Buying lumber can be an intimidating process. There are many considerations that must be made and each will ultimately impact your timeline, project, and sanity. The good news: There are ways you can make the process a little easier on yourself while ensuring you get the quality of lumber you need. 

To start, your lumber buying experience will be much smoother if you know what specie, thickness, grade, length, milling options and quantity you want. Knowing these things will also help determine some of the questions you should be asking the lumber supplier you are considering. In this blog we cover a number of these questions, as well as some common lumber terms. For additional insights, feel free to read our Understanding Common Lumber Terms blog to familiarize yourself with these key lumber terms if they are new to you. 

Here are a few key questions you should ask your lumber supplier. Their answers will help you determine whether they are a good fit for you and your lumber needs. 

What is the smallest quantity of lumber you sell? Do you have a way to ship the lumber to me?

As some of you might know, not all lumber yards/suppliers sell small quantities of lumber. And what I mean by small quantities is anything less 1000 board feet. Some will only sell lumber by the truckload. That’s about 13,000 board feet! You need at ask the supplier if they sell lumber in the quantity you need. This should be your first question. If they don’t sell lumber in the quantities you need, that’s all you need to know. It doesn’t make sense to waste any more of your time. If they do sell lumber in the quantity you need, ask if they can ship it to you (if needed) and what those shipping costs will be. Many companies are not set up or designed to ship less than load (LTL) or small boxes of lumber. If you need the lumber shipped to you and they can’t do it, once again, don’t waste any more of your time. 

Can you straight line rip and/or sand lumber to a specific thickness?

It is also important to know if you need rough, S2S, SLR1E, and/or sanded to thickness products. Not all companies carry or can produce lumber with these specific milling options. If you are looking for certain milling options, it is important to ask if they can meet this demand.

What species do you sell and what do you specialize in? What thicknesses do you carry?

After you have asked the previous questions, it now makes sense to see if they carry the specie in the thickness you want. At this point the sales rep will probably ask you for the grade you need. If you don’t know the specific grade, you could explain what project you will be making or ask for the highest grade they sell. Lumber supplier’s inventories are constantly changing so they can never guarantee they will always have the specie, grade, and thickness you need. It might not be a bad idea to ask what they usually have on hand or what they specialize in. This will give you a mental gauge of how dependable that supplier is for specific species and grades. 

What region does your lumber come from? Do you dry all of the lumber you sell in house?

Lumber sales reps should love when you ask them about their company. They love to inform and share information with people. Asking any questions about their company will lead to a great conversation. But the specific questions mentioned above will help you determine how consistent their lumber will be from order to order. If they tell you they buy lumber from all over the country and they don’t dry the lumber themselves, this doesn’t automatically mean they won’t be consistent. You will ultimately have to determine this by purchasing and using their lumber a few times before forming a conclusion. If you like more info on the importance of consistency and how it affects your projects, check out our blog, Consistency of Key.

Fine Craftsman Lumber

Fine Craftsman Lumber specializes in selling and shipping less than truckload quantities of lumber. We ship lumber to all parts of the continental US. We sell lumber in a few different forms; rough, S2S, SLR1E, and sanded. We are also capable to machine custom rips and sand to custom thicknesses. Most of the lumber we sell, we cut and dry ourselves. We outsource a few species, but we make sure to monitor consistency throughout all orders. If you have any questions about us or our products, don’t hesitate to call us at 1-888-903-3133 or email us at [email protected].   

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