Looking for cheap lumber for hobby woodworking or building projects? Here are our best tips for getting a good deal!
Lumber is getting expensive. It’s been getting expensive for a while.
It’s really effecting us – we buy a ton of wood and building supplies and the increased costs are definitely hitting our bank account.
When you are a DIY-er, a major motivation is saving money compared to buying new.
As lumber gets more expensive, DIY gets more expensive and therefore less appealing.
However, lumber prices going up is effecting DIYers and professionals as the lumber cost for everyone is increasing.
While the costs are predicted to come down, it’s likely to be a little while before that happens.
So, we want to share ideas based on experience and research for how to get cheap and free lumber for your woodworking projects!
How to get cheap lumber
My go-to source for cheap things like lumber will always be my neighborhood facebook group.
Simply make a post stating that you are looking for scrap or excess lumber.
You’d be surprised at how many neighbors buy a 2×4 or two for a project that never happens and their wife would love to get it out of the garage.
Obviously offer to pay if asked for a reasonable amount, but I say don’t lead with that. Many people are willing to give this kind of stuff away!
Always be respectful and polite when asking.
Break down secondhand furniture
You can purchase dated furniture secondhand on Facebook Marketplace, at thrift stores, or at yard sales.
Often this furniture is made of high quality wood but it’s cheap because the design is dated.
Don’t forget that things like broken couches can have wood framing inside.
We actually got a free old oak church pew from an older gentleman on NextDoor and the wood is just waiting for the perfect build!
This can be a lot of work for a little reward, but it’s something that can work if you have plenty of time and not much money.
Cabinet maker or local wood shop
Look online for cabinet makers or people who install things like built ins in your area. Local wood flooring shops, too!
Reach out to see if they might have scrap wood they will sell you! Be polite and call in advance – don’t just show up. You never know what they will say!
Sean used to go to a cabinet place near our old house and buy their cut offs of unusual wood for really good prices.
This is a great way to get smaller cut off type pieces of higher end woods, though we have gotten some longer boards this way.
Reach out to your local lumberyard and see if they sell bundled wood. This is often damaged or for whatever reason undesirable pieces.
If you are willing to make it work and buy a decent quantity, you might can get a deal.
How to get free wood
There are some places that you can get wood for absolutely free.
Wood pallets are often available for free from large stores or even neighbors who get a big shipment.
We’ve found lots of goodies in roadside trash!
The best tip is to drive around the morning of or night before bulk pickup and see what you can find! Bring gloves!
Volunteer for a breakdown
Look out for neighbors wanting to take down a deck, fence, or something similar.
You can ask for the wood -but be prepared to offer some sweat equity in exchange for it!
I used to use Freecycle a lot when I lived in North Carolina – it’s a great way to connect people who don’t like to create waste with those looking for something!
They are set up locally but are often facebook groups, forums, or even email lists.
Construction sites are known for throwing away a LOT of good lumber. It may have nails in it or it may be totally fine.
Especially with the current lumber climate, always ask permission before diving into someone’s dumpter for wood!
Find fallen trees
You can gather fallen logs or trees and turn them into lumber, but you will need a lot of specialized tools and time to let it dry out.
Firewood type wood can be good if you like to do wood carving or make larger tools like mallets from wood chunks.
Assess the material that you actually need
Sometimes, buying wood is unavoidable. While the prices are high, it’s a good time to assess what you actually need to buy.
The price of standard building lumber – inexpensive wood like plywood and pine – is what has been effected the most by the increase.
So, that might mean selecting different build materials.
If you are building something simple like shelves for your closet, maybe it’s worth the savings to just use MDF this time around.
If you are building something nicer, like a piece of furniture, look at the price of nicer hardwood.
This might sound counter intuitive, but with the price of “cheap” lumber so high, higher end woods are no longer much of an $ upgrade.
In other words, if you’re going to pay $30 a board for pine, you might as well pay $40 and get some oak.