I am a small furniture shop that is looking for references of some top quality lumber suppliers in the Pacific Northwest. I am specifically looking for a quality supplier of quartersawn white oak. I have used the "lumber quote forum" in the past and have purchased lumber from some of the listed suppliers. What I am looking for is the word of mouth of suppliers that some of you are happy with. Since I am not able to personally view the lumber beforehand, I have ended up purchasing it sight unseen and at times, have been disappointed with some of the suppliers. I was hoping that some of you may have a great source for this type of lumber that you would be willing to share with me.
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor F:
I am in the Pacific Northwest too and I think itís the same story everywhere. If you order hardwood to be delivered to your shop, the supplier is going to pull the number of board feet you ordered right off the top of the stack and if you are like me, it is usually disappointing.
In the old days I had suppliers who would allow me to sort through a stack of boards if I would restack the pile neatly. Then, at times I have had suppliers allow me to choose my own boards but charged me a $.10 a board foot premium for the privilege (worth it to me).
These days, it is difficult to even get a supplier to let you choose at all. At one supplier, the fork lift driver will come to the loading dock with the full unit on the forks if you show up unannounced at the will call section. This worked for me a few times until I guess I got a little to choosey with a unit of cherry. When I went to the will call desk to get my paperwork, I was told that the fork lift driver had "walkie talkied" in that I hand selected instead of pulling the boards straight from the top of the unit. They charged me a dollar a board foot extra for that load!
Lastly, I have worked for guys whose strategy was to buy hardwood by the boxcar load. The logic being that the mills donít have enough poor lumber to fill a box car so you will get plenty of good boards.
Contributor P - I used to own and operate a Sawmill and sold many 1000's of board feet of lumber. My policy was if the customer didnít want the board, he didnít buy it. I sold him only what he wanted. I never tried to slip "junk or crap" boards into an order just to avoid eating the loss on the "crap" board. This is what I am talking about. I still have past customers calling me up and begging for me to get back into the sawmill business.
When purchasing FAS one should never receive boards that are split completely down the middle or have still have chainsaw cuts over halfway through the board, etc., etc. You say start by being a good customer. Is being a "good" customer paying top dollar for FAS and getting 10-20% of your order with boards that are worthless to use for that purpose but just be grateful?
Whatever happened to just getting what you pay for - nothing more, nothing less. I have always been a "good" customer. That is not the problem. What the problem is quality assurance by some of the lumber supplies. They can increase their profit margins by passing on the "crap" boards that should have been culled out by anyone with half a conscience. When any of us are paying 3000-5000 for FAS per MBF, why should we have to settle for 10-20% of the order to be "crap"? Thereís a $300-$1000 possible loss right from the get go.
Most businesses thrive or fail due to the word of mouth of the "good" customers. All I am looking for is if anyone has a decent source for lumber.
Truth is, it was an excellent unit and what I left behind was nice stock, thatís why I was surprised. In that case, I was making moldings and if 6.5" would net 2 blanks but 6.25" wouldn't. I left the wider material alone.
I donít apologies for trying to obtain the material I know I need for my work. I buy the quantities I need or want. If I find a good deal and have the cash, I buy for inventory. I buy with regularity of my needs.
Donít look down on business that doesn't have your purchasing power. Just count your blessings. Iím sure you are getting all the lumber you need in spite of me. I mentioned my experiences old and new to illustrate that times change and the art of procuring fine materials for fine work changes with the times and with the available supply.
I still think that it would be reasonable to expect to pay more for the very highest quality boards. However, let me again apologize for the strong words, and I realize that my purchasing power gives me some options not available to others, like the opportunity to play several dealers off against each other. If you were in the Northeast I would have several recommendations for you - dealers that have given me excellent service as we have grown. Don't know anything at all about Northwest suppliers, though.