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Thread: lumber yard vs Home depot or Lowes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs

    lumber yard vs Home depot or Lowes

    When it comes to basic construction, nothing too exotic as far as wood is concerned, Im having real problems with a couple of local lumber yards, and I keep ending up in HD buying the wood I need. Perhaps a slight bit inferior, I dont see it much with pressure treated or plywoods, but its much better for someone like me to hand pick each piece of lumber I want, whether it be 30 boards, or one board.
    Im not sure if the workers at the lumber yard are stupid, careless, or sneaky under the direction of their bosses, but I dont find having to go back and forth with them much fun.

    If Im paying 4.89 a foot for clear red cedar 1x6, I expect to get 64 feet when I buy 4 16 footers.
    So when I pay the cashier, and you hand in your slip, to the lumber yard workers, I expect to receive what I paid for.
    When the worker returns, he has the 4 16 footers, but 3 of them, have cracks down one of both ends 8-10 inches in. So I tell them fine, cut off the foot on each side, and Ill pay that much less, since the board only has 14 feet of uncracked wood.(I know cedar and redwood split alot, but Im not purchasing it split already)
    Whats worse, is that when they have to bring it back to the pile, and repick for you, their attitude becomes somewhat less appreciated, and to top it all off, they expect a couple of bucks for their efforts even though they make grunts, roll their eyes at you, and whatever else shows you they dont appreciate having to go back and pick a decent board for me.
    If I go to HD, I can pick through the lumber, pressure treated, oak, maple, poplar, plywoods, and so on, and pick only perfectly straight, and unsplit pieces. Noone tells me not too, and I think they expect you too.
    And HD is at least 20% less expensive then the local yards, which wouldnt bother me much as long as I was getting what I was I paying for.
    Am I too picky when paying 21.60 for a 1x8 16 footer of pressure treated lumber, and the piece has splits 8 inches in on both sides, and the picker seems to ignore it.
    I can pay 4.99 for a 1x6 8 footer at hd, and never have a bad board.

    Is this anyone elses experience, or do I just have cruddy lumber yards out here?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    one more thing.
    I understand if I was buying the wood in giant lots, enough that they would deliver it to my door, Id expect to pay 10-15% less, so some cracked or unstraight boards wouldnt eat away at my costs as much since IM already getting a discount.
    Im thinking maybe the lumber yards are discouraging a small lot purchaser like me, meaning theyd prefer to deal with contractors and huge purchases only.
    (but I see they sell all these exotic woods and mouldings, and I see plenty of contracting trucks there with purchasers, buying only 6 or 8 feet)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan

    large purchase dont stop it!!!!

    allen i can give one fine example of not makin a differnce,,when building my new shop i needed a bunk of 2x6x10 studs, i was already doing business with them previously and my whole family had, dad and brother. the one guy that works there was distant relative..well i was gettin ready to start on the walls and the studs were full of wane and cracked & crooked way more than i wanted.. went and sent dad who had over 3o yrs workin in yard to go look at a differnt yards lumber and if he liked what he saw to get 100 of them.. well he came back with that hundred and i loaded the bunk back up sorted out what i could use and even used some of the bad ones for short areas and had dad take them back for me saving the bad yard the trip.. they looked at my list of returns and asked why so many coming back??? dad said come on out and take a look,, the guy that was distant relative looked at the first group on top and then looked at the owner and said what you wanna do? the owner looked at dad and said sorry and then looked the yard guys and said give this man what he wants!!! since then i send dad to get the lumber when i can.. todays quality is far from what it was yrs agao becasue of the youngness of the growth and cuttin smaller trees ad hurring the process of everythng.. make this end now, allen go to your yard if they dont treat you right tell them and if you get what your after elsewhere do that but quantinty doesnt make the differnce the yards get bad stuff in there orders and they try to unlaod on who ever will take it.. its sometimes not there fault its just what is avaible and the cost factor....
    Last edited by larry merlau; 04-15-2008 at 06:51 PM. Reason: easir readin
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    I like my local yards just fine. However, other than one guy at one yard who knows me pretty well; I pick all my own lumber. If the yard uses a format that doesn't allow that, I don't shop there. I have this luxury as I don't usually buy over 50 - 60 bf at any one time and often less.

    If I commonly ordered 100 bf a week, I would certainly pick my supplier carefully. If I was limited due to location and got poor service, I would try to address that with someone who had a vested interest in getting my business (manager, owner, whatever). I hope you find a good solution.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    the borgs (lowes-n-h.d) are in business to deal with the end consumer....or harry homeowner if you will...they have the lumber sorters and tire kickers figured into their business model.
    one of my good friends owns a chain of yards and they discourage the homeowner/price shopper/lumber sorter from shopping there by full list pricing all goods that non-contractor/non-established customers buy.... this way their sales staff has the ability to placate those folks and still keep profit margins acceptable.
    i`ve been on both sides of the equation for a few decades and as much as i dispise the borgs they do have a place in society.
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  6. #6
    I can't speak for a lumber yard. I buy cedar in quantities - approx 1200 bdft at a time. I pay a little bit more than you but the ocean cruise its been on explains that. I reckon on getting about 85-90% useful yield from that quantity. The rest will be sap or underthickness or just plain beat up. Losing a foot from the end of a board is unexceptional.

    I would guess that your lumber yard is charging you at a basic trade price and that their expectation of total quality is different to yours. Maybe have a word with the owner/supervisor and tell them what kind of quality you want to buy and see what their price is for that quality level. I am not trying to apologise for them but there is a difference between the expectation level of trade and retail customers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Central (upstate) NY
    I'm lucky enough to have an hour commute and the lumber yard halfway home is really good about letting me go find my perfect stud. Mind you, I buy what they call the premium grade dimensional lumber - this is about 25 - 50% higher price than the economy natural edge stuff.

    This way I know that I will still have a board if I joint and plane the whole thing and also it is usually quite good enough to be used as is for shop / basement jigs and/or storage projects.

    The yard in the same town where I live is also good about giving me straight stock, but is usually closed by the time I get home.

    I'm glad they accepted the return for you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Our local lumber yards allow me to be picky for what little I buy. But, as Tod points, out, I'm probably paying for the extra service. I'll never buy a hunk of wood from HD again. Last time, I got oak for a set of shelves for the wife. The wood had quarter size imprints, probably from an automated handling machine. The imprints were so deep they would not readily sand out. I complained and only got a "so sorry". No more Home Depot for anything. Haven't even thought about buying wood from Lowes. Maybe the bite at HD made me twice shy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    Makes me appreciate my relationship with the local building supply I have. Most of the sales people know me by name. I have 2 or 3 that I know really well. Most times I just go down in the basement, the yard or the warehouse and pick out what I need, load the truck and then go to the counter and tell them what I got. If one of them goes with me they help me pick out good quality. Of course if I am making something that doesn't matter I will take rough boards. I feel it's only fair.

    Last week I need a good Cedar 2x4 for a paddle. They keep those in the basement. I just asked where they were and then head down the stairs and start pulling boards out of the rack till I find one suitable. I realize that not just anyone can do that. This makes me appreciate that fact that I have such favor there!
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    I dont know if Im allowed to name a lumber yard that stocks every wood species known to mankind.
    They are more expensive than anyone Ive ever dealt with.
    Having said that, once you pay inside, the workers, the wood pickers are obvioiusly craftsmen themselves, everyone of them.
    I use this yard for white oak. The guy will use his forklift, and go through as much as I want to find the right boards, and he doesnt mind.
    He understands the price and the need for quality merchandise, and Ive dealt with at least 3 different pickers.
    For quality, or a one of a kind piece,(in my life, that means maybe an outdoor table, or a set of chairs for someone that wants teak,20 bucks a linear foot, and I need 25 feet for each chair) but wont pay, so white oak hits the mark), I always use this yard.
    But when Im making 8 chairs, and cost is the main factor for me, since I wont look for shortcuts when Im making them, 20-25% difference in cheap pressure treated lumber runs a huge difference.
    I havent found a happy medium yet.

    IM a small business owner myself, and I know the importance of developing a rapport with a local business cause favors or special needs are addressed so much easier when you know someone that cares.
    Last edited by allen levine; 04-15-2008 at 10:06 PM.

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