Buying Help and FAQs

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  • Industry lumber standards
    • Board footage

      The inch-pound unit of volume measurement for hardwood lumber. A board foot is the volume of a board 1-inch thick, 12-inches wide, 12-inches long, and/or its equivalent - 144 cubic inches of wood.  Other sizes that equal one board foot: 1-inch thick, 4-inches wide, 36-inches long; 2-inches thick, 6-inches wide, 12-inches long
      Board foot calculator

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    • Random widths and lengths

      One reason for using board footage as the unit of measurement is because hardwood lumber has no standard widths or lengths – also known as random widths and lengths (RWRL for short).  Hardwoods tend to be used for furniture and cabinetry where standard sizes do not exist.  Rather, these products are highly customized, and every project is different and uses different sizes.  Therefore, it’s to the craftsman’s advantage to be able to purchase varied widths and lengths to gain the highest yield from a stock of lumber. 

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    • NHLA

      The National Hardwood Lumber Association sets the rules and regulations for selling, grading, and measuring hardwood lumber.  For the most part, their rules apply to industrial quantities of lumber but they do specify some rules for retail sales.  Such as…. (see email)
      For more information on industry standards, or to get a rule book, visit,

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  • Woodworkers Source lumber standards
    • Surfaced lumber, rough lumber

      Most of the lumber we stock is surfaced on two sides (S2S for short) for smoothness and uniformity of size within a given species.  Different species of surfaced lumber may not be identically thick after surfacing.  Benefits of purchasing lumber that’s surfaced include: ease of judging the boards for grain, figure, color; and planed lumber is ready to be jointed (or straight-edged) and then run through a table saw.
      We do not stock any rough sawn lumber.

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    • Rough edges and straight lining service

      Just like the surface of lumber, the edges come rough from the mill.  In general the edges are straight, but not smooth.  See the pictures below.  While some woodworkers have their own jointer or table saw jig for making the edges smooth, we offer a straight lining service of $0.25 per board foot for edging one side. 

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    • Getting the widths and lengths you want

      While hardwood lumber is sold as “random widths and lengths” we do offer a selection service for a fee of $0.50 per board foot.  You may specify lengths or widths with the understanding that we may send you material that is greater than your specification and  your specification may require that we send more footage than you’ve ordered.  Example: if you order 25 board feet of Red Oak and specify 8” widths, we will select material that is 8” and wider, as a result the boards may calculate to (again, for example) 27.2 board feet.  That order would be charged for the 27.2 footage. 

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    • Measuring lumber

      Widths are measured in inches to the nearest quarter inch; lengths are measured to the nearest full inch.  We measure to the inch on the length since we allow cutting of longer boards.

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    • Kiln dried wood and moisture content

      For lumber, we stock only material that has been kiln dried – most often.  Some turning stock is also kiln dried, but most is green (also known as wet); turning woods and products are clearly labeled on their respective product pages as to whether they are kiln dried or green.

      Wood moves as it equalizes with the moisture content of the air in which it is stored, and the process is slow. The movement comes from the wood’s cells expanding and/or contracting to adjust with its environment.  This could be the yard at the mill, our warehouse, or your shop.  The reason for kiln drying is to get the moisture content down (between 7% and 12%) to a level that will minimize the amount that it may have to adjust, and therefore move.  Always allow lumber to acclimate to your shop before putting it to use in a final product.    
      Equilibrium Moisture Content

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    • Milling and cutting to size

      We offer milling services for cutting boards to custom sizes and some other basic operations.  Please call or email to get a quote for your particular needs.

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  • Pricing and discounts

    We have a lumber price schedule that incorporates quantity discounts:

    • List Price
    • 100 board feet discount (25% off list)

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  • Packs and “shipping included”

    Craft Packs, Project Packs, and Pro Packs are lumber packages that we’ve put together and priced to include delivery anywhere in the 48 U.S.   With these packs, you know your final price up front without having to calculate any shipping costs.  The packs are made up of the same material that you can buy just by the board foot.  Purchase either way that you are comfortable.

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  • Toxicity concerns

    We strongly recommends wearing a dust mask, barrier cream, eye protection, and other aides when working with any wood product – this is not limited to just exotic woods.  Dust from domestic and exotic woods can cause allergic reactions in anyone.  For more about toxicity, read this page.

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  • Outdoor woods

    Some woods have properties that lend themselves to resist decay, rot, insect damage, and the weather better than others.  Go to our Outdoor Woods page to see these woods.

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  • Planning your project

    Try these online tools:

  • 4/4, 6/4, 8/4, 12/4

    These fractions are indicators for the thickness of lumber.  Prior to surfacing 4/4 lumber measures 1”, 6/4 measures 1-1/2”, 8/4 measures 2”, and 12/4 measures 3”.  While all of our lumber is surfaced on two sides, the actual measurement of these is:

4/4 = 13/16"
6/4 =  1-5/16"
8/4 = 1-13/16"
12/4 = 2-13/16"

From top to bottom, this photo shows 4/4, 6/4, 8/4, and 12/4 thickness lumber:

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Turning Woods

  • Wet (green) versus dry wood

    It’s not practical to dry wood (in a kiln) that is cut to size for turning, such as bowl blanks or turning squares.  The comparatively small sizes wouldn’t handle the heat and rapid drying without excessive waste.  This is one reason why most turning stock is only available as wet or air dried.  The other reason is that many turners enjoy the ease of turning green wood.  However, we do often stock some turning material that is cut from kiln dried lumber.  The benefit here is the relative stability of the pieces.  Either way, our turning woods are all clearly marked on the product pages as being wet, air dried, or kiln dried.

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  • Bowl blank assortments

    While we have hundreds of different sizes, and dozens of different wood species in our turning stock inventory, we offer assortment packs through the website that include the shipping costs within the 48 U.S.  Call or email to purchase individual blanks not listed on the website. 

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  • Discounts

    Turning stock gets a 20% discount for 5 or more pieces.  Mix or match woods, sizes, etc. to reach the discount.

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  • Full size paper back sheets

    Paper backed veneers are "Architectural Grade," flexible, stable, and ready to finish or stain. The paper backing does two things:

    1. Allows for simple application with contact adhesive onto nearly any flat and clean substrate (MDF, plywood, etc.) Illustrated instructions come with veneer orders
    2. Makes the real wood flexible yet stable for wrapping around curves

    These veneer sheets come in two sizes: 4’x8’ and 2’x8’.  The widths of the sheets are most often made up of several leaves (slices of wood) that are laminated on the edges to produce the full width in a book-matched orientation. 

    Paper backing allows the sheets to flex and adhere to shapes or curves without breaking.

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  • Small packs, unbacked veneers

    Some applications require veneer without a backing.  Veneers without a backing are brittle and fragile, so the pieces tend to be far smaller than the full size sheets.  We carry packs of unbacked (or raw) veneer that total 7 square feet with 4 pieces measuring 7” x 32”

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  • Discounts

    Veneer gets a 20% discount for 5 or more sheets.  Mix or match wood types to reach the discount.

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