Evaluating a Shed Full of Boards

Advice on a sensible cash offer for a load of Oak that has been in dry storage for 16 years. April 24, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I have a bulk supply of 1000 plus board feet of white/red oak that was air dried in a dry storage shed for 16 years. I have offered $500 for the material and the seller has countered $600. I understand I must look for a type of beetle and the quality of the lumber. Does anyone have any feedback regarding techniques to determine quality-and value, and furthermore to be sure the oak beetle isn't present in the lumber?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Contributor E:
The moisture content will probably be about 12% and will need to be dried more before using for indoor use. If there are knots or twisting or warping of the boards, expect up to 50% loss getting usable material out of it.

From the original questioner:
Should I counter with a lower offer?

From Contributor K:
Quality determines everything here. You need to be somewhat familiar with the grading system to know what you have. If itís whatís called "mill run", meaning the whole log is in there, or it wasn't sawn well, you can have upwards of 50% junk to either saw up or burn depending on how much time you have on your hands. I look at these deals and try to figure how much select grade and No. 1 grade lumber there is and disregard all the other lumber that folks pile up and save when they have logs sawn. Then I ask myself what I would pay for that particular amount of lumber that is actually what I want. You may be better off for example telling them you are willing to pay more per board foot and pull out the select lumber for instance, say $.75 per board foot as 12" wide select red oak can run over $6 a board foot at the retail store. You have to make some value checks. A diamond in the rough may be worth a million dollars or it might go on the end of a drill bit.

As far as the bugs, I think powder post beetle might be a biggie. They leave whatís called "frass" or little sawdust piles where the adults bore out to restart the cycle of wrecking the lumber from the inside out. Old barns encourage PPB as most old barns around me have them in the timbers.

How well the lumber was sawn is a biggie if you are dressing it. If itís thick and thin, wavy etc. I wouldn't take it for free. Also don't rely on the estimates of board feet. Do a rough measure of width x length of stack to get a ballpark idea. This is where buying only the good stuff for a higher price helps you as well, because I would scale it as I bought it, and leave the pallet grade lumber behind. That being said, if it was cut well from a really nice forest grown tree I would be asking $1 per board foot for No. 1 and select in a 50/50 mix, so $.60 sounds like a good price there.