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One Board At a Time Is Pretty Unusual, But It’s What We Do

by Mark Stephens | December 15th, 2011
woodworkers source hardwood lumber for woodworking wood projects

We stock a lot of lumber and then sell it one piece at a time to individuals.

One of the strangest things we do at Woodworkers Source is sell wood to individuals.

Wait, what’s so strange about that?

This: the hardwood lumber industry’s standard practices,  rules, and terminology were set up to govern a trade in which most often the smallest order fills a flatbed truck. It never made (much) consideration for hobbyists or small businesses; people who want as little as 100 board feet or less. Random widths, fractional thicknesses, rough sawn, grade names like “Select & Better” just don’t mean anything to people outside the industry.

It also operates in volumes considered improbable by hobbyist woodworkers, as the consumption of lumber is counted not in board feet but in train car loads.  “I’ll take two, please!” has a very different meaning when you’re talking to a massive lumber producer.

The main customers for hardwood lumber are manufacturers who could process 10,000 board feet in a single day for the widget they’re hawking. Which is most likely cabinetry, doors, molding, or flooring.

The point is it’s an industry largely uninterested in serving a customer who needs just a few feet for something like a jewelry box.  But we do it, and very few others do as well. We’ll bring in truck loads of lumber and let customers flip boards in the piles until their heart is content with the right piece.

This business model is so unusual that National Hardwood Magazine talked with me for awhile about what we do and how we do it. The magazine is aimed at those massive lumber producers and wholesalers, so we bring a very different play to the field that those folks might find interesting. Hopefully you do too.

The story came out in their December 2011 issue and also was just released on their website, which you can see at this link along with some photographs of our operation:

Woodworkers Source: Sourcing Multiple Needs One Customer At A Time