Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rough sawn vs surfaced wood

Wood that you buy from Home Depot, Lowes, Parr or any other retail outlet that services the general public as well as most home building and construction trades has one thing in common: it is surfaced, reasonably square, and ready to use. It even has a standard name; dimensional lumber. A 2x4 from one store is likely to play well with a 2x4 from any other store. If you are building a house or a garden shed that is perfect.

When you look at wood available from specialty stores such as Woodcrafter, Rockler, Crosscut Hardwoods, Woodcrafters (or any other specialty store for woodworkers) you start to see some differences. Sure, there are flat smooth boards available for sale but there is also rough cut wood too. Some of the rough cut stock looks almost woolly it is so rough. The other thing you'll notice is a difference in price. Surfaced planks may be cheaper at bigbox stores or lumberyards, but the same species of rough sawn wood from specialty stores will be less expensive. Maybe not a lot less expensive, but some. Also, if you are looking for figured wood the only place you will generally find it will be a specialty store.

But, if you have the tools to deal with rough sawn wood you can cut out the middleman and buy directly from a sawyer or lumbermill. You'll get better prices, and you'll have a better chance of buying boards that were all cut from the same tree. Also, you'll be able to get boards of locally harvested wood that may be completely unavailable to you otherwise. My favorite local sawyer Tyler of Urban Hardwood Recovery has his own kiln and operates his business on a part time basis. Locating a local sawyer isn't hard. Search for terms like Hardwood, mill, lumber, kiln-dried and the species you are looking for. You can also contact a local Arborist who may know of a small sawmill operation, or even the makers of small sawmills like Wood-Mizer who may know of mills operating in your area.

No comments: