How To Buy Lumber For Woodworking


Lumber is a generic term for wood that has been cut into boards of specific sizes and thicknesses. It is usually sawn from softwoods such as pine, fir, spruce and hardwoods such as oak, maple and cherry. Lumber is used primarily in woodworking to make furniture, cabinets, shelves and other objects. It is also used for structural purposes such as beams and structural supports.

When purchasing lumber for a woodworking project it is important to know what type of lumber you need. Different types of lumber will have different characteristics that will affect the project you are working on. Softwood lumber tends to be lighter weight and easier to shape but it won’t stand up to heavy stresses while hardwood lumber will be heavier but more durable. You should also consider the grain pattern of the particular piece you are looking at; straight-grained pickups tend to be less expensive than ones with figured or curly grain patterns.

Another factor when shopping for lumber is the moisture content; green or fresh-cut lumber needs time and drying before it can be worked into a finished product. Denser types of hardwoods require special considerations for drying, such as staking in order to avoid cracking due to shrinkage during drying. Understanding how different processes affect your woodworking project can help you decide which type of lumber works best for your project’s goals.

The last thing to consider when selecting lumber for woodworking projects is cost; different types of woods come with different price points so make sure you understand the total cost before making any decisions on which kind of material would best suit your needs. Look for pieces that are graded higher quality than what you may originally expect in order to save money in the long run; even if they don’t seem absolutely perfect they can often still be suitable depending on your particular project or use case needed!

Types of Wood

When purchasing lumber for woodworking, it is important to be aware of the characteristics and differences between the various types of wood used. For example, softwoods like pine or cedar are lightweight and easy to work with, but they don’t have a lot of strength or durability. Hardwood varieties such as oak, walnut, and mahogany are more dense and heavier than softwoods and offer a lot more strength and durability. When exposed to moisture and temperature changes, hardwoods tend to not shrink or warp as much as softwoods do.

Certain woods can also offer grain variations that add character to woodworking projects. For instance, walnut has distinct brown movement when stained compared to cherry’s straight graining which provides more uniformity in the color when finished. Oak is recognized for its prominent open grain pattern which can give any furniture piece a rustic charm. Mahogany comes with intense reddish tones with tight grain markings that look stunning when finished.

The type of wood chosen for any one project will depend on the desired outcome, along with its overall quality and cost-effectiveness. To make sure you choose the right option it’s best to consider all your available choices before making a decision.

How to Shop for Lumber

Shopping for lumber is an important step in any woodworking project. There are many places to buy lumber, from lumber yards, to building supply stores and even home improvement stores. It is important to know what type of lumber is best for each project before looking for the lumber. Different types of wood can be used for different areas and certain species are better suited for certain projects than others. When shopping for lumber, there are a few things you should consider:

What To Gift A Woodworker

1. What type of project or application is the wood being purchased for? Is it a frame, furniture piece or cabinetry?

2. Will the wood be exposed to high humidity? Certain pine woods tend to warp when exposed to too much moisture.
3. What tools will you be using during your woodworking project? Different tools require different kinds of wood and will have a big impact on what kind of wood should be purchased and how thick it needs to be.
4. Are there any special requirements such as fire resistance or rot resistance that need to be considered when looking at the different varieties? This could determine which type of wood is best suited for the project at hand.
5. Do some research into the different types of woods available and their characteristics – which ones are strong, lightweight and look appealing when finished? Figure out which one suits your needs best before making a purchase decision.
6. Talk to knowledgeable staff at suppliers and get their opinion on grades of plywood that would work well with your specific application or job requirements – they are often very helpful in this area!
7. Look closely at any boards you’re buying, ensuring there’s no visible damage such as cracks, knots or signs that it might not hold up well in use or after finishing (look particularly closely if purchasing clear grades).
8 Lastly, if working with hardwoods, check the density/hardness rating ” this can affect not only weight but also performance properties such as stiffness and shock resistance – necessary elements in varies applications including furniture framing or flooring projects alike!

Choosing the Right Lumber

When buying lumber for woodworking, it’s important to understand the difference between quality and grade. Quality is determined by looking at the saw marks which are left in the lumber when it has been cut. If the saw marks are very regular with no flat or low spots, then this indicates that a good quality of lumber was used. Similarly, if the swan-like curves you see on each board are relatively shallow, this also suggests that you have high-quality lumber. Grade of lumber is determined by assessing its strength, stiffness and other physical properties as well as how straight it is and if things like knots or imperfections cause any defects that could affect its structural integrity. Generally speaking, higher grades of lumber will contain fewer blemishes whereas lower grades of lumber may have more defects which could otherwise reduce their strength and stability. It’s always important to remain mindful of these factors when selecting the right lumber for your woodworking project

Care and Maintenance

Storing and protecting your lumber is an important step when it comes to woodworking. The best way to keep your wood in good condition is to keep it off the ground and away from direct sunlight and moisture. A simple, cost effective way of storing lumber is by using metal or plastic shelving units that have no-sag boards which will hold the weight of the lumber without buckling under pressure. If you choose to stack multiple boards at a time, make sure that each row is supported by its own shelf or bottom board so as not to buckle or bend any of the boards. You should also allow for proper air movement around and beneath the lumber, which can be done with two-by-fours or other pieces of wood placed underneath each row of lumber. Additionally, if you’ll be mostly leaving your wood unprotected, it may be beneficial to use wood protectant such as wax or linseed oil before storing, as this will help stave off pests and weatherization damage. Furthermore, taking a few moments to review your collection every month can help identify issues such as warping easily and early on so they can be addressed quickly and without too much additional cost.

Why Use Butterfly Ties In Woodworking

Common Mistakes

One of the most common mistakes made by beginner woodworkers when buying lumber is not accounting for its moisture content. Before purchasing any lumber, it should be checked with a moisture meter to ensure that it is dry enough for use in the project. Another mistake beginners often make is purchasing green lumber or damp lumber since it is less expensive. This will lead to warping and cracking as the wood dries out over time.

Another mistake is neglecting to factor in the cost of wastage when buying boards. Beginner woodworkers often underestimate how much excess will need to be cut away from an edge-glued board once it has been glued into place. Unless proper measurements are taken, additional lumber will likely be needed depending on the size and shape of the project being constructed.

It’s also important for beginners to consider their tools when purchasing lumber. Some projects require special pieces like mouldings or carved parts which require specialized bits in power tools such as a router, so one must make sure they have all the necessary tools before buying their boards. Additionally, different species of wood may require different blades on their saws and sanding discs on their sanders ” these too should be factored into purchase decisions when selecting timber.


When it comes to buying lumber for woodworking, resources available online can be invaluable. Many suppliers provide detailed information regarding the type and grade of lumber that would benefit a specific working project. Additionally, some websites have a searchable index of different kinds of lumber available on the market and provide comparisons across supplier price points and quality standards so makers can find the perfect lumber for their needs. Moreover, online tutorials are widely available with many easy-to-follow instructions. Many professional woodworkers also use reviews from fellow craftsmen to help them determine what lumber is best suited to their project before making an investment in materials. Ultimately, making sure you’ve bought the right kind of lumber for your needs is essential; by using all the necessary resources, you can make sure you end up with exactly what you need for your woodworking project.

Send this to a friend