Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Quest for Cheap Lumber

Being someone who is frugal - OK, Let's be honest, I'm cheap -  I'm always on the lookout for a great bargain.

One thing that always bugged me over the years was that the price of wood just seemed to get more and more expensive. For a lot of years I used pine almost exclusively for all of my projects since that was the cheapest wood that I could buy.

Now, I don't really have anything against pine. I find it to be a very nice wood to work with, can be very forgiving of any small mistakes that I may make and looks very attractive when it's finished in a nice coat of varnish.

But there are a lot of nice types of wood out there, especially hardwoods that have really nice grain patterns like Maple or Oak that I wish I could use without taking out a second mortgage.

Out in the rural areas where I live, there are a lot of road side stands that sell firewood for people that are going camping or want a little fire to roast marshmallows in the backyard. I should also mention that there are a good number of Mennonite furniture makers in my area, which leads to today's tale.

On the way home from work one day, I thought it would be a good evening to have a nice fire in the backyard and unwind from a busy day. With that in mind, I stopped at a road side stand that was selling a very large bag of wood for $3. Getting out of the car and looking at the bags of wood for sale, I noticed one thing...

Bags of Ash and Red Cedar planks

For firewood, this was awfully nice stuff.

The bags contained an assortment of dressed Ash and Red Cedar planks of roughly 1 to 2 feet long and about 8 inches wide, all of it in very good shape. Obviously, these were the scraps of someone who was making furniture for a living.

A quick mental calculation also told me that this stuff was worth a way lot more than 3 dollars.

So, abandoning my ideas of a fire, I paid my 3 dollars, grabbed a bag and made a beeline home to take inventory.

A good assortment of lumber

As I suspected, I got a very good haul of ash planks along with some red cedar and what looks like oak blocks. While I won't make any coffee tables out of it, this stuff would be very good for making small items like jewelry boxes, while the oak blocks would be good to practice wood turning on my new lathe.

Very nice wood grain 

Oak wood blank for the lathe

So the lesson I've learned is to keep your eyes open. One person's firewood can be a woodworker's treasure trove.

You'll be surprised at what you'll find sometimes

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