Cheaper Wood is OK


Don’t be afraid of using lesser woods when building. Recently, I was pricing out a project and breaking down the lumber cost, and was shocked at how high a figure I was reaching.

I could try to use sheet goods (plywood), but I had specific parameters of keeping this project solid wood throughout.

I quickly dropped down to the next cheapest wood. Still too high. Then I went down to a wood with which I wouldn’t normally build (sometimes I can be snobby that way). Bingo! I cut the lumber cost in half – from $200 to $100. 

Now, I don’t normally like to scrimp on the quality of lumber I use, but this particular project is aimed at beginning woodworkers and will be painted, so no worries about matching grain patterns, etc. I’ll also assemble it in a way that beefs up the construction simply by the way it is built, so I’m not concerned about the structural integrity of the lumber either. In other words, I’m not using a hardwood when a softwood will do just fine.

This little bit of effort, and math, will probably make this project a lot more approachable to a lot more people.

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Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 1:20 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Instead of fence pickets, I used actual cedar boards that are finished on one side. Makes it more expensive, but definitely improves the look of the bench. Guess it works both ways. This is a great piece of advice!

  2. What’s a good wood for an outdoor project? I was thinking pressure treated with a stain.

    • Pressure treated, cedar, redwood are the most commonly available.


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