Cheap Lumber: Find Great Furniture Wood in Piles of Floor Joists


| 4/20/2017 10:03:00 AM


Tags: Steve Maxwell, Ontario, Canada, wood working, used lumber,

Next time you visit a lumberyard, check out the piles of cheap lumber 2x8s, 2x10s and 2x12s meant for framing houses. Where I live the best planks must come from huge, old trees because the growth rings are tight, the grain is beautiful and the very best boards have almost no knots. You may never have considered using framing lumber for fine furniture, but I know from nearly 30 years experience that cheap lumber like this is a diamond in the rough. The woodwork you see here is made entirely from cheap lumber milled for construction.

Before I tell you more, let me make it clear that I’m not talking about throwing together rough tables, cupboards, boxes and stools with deck screws.  There’s nothing wrong with this, but that’s not what this blog is about. What I’m talking about is making finely finished, ultra-smooth, refined furniture from wood that starts off as big, wide planks for house frames. I mill, joint and plane these with the same care I apply to the furniture-grade hardwoods I use in my shop and the results are every bit as refined at a fraction of the cost.

I discovered the secret of cheap, high-quality framing lumber for furniture back in the late 1980s. The 1/4”-thick shop-cut “veneer” you see on the drawer face here is an example of the kind of thing that’s possible. But what got me thinking about all this most recently is a YouTube video I posted in 2010. Until a couple of months ago, this video only got a few thousand views. Earlier this year something clicked, and now it’s my most popular video – about 75,000 views per month. Many of the comments are positive, but some are skeptical, like these:

“That kind of wood doesn’t take a nice finish”, some people warn.




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