Saturday, October 20, 2007

Buying the Lumber

Let's recap where we are. We've talked about the woodworking process. I've designed the corner cabinet & I've shown it to you. We've talked about cut lists and the different kinds of figure available for white oak. It's time to go shopping for wood!

After designing the cabinet in SketchUp , I used the cut list Ruby Script to generate the cut list for the project. I then imported the resulting file into CutList Plus. Here's a screen shot from CutList Plus to show you what it looks like.

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To summarize, according to CutList Plus and the information I had in it initially, I needed to buy nine (9) white oak boards at 4/4 x 6.5" x 96", one (1) at 5/4 x 6.6" x 96", and three (3) sheets of white oak veneer core plywood at 4' x 8'. This actually would have left me with a fair amount of extra material, but I planned on buying 10 full 4/4 boards and 2 5/4 boards, just to be safe.

With this done, I knew exactly how much wood I would buy if I were to go to the hardwood dealer myself & pick through the bins. Now I started looking at prices.

In my area, 4/4 plain sawn oak goes for $4.20 a board foot, while rift & quarter sawn go for $5.75 a board foot. Looking around in other areas that weren't too far from me, I found prices were about the same. At this point, I decided to go with plain sawn white oak for the cabinet instead of quarter sawn, since the price difference was significant. But I still wanted to do better than $4.20 a board foot.

There's a user on WoodNet named Barry who lives in the southern part of the same county I live in. I explained to him what I was trying to do and asked him where he gets his wood. He told me about a place in upstate New York called Lakeshore Hardwoods, which is cheaper than the wood sources local to me and ships at a reasonable rate. He also said that this fellow there named Brian is very conscientious & does a good job of grain matching. Thanks for the tip, Barry! A phone call to Lakeshore Hardwoods got me in contact with Brian. Brian told me that the price for plain sawn white oak was $3.50 a board foot, a $0.70 difference from my local supplier. Brian asked me to email him my cut list and he would get back to me with a quote.

I took the full cut list and removed all of the oak plywood parts from it. I emailed the list to Brian and the next day he got back to me with a quote that I found quite reasonable. The rough lumber came to $125 and he would ship the order to me for $38. For an additional $49, he would also plan my stock smooth & to thickness.

It turns out that with the shipping, the difference in price from the local place was pretty much a wash. I do know that the price for milling the lumber locally would be higher than Lakeshore's price. So I decided to go with Lakeshore and have them mill the lumber, too.

About a week later, I received two packages from Brian with my wood in them. Looking through them, I was impressed with the quality of the wood and the job of grain & color matching Brian had done. I'll be using them in the future.

Well, at this point, I needed to figure out which parts to cut from which board. So I measured each board I received & wrote down the dimensions. I then entered those dimensions into CutList Plus and indicated that I actually had the boards in inventory. But when CutList did the layout, it kept telling me I didn't have enough stock for all of the parts.

After scratching my head for a while, I decided to take a look at the email I had sent to Brian with the cut list. I then realized that I accidentally removed two of the solid oak parts from the list when I removed all of the oak ply parts! Doh!!

At this point, I needed to go to M.L. Condon's to buy the oak ply I needed, so I decided to pick up a couple of white oak boards to make up the short fall. That's when I found out that Condon's had raised their prices since the last time I was there. After some searching, I was able to find three different boards that were straight, or at least had a long enough straight section in it to get the parts I was missing. Here's what all of the lumber looked like after I got it home.

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Next I went and looked at their plain sliced white oak ply. This looked very good, and as it turns out, was actually a full 3/4" thick, and 48 5/8" wide x 96 11/16" long! You don't find plywood like this at the Home Depot! The outermost veneers are fairly thin, though, so I'm going to go easy on the sanding when the time comes.

Next time, we'll talk about laying out all of the parts on the stock

1 comment:

Neil....a Furnitologist said...


Liked seeing the screen shot of cut-list pro. Not a user but curious.

Can't waite until you start cutting.