500 board feet of lumber

… well, approximately, more or less.

Yesterday in the afternoon, we went to a local Amish sawmill. We intend to build our own tables, entertainment center, computer desk, and maybe our bedroom set. So we went to the mill to see what they had and what it cost and how long it’d be until we could work it.

Our first thought was poplar - it’s easy to work and it’s a neutral enough color that it takes stains beautifully. I’ve never done any real furniture making, so I didn’t want to risk ruining good hardwood, and poplar is softer, tho not as soft as pine. Well, they didn’t have furniture grade poplar - they just had rough planks for barns.

We asked about cherry, but we were second in line, and the first guy bought all the cherry they had in the pile. Oh well. So Melvin took us to one of the other sheds and showed us a stack of black walnut. It had been sitting for a year, so it was pretty much ready to use. (We’ll get a moisture meter just to be sure.) It was more expensive than cherry, but our piano is walnut, and it’s beautiful, so I figured we’d be spending about $900 on walnut.

Today, we went back with our trailer to get 500 board feet of walnut. Melvin was busy, but he sent Aaron to help us out. Melvin also had said the if we take run of the mill rather than picking and choosing our boards, he’d give us a deal. So we agreed. After grabbing a few walnut boards and loading them on the trailer, my husband and Aaron noticed that the balance of the stack was cherry - and beautiful cherry at that! So they loaded all of that on the trailer - about 300 board feet by Aaron’s reckoning. They finished loading for a total of 200 board feet of walnut, and we went to pay.

Final tab - $1/ft for cherry and $1.50/ft for walnut. Total, including tax - $630! Woohoo!

We brought it home and stacked it in the garage where my van goes. We need to get a bunch of sticks and clear out the end of the garage so we can stack our wood properly so it gets air. That’ll probably happen over the course of the week. Then, after my sweetie is all recovered from his surgery, provided the wood is properly dry (it’s been sitting for a year, so I expect it’s good) we’ll start making our furniture. He wants to make a tall, narrow chest of drawers for our bedroom to sit between the closets. I want a coffee table for the family room. We shall see what is done first.

After all these years of watching Norm on the New Yankee Workshop, I’ll finally make some chips! We’ve got a planer, a jointer, a band saw, a table saw, a floor drill press, plus a table top drill press that’s going to become our mortiser, and tomorrow, we’re going to get a radial arm saw that used to be my dad’s - my sister offered it to us since it’s in their way. We’ve also got a dove tail jig, a bunch of clamps, an air compressor to run our brad nailer and pneumatic tools, and tons of other stuff. According to my husband, we’ll have enough as soon as Norm comes to borrow tools from us. :smiley:

So, who thinks a woman covered in sawdust is hot?? :wink:

Coming form a woman who does carpenry as part of her job, a lot.
It sounds like fun. You will have to post pics when you get going.

Oh yeah, I’ll be posting pics - I’m a big showoff that way, having shared our remodeling last year and my initial attempts at pottery in the spring. I’m not a total attention whore, but I gotta share! That’s what the forum says - share!!

Just sawdust?

That sounds great, FCM – where is this Amish sawmill? We’re just settling in here and Papa T. has a nice big shed for all his tools and wants to at least make some bookcases, and that sounds like a great place to get beautiful wood (and such a price!).

And I definitely want to see pics, too!

Not only is that a good price for lumber, you’ve got all the tools to make the job easy. I’ve watched shows like New Yankee Workshop and it always struck me that it looks easy because the guy has probably got something like $50,000 worth of tools. I’ve built some bookcases with my father and most of the time we were trying to do it with a 20-year-old circular saw, a couple sawhorses, and a drill. Oh, and an orbital sander. Just cutting the wood takes forever when you’re trying to do it nearly freehand with a small circular saw, and this was with pine. The only time furniture building was easy was when I was doing my Eagle project and got a neighbor to donate some time and the use of his table saw to make all the cuts right.

And you’re talking to a guy whose computer is currently resting on a table made of part of a broken prefab computer hutch and pine stud 1x2 cut by hand with a crosscut saw and put together with a cordless drill bought last year at a Labor Day sale. I just drilled the pine legs in by countersinking screws right through the tabletop–and it’s hard to countersink into laminated particle board–and put a crosspiece between each side. I like working with my hands and all (I liked shop class for the same reason I like doing research), but I’m more likely just to buy furniture. Between the cost of the lumber and the time and tools it takes to build even a bookcase, I’d rather just go to Target and pick up something prefab. Or go to Goodwill (where I’m going to be heading shortly) and buy something hopefully made out of real wood.

For years, we made do with crappy, hand-me-down tools and flea market finds, but when we bought this house, we made a trip to the Grizzly showroom in Pennsylvania, and that’s where we got most of the tools. We haven’t even gotten the jointer put together yet, but we’ve used most of the others for the remodeling project.

To be honest, I thought my husband was a big whiner when he said he needed a better table saw. We had a perfectly servicable Craftsman. So I thought. Then I used it, and I realized he was right - it was a crappy tool. So we sold it. I’ve used most of the new tools we’ve got - what a difference!! And for all those years he wanted a bandsaw and I mocked him - I’m so ashamed. It’s soooooo nice.

Of course, when you factor the cost of the tools into the cost of the future furniture, well, them’s gonna be some pricy end tables. But that’s not the point, is it?

We’re in St Mary’s county, and the mill is along Rt 236 between Budd’s Creek and Mechanicsville. It’s one of several in this county. Where are you living?? Email me and I can give you more details.

Like I didn’t expect this… :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

Mind the type of material from which you cut your stickers to separate the boards. Make sure there of a type of wood that won’t chemically interact with the boards you’re storing or else you’ll end with nice stains perpendicular to the grain of your material.

Thanks, GrizzRich - I wouldn’t have thought of that.