|I got a question a while ago from a
reader who was considering buying lumber from an ad he read in the newspaper.
It was only a dollar a board foot for oak and walnut, but he was still
wondering if it was a good deal.
A barn can be like an old gold mine. You either dig up gold or dirt. We've had
mixed results with the wood we've seen advertised. Some beautiful wood
purchased this way has been used for Woodsmith magazine projects.
But there's a lot of "firewood" that's advertised, too.
Either way, be prepared to spend more time and energy than if you were to go to
a lumberyard or woodworking store. Before making any trip, I would try to get
as much information as possible over the phone.
Here are two questions I would start with:
1) How has the wood been milled and dried?
Actually you're not
concerned with the specific tool used to mill the wood, or the specific method
used to dry it. Asking this question helps you get a feel for how much care the
sawyer took in milling and drying the wood.
2) Can I pick and choose the boards I
How the wood was dried is especially important. If dried properly, there should
not be a lot of rot, sticker marks, split ends, or severe bowing and cupping.
Also, if the wood has been air dried, you may need to store the wood in your
house or garage until the drying process is complete. Note: If you do decide to
look at the wood, take a moisture meter with you, if possible.
in someone else's shed probably hasn't been sorted or graded professionally.
There may be furniture quality wood right next to boards you couldn't build a
pallet with. So you need to make sure you're comparing "apples to
apples" when comparing this lumber to the lumber available at a retail
store. The wood may not be as much of a bargain as you think.
Go to Tip
If you're able to pick and choose, however, you can be your own
"grader." Then, if you get satisfactory answers to these questions,
go and see the wood for yourself. But remember, "All that