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Thread: Imported Lumber Source

  1. #1

    Imported Lumber Source

    Good morning everyone,

    My apologies if thereís a better place for this post, or if Iíve missed an obvious place to find the information Iím looking for. Iím having a bit of a difficult time sourcing lumber and I wonder if the forum might help me out. My wife and I recently retired and moved back to my home state of Wisconsin. Prior to that we were stationed in Northern California and I was utterly spoiled having MacBeath just about an hour away from me and I literally could get whatever kind of lumber I wanted, whenever I wanted.

    Again I find myself somewhat spoiled with the amount of Amish communities around us, thereby satisfying pretty much all my domestic needs, but I have yet to find anyplace where I can reliably get imported hardwoods. Iím going to need a LOT of mahogany coming up as Iím turning one of our downstairs rooms into a old-fashioned wood-paneled study that I hope would make the Greenes and Halls smile. Thatís in addition to our bedroom set, a desk, and possibly dining set as well.

    Weíre only about 90 minutes away from the Twin Cities in Eau Claire, WI but thus far have only come up with the typical woodworker Ďbox storeí like Rockler or Woodcraft. Iíd really appreciate any insight from folks back here in the Midwest. I spent the majority of my time in the Air Force on the road so 6-8 hours driving isnít really a big deal and Iíd be willing to plan an overnight trip with a trailer if need be to load up a batch if the selection was worth the drive.

    Much thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Orwell, NY
    Posts
    495
    I get African mahogany (among other things) from Bell Forest Products in MI, they have very nice wood and are always very helpful when I email for an order. I just got 100 BF of 5/4 delivered yesterday by truck, it's really good quality. There may be better options that someone local to your area will know about.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,631
    Before you lay in a supply of exotic hardwoods, get a "taster pack" by mail. I think Hearne still ships these on request.

    Some of the South American and African stuff can cause pronounced allergic response in North Americans of European descent.

    https://www.wood-database.com/wood-a...-and-toxicity/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Crystal Lake, IL
    Posts
    83
    I'm not familiar with the western side of WI, but in the east I've done business with both Kettle Moraine Hardwoods and Badger Hardwoods. Both carry a decent selection of imported lumber and are great to deal with.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    2,399
    If you're buying in any kind of quantity it turns out (it took me a long time to discover this) that LTL truck freight is surprisingly fast and cheap. I'd talk with the larger wholesalers anywhere it the midwest and you may find that even with freight included if you're buying a couple hundred bf it may well be cheaper and better, more consistent quality than a small local source.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Orwell, NY
    Posts
    495
    Even from MI to NY LTL cost is not that bad, well worth it for me to get access to really nice curly maple and African mahogany and no more expensive than buying locally. I can't choose my own boards, but all of the boards they send me are at least as nice as what I've been able to get locally before.

  7. #7
    Irion Lumber in PA will ship by truck. They are known for their domestic hardwoods but also stock good quality Honduras mahogany. They are very reliable and will pick to your specs from their inventory.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    NW Indiana
    Posts
    2,638
    Check with Owl Hardwood in Chicago

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    2,909
    Iíll second Bell Forest Products in Ishpeming, MI. Iíd guess about a 4 hour or so drive for you. Not sure Iíd go in the winter, but great scenery along the Lake Superior coast line and would make for a nice summer road trip.

    And thank you for your service!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Somewhere in the Land of Lincoln
    Posts
    1,474
    Here are some options and it looks like one or two are in your general area.

    thehomewoodworker.com/hardwood-lumber-in-wisconsin-10-top-lumber-stores-for-woodworkers/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    1,717
    Jonathan, the Menards* in my area say they can order Mahogany. I'm guessing you have them in Wisconsin. Might be worth looking into.

    * a midwest big box retailer like a Home Depot on steroids.

  12. #12
    Go to the MN Woodworker Guild site and go to the discount page (I think I can post the link below), and look a the hardwood suppliers, also check out the link for the "Youngblood" alternatives. They have a good listing of most of the suppliers in the Cities. I know some of them carry imported wood. Some of the wholsesale places will only sell to you if you a member of the Guild, but the savings you get for your $30 yearly dues usually gets made up in a single purchase.

    https://www.mnwwg.org/discounts.html

    https://www.mnwwg.org/docs/youngblood_options.pdf



    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Calow View Post
    Jonathan, the Menards* in my area say they can order Mahogany. I'm guessing you have them in Wisconsin. Might be worth looking into.

    * a midwest big box retailer like a Home Depot on steroids.
    Stan, Eau Claire, Wisconsin is the corporate headquarters and original location of Menards Once, when I asked the guy at Home Depot about a fitting I couldn't find there he said "Try Menards, they have everything"

  13. #13
    Thank you all for your recommendations! My project for this evening will be combing through all these suppliers. Roger I hadnít even considered that freight would be relatively cheap considering itís convenience. That definitely opens up several more options as others have noted.

    By all means keep them coming if you like. Iíll definitely take more options and Iím sure someone else may stumble upon this thread one day. The more the better and thanks again!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,631
    If you don't yet know anyone in the thick of things, I find woodturners a helpful and enthusiastic resource.

    http://www.crwoodturner.com/members.shtml

    Not for nothing but your local arborist might help chase down local leads, too.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    10,462
    I don't know of a larger importer than World Timber https://www.worldtimbercorp.com/ I know a gentleman who buys a lot of wood from them, thousands of $$ at a time.
    They are across the country from you but if buying enough it might be worth a road trip with a trailer or truck.

    JKJ

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