Crotch wood cut into slabs with a chainsaw

Crotch wood cut into slabs with a chainsaw


Blue stain pine used for ceiling material

Blue stain pine used for ceiling material


Bookmatched spalted maple

Bookmatched spalted maple


Spalted maple bowl

Spalted maple bowl


The recent posts on Pallet Furniture and building with Recycled Wood got me thinking about other types of low cost or even free wood for furniture, woodenware and home building. That word “free” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Okay, it’s not always free. Sometimes you have to pay a small amount for the locally scavenged woods listed below, but the cost is still far below any wood you’ll find from building supply centers and woodworker suppliers. You could make a nice little sideline income from these ideas.

– Wood from tree trimmers: Most of the time they’re trimming branches off low value trees that aren’t worth your bother. But get to know your tree trimmers because sooner or later they’ll be cutting more valuable trees along roads, power lines and the like, and to make way for new building projects and clean up after storms. These companies are often glad to have people haul off the wood so they don’t have to.
– Crotch wood: This is wood from forks in the tree. The twisted grain makes fantastic woodenware, a favorite among carvers and woodturners. You can also bandsaw it into bookmatched panel stock. And yes, you can get truckloads of it from tree trimming companies.
– Wood obtained with firewood permits: You don’t have to burn the wood, of course. Not sure of the latest cost, but we used to get several truckloads of wood from US forests for about $20. These clearing operations thin out overcrowded forests to reduce forest fires and improve the health of the forests… might as well put it to good use.
– Blue stain (beetle kill) pine: Countless acres of US forests have succumbed to mountain pine beetles. The wood develops a distinct blue-gray discoloration that often lowers it’s value. Sometimes it’s sold at normal price as something trendy, but you may be able to buy it extremely cheap if you shop around. Tip: You can apply a ‘whitewash’ (white pigmented stain) and lacquer finish to maintain the color, otherwise it often turns quite dark.
– Spalted wood: Fungus creates unique patterns and wood coloration in live and dead trees. Spalted maple is perhaps the most common due to the striking grain patterns.
– Rough sawn lumber: Buying wood directly from a local sawmill is another way to cut costs. You may also find self-employed individuals who mill wood on a bandmill and sell direct.

Image source: Wood Web
Image source: The Lumber Room
Image source: Veddar Mountain Hardwoods
Image source: Hobbit House, Inc. (Be sure to check out their homepage for color photos of hundreds of types of wood.)


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