Mail Ordered Wood

My Bell Forest kit for the Adirondack Chair Build just arrived and I thought I would share the experience with you. I normally don’t order kits for the Guild projects but this is the first time they are offering a rough version. So I figured “what the heck!” I know as soon as I build this chair, my mom is going to want one too, so it will be nice to have some extra stock hanging around.

The rough lumber package costs $300 before our Guild discount. You can check the kits out here. The wood is Fiji-grown Genuine Mahogany and its absolutely beautiful stock. The widest board in the project is 10 3/4″ and with this kit, I won’t need to do any glueups! Even in their rough state, the boards look clean and clear. Should make for a great chair! And how does it compare to the material purchased locally? All I can say is so far so good. I’ll know more as I begin to mill the stock and reveal the grain under the surface.

I started to do some initial layout and noticed that Bell was pretty generous in terms of what they placed in the kit. If I’m really careful with my cuts and conservative in my usage, I’m going to have quite a bit of stock left over. Hmm…footrest anyone?

If you’ve never tried mail-ordering wood, I highly recommend it. Just be sure to use a high quality dealer that stands behind their product. Bell Forest Products has never disappointed me. You also might want to check out Horizon Wood Products and CR Muterspaw. For full disclosure, both of those companies are advertisers but I have had the good fortune of sampling their products and I really liked what I saw.

For folks who live in remote areas or simply don’t have access to a wide variety of species, mail-ordering is a great way to get some quality lumber delivered to your doorstep. The more I do it, the more confidence I have in the process. Of course its always better to pick out the boards yourself when grain and color matching is a big concern, but some folks just don’t have that option. I know many of you are mail ordering wood quite frequently. So what dealers have you had success with?

Category: Wood

Comments

  1. Treefrogfurniture May 26, 2011

    I really like Duhnam hardwood out of Iowa, Marty works hard to get me the widths and lengths I need. The QSWO I get from him is heavily figured and clear, it’s better quality and less expensive than I can get locally. The 8/4 walnut I got from him for my Maloof rocker was perfect. Pricing is online for you to compare and packaging is great.
    Brad

  2. Dan R May 26, 2011

    Looks good, Marc!

    Has anybody had experience with woodvendors.com ? They seem to have good reviews within their own site – just hoping to find someone with personal experience.

    Enjoy the build!

  3. Terry Mck May 26, 2011

    I have been using a supplier in England called timbersource.co.uk and they are consistently good. I have just received around 100 board feet of French oak and African sapele from them. I asked for good figure and the guys in the warehouse selected what I wanted and I spoke over the phone to the office guys. They were all extremely knowledgable and efficient. There is just one board that has a tiny knot in it. The lumber is kiln dried and very little distortion is evident. A test cut on the table saw revealed no case hardening so it’s looking promising.

    Guild members in the UK try them out.

    Terry

    • taff May 26, 2011

      hi, i am only looking to start in the craft but have had virtually no luck getting hold of stock, nice to get a heads-up
      cheers

      • Terry McKnight May 27, 2011

        Hi Taff, not sure where you are in the UK but I am in the north west of England. I have found that there are a lot of hardwood mail order sites and all are reasonably priced. The killer as ever is shipping or minimum orders. One site I saw wanted you to order a minimum of

        • taff May 29, 2011

          cheers terry, great help, im down in south wales so will have to trust the guys……… only one way to find out ! making some dust is probably still a little while away as moving home to a house with a garage to accomodate a workshop and cant wait ! picking up bits of knowledge like this is fantastic and loving what marc does on the site.
          cheers again

  4. DALE May 26, 2011

    Did you get the Gaboon Ebony that is 3/8″ x 2″ x 8″ to cut out the plugs? I did not see it in the pics.

  5. I’ve had good service from Cook Woods in Klamath Falls, Oregon. They’ve got pretty good prices and are always running specials and are willing to help you out whenever they can. The only problem is that the shipping costs across the country really kill their good prices. I’ve mostly bought from them on Ebay as the shipping is sometimes a little less there for some reason.
    West Penn Hardwoods in Olean, New York has been good also. They’ve got a real good website with lots of information on the wood they sell.

  6. Bryan H May 26, 2011

    good to know that there are quite a few reliable sources out there….does the shipping costs skew the overall price a lot though?

    •  

      Depends on your local prices. There are shipping costs but if the lumber is significantly cheaper than you can get locally, you can still come out with a great deal. Never hurts to price it out and see.

  7. wil May 26, 2011

    Thats awesome! The chair will look good. I also have been successful in mail ordering wood. Thanks for the article.

  8. Chad - Mi. May 26, 2011

    I’m going to try the Exotic Wood Cutoff box from Bell Forest.

    • Robert May 26, 2011

      be sure to let us know how that works out. Im curious to what they send and its quality. Thanks

    • jersey mike June 6, 2011

      I ordered the grab bag. Got me some nice thin pieces of purpleheart that I used to pretty up a picture frame, a chunk of some black as night 2″ x 2″ x 24″ wood (it’s a bit wet and I dont know what it is), a couple of 1/2″ x 3″ x 12″ pieces of padauk , a nice 1x1x23″ piece of zebrawood, a thin piece of wenge, a little piece of ebony, some bright yellow piece that’s < 1" cubed, and a 1"x3"x15" piece of dark (almost black) wood that I cant identify. Except for the yellow piece, it's all workable sizes. There was a lot more than I was expecting.

  9. I have the very good luck of actually being local to CR Muterspaw (about a 20 minute drive). All of his stock is hit-miss planed and has always come flat enough that I can go straight to the planer. I would highly recommend their product!

  10. Carolynne May 26, 2011

    I love Bell Forest! My ash for my end table was wonderful!

  11. Terry Anderson May 26, 2011

    I’ve ordered from Bell several times and everything that I’ve received has been great!!

  12. Hal May 26, 2011

    Oh thats some nice wood you got there man, I’ve been a little intimidated by mail order lumber because of shipping prices these days.

  13. Matt May 26, 2011

    Marc, I bought the same pack and noticed there’s 8/4 and 4/4 wood. WIll we cut the 6/4 pieces out of the 8/4?

  14. Randy May 26, 2011

    I used to be local to Muterspaw. Nice family run business. I didn’t know they are mail-order now. I’ll have to consider that in the future.

  15. Steven Leonti May 26, 2011

    I also have ordered from Bell Forest & have been happy with the quality of the wood. Just received 2 very nice pieces of Sapele that I am going to use to make a small table. I have called them with questions about their wood & they were very helpful, no sales pitch either. I highly recommend purchasing from them.

    Steve

    • Peter B June 6, 2011

      I was looking at wood at my local dealer this weekend and the Sapele. An excellent alternative to Mahogany and the lady at the yard tells me the local boat guys love it. This would be my first time using it – anyone else have experience to share with this species?

  16. Christopher Stahl May 26, 2011

    I’ll throw another one up for West Penn Hardwoods in Olean, NY. They usually have some decent stock on clearance.

  17. Lone_Wolf May 26, 2011

    I have always had good luck from Bell Forest. I did have one package showed up in poor shape. One of the boards was cracked. A quick call and a free replacement board was on its way. They even shipped it express. It may not have been Bell Forest’s fault for the damage, but they sure stand behind their product. Good Customer Service goes a long way in my book.

  18. Don May 26, 2011

    Just ordered my wood from Bell.
    Can’t wait to see what I get and to get started on the build.
    Don

  19. Curt F May 26, 2011

    Thanks for the info. I might have to try Bell Forest

  20. Simon-Pierre May 27, 2011

    Thank you Mark. I did the exact thing when we bought the house. We have oak cabinets and diamond doors. I would sure do a better job now with the experience, but at least, they don’t have the orange look anymore.

    But god I hated to sand these diamond!!

    • Maybe I’m missing something, but what do you mean by diamond doors? Do you mean a diamond lattice? When I saw “diamond doors”, my first thought was that they must be some expensive cabinets!

  21. Matt B May 27, 2011

    I’m putting in another vote for Bell Forest Products, I have dealt with these guys exclusively for mail ordering wood, I don’t have a good hardwood supplier near me and seeing that they’re in the UP that makes them fellow Michiganders and I can’t turn that down. I just received some birdseye maple from them for the G&G inspired mirror frame and the figure is amazing. And for the adirondack chair package shipping is free in the continental U.S. for anyone concerned with that potential cost. Happy sawdust!

  22. Joe A May 27, 2011

    I live in Canada, and I noticed that many of the previously mentioned stores do not deliver outside of the US. Are there any stores that will deliver to Canada (preferably a Canadian lumber store because the shipping costs will be less)?

  23. Parker B. May 27, 2011

    I have also had good luck with Dunham Hardwood. They are a lot closer and have always treated me well.

  24. lobro4 May 27, 2011

    As far as service and quality of wood, I have never gone wrong with Woodworkers Source (in Arizona.) http://www.woodworkerssource.com/ They have frequent sales that make for a good value for your purchase.
    Another good source (and my favorite) is Downes and Reader (Massachusetts). http://www.downesandreader.com/ Shipping is very reasonable or even free on orders over 25 BF. They also promote responsible forestry.

  25. Bell Forest Products is awesome good wood at good prices and fast shipping.
    They are awesome.

  26. Todd Reid May 28, 2011

    Tell you what I just went to the mill today and purchased 50 BDF of 4/4 qtr sawn white oak (new A&C twin bed for my 8 year old), 4 BDF of 4/4 qtr sawn beech (wine rack for our annual animal shelter auction), 25 BDF 5/4 Ash two of the boards were 10″ wide, 25 BDF 4/4 qtr sawn Sycamore (bought for a buddy who builds canoes), and a short piece of 122 year old reclaimed walnut that the guy gave me. all for less than $400. Attached is a picture of the wood laying in my garage.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/4.....768814244/
    In case you would like to contact the guy his name is Mike and his is located in Woodsfield Ohio here is a link to one of his posts on craigslist. http://zanesville.craigslist.o.....17339.html

    Mike told me that he ships all over the United State, he has three Kilns on site and he showed me the first batch of 8,000 board feet of quarter sawn white oak that is 8/8 and 10″ wide. Beautiful stuff and I will own some of it in 6 weeks when its dry.

  27. Todd Reid May 28, 2011

    Mark,
    That was my first post on your site and my first trip to a lumber mill. I lost my virginity twice to day, WHAT! I was spoiled for tweny years in the military purchase all my lumber on post at the arts and craft shop. I watched your video last week and drove an hour and thiry minutes to the Mill that Mike owns. He has awesome showed me around, had my order on a cart that he verified that liked. Could not have been a more plesant experience. I told him about your sight and he was very interested. He has some free beech for you if you want to show us how to make a hand plan in a future video (thats a challenge). Thanks for all that you are doing to promote woodworking and giving us a place to share our experiences. Cheers

  28. Jesse May 28, 2011

    I have yet to go to buy lumber or order any online. Kinda scares me but I’m running out of the free wood my grandpa gave me and so I’m going to have to go soon. Fingers crossed my local mill is friendly.

  29. Ryan May 29, 2011

    Bell Forest Products is an AWESOME vendor to deal with. I was skeptical about mail ordering wood for most of the reasons that Marc outlines above, but the experience with these guys couldn’t have been any better. I am glad that they are now providing rough lumber for the guild build. I live in Texas and the weather/ambient humidity differs pretty substantially, but as long as you have time for the wood to acclimate, it’s an awesome deal.

    The project packs that they offer are amazing as well. In Dallas curly maple 4/4 goes for $8-$10 bdft. I bought 20 bdft from Bell Forest for what one 8ft long board would have cost here. I think more importantly, the wood they send in these project packs is not just scraps that they had laying around and are trying to get rid of. It is literally some of the most highly figured curly maple I have ever purchased. Also, they will try to meet special requests even in these packs. I needed some wider boards. Ask and ye shall receive in abundance. I would also say that they are rather generous in calculating a bdft. I haven’t measured, but I would estimate that I got more like 25-30. I would definitely buy again and with free shipping specials all the time, it’s difficult to beat. Hope this helps someone on the fence.

  30. kurt May 30, 2011

    I’ve only ordered once but was real happy with
    http://www.macbeath.com/ . I bought 10 bf. of hard maple
    to try them out. Price and product was good and shipping was just over $20. Just an option for people on the west coast.

  31. Nick May 31, 2011

    Hmm, never really gave much thought to mail order, new to the hobby and I guess I always thought you just had to find a hardwood dealer locally. Seems like people here have had some good luck, guess I will have to look into it.

    Thanks Marc!

    -Nick

  32. Thomas Tieffenbacher/Doc Savage 45 June 3, 2011

    Thanks for the information! Just starting to explore costs in building vs. outcomes.LOL I was suprised at various costing for commonly occurring hardwoods. Then there is exotics. Being a newby I feel I have to see, feel and touch the wood I want to use. Most of you commenting here have that experience. Any suggestions for southern MN???? :)

  33. jersey mike June 6, 2011

    I’ve ordered from bell forest a couple of time and been quite happy. I’m in Jersey City and have been having trouble finding a local source, so I went to teh intertubes.

  34. Fred June 8, 2011

    One of the coolest things about Bell Forest is the “hand pick your board” section of the site. They take pictures of the board you’re buying so, as they write on the website, “what you see is what you’ll get.” Another cool thing about BFP is you can call and speak to Boone and tell him your needs. I’m relatively new to woodworking and he works with me to figure out what I’m trying to say. He’s extremely knowledgeable and very friendly. Shipping is reasonable and being from Michigan I like to support their economy. Cheers!

  35. Thanks for this post Marc, and thanks to all the commentators. As someone who is trying to build an online retail lumber yard division for my company this feedback is all very important.

  36. Dean Jackson June 13, 2011

    I’ve gone with hardwoodemporium.com before; they’re about an hour drive from me, but it’s (far) easier to order than drive out there, as they’re only open when my boss is paying me to work. Friendly folks on the phone and in person, and well packed for shipping if I mail order it.

  37. I love mail order wood I order from Bell Forest all the time they are really helpful and quick.

    kylekwoodworks.com

  38. John O'Conner June 20, 2011

    For exotics I always prefer using Tropical Exotic Hardwoods (anexotichardwood.com). I have purchased some amazing pieces of Cocobolo from them over the years. A little limited when in comes to domestic species (maple, cherry, walnut, etc.), but for hard to find exotics they always seem to have the best selection and the most reasonable prices around. Gilmer Hardwoods is another favorite that comes to mind.

    -John

  39. Joe June 27, 2011

    good stuff!

  40. Bryan V June 30, 2011

    Wow, glad to know that mail order wood can be somewhat reliable, i need to research and see if there are mills in the area.

  41. Terry July 1, 2011

    Here’s some more info for UK people. I had difficulty in tracking down some oak veneered faced plywood as locally most of it is the box store stuff that comes from China. Good for making jogs but no good for furniture.

    However I found SL Hardwoods in Croydon, South London. They supply to all of the UK and have a nextday delivery at resonable rates. They have a big supply of exotics as well as european woods.

    I ordered a few 8 x 4 sheets of 6mm veneered plywood and the order arrived this morning. The packaging was top notch and the quality of the facings is superb. Again the ply is undersize so I have to buy a 7/32″ router cutter for the frames I’m putting them into.

    Well recommended.

  42. Dennis July 15, 2011

    Anybody know a source for quarter sawn Cherry?

  43. Dennis July 15, 2011

    I live in Virginia.

  44. Bell forrest is agreat company to deal with I have bought
    a lot of wood from them and I have yet to get a bad piece.

  45. Bill Sanson December 23, 2011

    Hi all, as one other poster eluded to buying here in Canada can be very challenging. Curious if anyone has any recommendations for us north of the border.

  46. The Hardwood Emporium, that was in Elizabeth, PA was sold to Mars Lumber Inc. in October 2011; we have been updating the site daily!!! Hope you enjoy!!!

  47. Bellforest.com is the only place I’ve bought my wood. I mainly deal with cutting boards but am slowly branching out because of this awesome site. (THANK YOU MARC!) I will say that Bell Forest actually gave me a military discount when I asked if they had one. Never thought that any wood dealer would do that for me. Thanks Bell Forest!

  48. Martyn November 4, 2013

    Does anyone know wood suppliers near to Malaga, Spain? Looked everywhere without success.

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