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Thread: Retail Wood Prices: Where are they at?

  1. #1

    Retail Wood Prices: Where are they at?

    I am too far removed from retail wood prices to know what the price is, but here in Maine I know the price of logs has fallen out of the sky. If there is a bottom to log and pulpwood prices, we have not reached it yet. Every week the price keeps going down another $5-10$ per cord and its down about $30 bucks a cord already, which is about of its price (25% reduction).

    I sent a load out awhile ago and the papermill scaled way back on it. Normally a 11 cord load (5000 bf) of softwood goes for $770 bucks or so, but this time that same load went for $440 bucks a load. Adding insult to fiscal injury, they called it "mixed softwood" when it was pure hackmatack. The truck driver told him it was pure hackmatack since that commands a higher price, but the papermills are in such a slump that they don't care if they get wood or not. All in all, I was lucky to get rid of the load even if it was at a cut-rate price.

    Now that I have all kinds of time to log, I'm staying right out of the woods. Its not worth working hard and giving away my wood as I am doing fine financially at this point. Others near me are not so lucky. The loggers are paying high prices to the landowners because they signed contracts on the woodlots when the prices were high and that was the agreed upon price. Now though they are getting low prices for the wood they are cutting, meaning they are logging for nothing really.

    Normally log trucks make a steady parade past my house on the way to the mills, but now they are parked and maybe 5-6 pass the house each day. The log yards and papermills just are not buying. This is bad here because typically when lay-offs happen, the people here go into the woods "to make a little money." That means more people cutting wood with very few papermills and log yards buying wood, so the price drops even more.

    If it sounds bad, it is...but the real question I have is if the retail cost of lumber is following this tumbling wood market? There is some delay between wood on BORG shelves and current prices of course, but in the very near future hardwood lumber and building materials should be VERY low. Is anyone seeing this yet?
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    travis dont know the retail cost inmy area right of the top of me head but i drive by two mills on the way home and they are still gettin some maple and walnut but arent cutiin anything,just sortin out the veneer and cuttin the other up in firewood.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Oliver Springs, TN
    retail here has stayed about the same price. I was at Lowes this morning looking through the tools and wondered over to the ply section. 4x8 birch was 51.00 per sheet and oak was 53.00. I can get 4/4 sel/btr rough cherry and maple for 4.25 and 4.00 bd/ft.
    Last edited by John Daugherty; 02-02-2009 at 10:31 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan

    local pricing..

    here is a fair idea of what he prices are over here..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    From my personal pricing for the project or two around the house, retail prices have held fairly firm. I would think they'll drop pretty soon. I get my woodworking lumber rough sawn from two brothers who mill felled urban logs, saw it, and dry it in their solar kiln. Their prices have held as well, but their pricing has always been based more on what it costs them to provide the wood instead of what the market will bear. They've always been really affordable, and i like to give my money to them instead of a retail lumber yard.
    Bids on various jobs at work are coming in more favorable, but i think that's because the labor market is so thin right now. Companies are taking work at break even rates just to try to keep the doors open. Things here are very precarious. If things don't start to grind into motion soon, my bet is that there will be a tremendous wave of job cuts across any industry involving building. Everyone right now is struggling just to stay afloat.
    As an aside, i'm reading "The Worst Hard Time" right now (oddly, a Christmas gift from my 5 and 6 year olds). It's about the Dustbowl during the depression. I'm not one to draw comparisons between now and then because i don't have a full understanding of either situation, but i have to say that a lot of the news lines i read and here from day to day remind me of nearly identical headlines during the early 1930's. It's really a good book if you like history.
    I do expect that, if there's a rush return to typical spending levels, there will be a jump in inflation. There would be an instant demand on materials that wouldn't be fully available. Incomes will still be down, but the price of materials may go up quickly.
    Just my little theory.
    Paul Hubbman

  6. #6
    Interesting Paul.

    With all my free time now, I watch more TV then I care too, and thus saw the History Channel had the author of that book doing some studies on the effects of"Black Blizzards" or dust storms in the 30's. Kind of a coincidence you mention the book the same day the author is featured on the History Channel.

    As for your lumber suppliers, they would have my respect too and I hope you continue to buy from them. I could type a book on this so I will keep it short: we as a society just need to start basing prices on actual costs of production with reasonable profits, rather then following the mantra "well others are getting x amount for their product, so my prices do too."

    As for prices here, many attributed the high cost of hardwood to all the firewood that was being put up this year to combat the cost of oil. Its what we use here in the Northeast to heat with. Anyway what it really was, was the paper companies. For a period of time last year, the American Dollar was low and so it was actually cheaper to buy paper from American then anywhere else. Maine paper mills could not produce enough paper, and they were making money good money.

    Because of that they were consuming hardwood at record levels. At the same time firewood dealers were buying up the wood. The paper companies have more influence however and the price went from something like $70 a cord to $160 a cord and was paying more then firewood prices. I've never seen that before. Last fall there was a severe shortage of firewood because of this, and hardwood...normally destined for hardwood lumber was being churned into paper and firewood driving up the hardwood lumber side of the equation. Finally the world economy fell along with the US and so now that price advantage american paper companies had last summer is gone, and the prices are tumbling.

    It will be interesting to see if retail hardwood lumber prices fall along with everything else.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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