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Thread: Exotic wood import business in the Eastern US?

  1. #1
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    Exotic wood import business in the Eastern US?

    I've got a project going where I need to be able to source unusually figured wood, and I've been told to look into some of the more exotic species as they offer a much larger range of figuring and color compared to our domestic species.

    Only question is...what are some of the major exotic wood import businesses on the East coast of the US? Or what cities I should look to find them? I'm thinking coastal port cities but honestly I'd go anywhere in the Eastern US if that's where the wood is.

    Thanks!
    If the end of the world ever comes move to Kentucky, because everything there happens 20 years later. ~ Mark Twain
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  2. #2
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    Depending on species and sizes, Green Valley Wood Products in Brazil, IN (gvwp.net) might be able to fill your need. If so, they would be driving distance if you wanted to pick your own. Dave also does a great job at finding good shipping rates, and i'd trust him to pick lumber if you can give him good direction on what you you're looking for.

    Cook Woods out in Oregon somewhere usually has a great selection of exotics, but tends to be pricy.

    There are a few folks on another forum i read that do a good bit of Australian burls, either in bowl blanks or whole (like 100-1,000 pound) burls.

    Green Valley would be a great starting point.

  3. #3
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    Cormark International is located just north of Asheville, NC. They are a direct importer of exotics. They always gave me great service.

  4. #4
    Of the ones i'm willing to name on a public forum

    West Penn Hardwoods & World Timber Corp, both in NC are people i used to deal with. First Joe/WTC, when they had a huge warehouse near Allentown, a few decades ago. Walk in a see bunks of exotics stacked like common #2 framing lumber. Those days are gone. A little later i was one of Rocky's very early customers when he started selling his FIL's sawmill production near Olean, NY; and began branching out into exotics. He helped me out on some larger projects over the years. Really sorry both of them had to move south. WPH used to stack great piles of exotics, too, but i think he found it makes more money to sell pen blanks and turning squares, but seems to still have depth. He also pays attention and understands what you are trying to convey if you have a special request. He wants you to be successful. Or at least that was my experience before he moved south a dozen years ago.

    Oh, a couple more: If you really just want figure, lots of figure, and matching figure, it is worth trying Lou Irion. Most people think of him for Mahogany, which is all he used to sell. But in the past couple decades he has branched out into other lumber, especially if it is figured. Domestic stuff like flame birch, figured butternut and walnut, curly hard maple, wide cherry, sometimes with wild figure, currently wide ash (not figured)


    BTW, if you are not normally a buyer of "exotics" verify that the material is in the dry condition you need to work it. A lot of spectacular small stuff (shorts, sometimes) is not dried and you won't get it dry for a decade. "Turning blanks" are not expected to be dry, unless the vendor verifies that it has been KD.

    Good luck!
    It would be interesting to hear what kind of work you will be doing.
    Last edited by Keith Outten; 05-16-2024 at 2:17 PM.

  5. #5
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    This place has a lot of options, love to go there in person.

    https://amazonexotichardwoods.com/

  6. #6
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    I happened by chance into Exotic Lumber in Annapolis MA. An astonishing collection of (huge!) burls and what looked like most of the ebony in north America. Quite a range of other "exotic woods" as well. The bundle of ebony scraps I bought there will keep me in pegs for years.

  7. #7
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    Goose Bay Lumber in Chichester NH has an impressive selection of exotics.

    https://goosebaylumber.net/lumber/exotic-lumber/

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Maurice Mcmurry View Post
    Goose Bay Lumber in Chichester NH has an impressive selection of exotics.

    https://goosebaylumber.net/lumber/exotic-lumber/
    Another vote for Goose Bay - just visited them for the first time yesterday

  9. #9
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    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....Turning-Blanks

    Call David Borek, his business is in Texas, I think he told me he had a couple of million dollars of exotic lumber, just about anything you can imagine.
    He has exotic lumber that you cannot import anymore that he purchased a several decades ago. David is very friendly guy, I have known him for a couple of years, he recently registered here at The Creek.

  10. #10
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    Hearne Hardwoods is one good source.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
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    Carleton McLendon Rare Woods and Veneers - metro Atlanta
    https://www.rarewoodsandveneers.com/

  12. #12
    Hearne Hardwoods is one good source.


    Oops, my bad, i need to apologize.
    My experiences described as with Sandy Pond above, were actually with Rick Hearne.
    That's what happens when you get old.
    My initial contact was when he was breaking away from Sandy Pond, still in that area.
    My other was in the current Oxford location.
    They have good lumber, the prices are fair. It was one association i tried off and on over the years, and did not click. Just 2 different personalities, and when i was quoting for government jobs, i was particular.
    A 3rd instance was me calling up for material, and a salesperson there (not Rick) spouted off about how i'd be lucky to get what i was asking about because it was reserved for a job at the White House. I just listened.
    (It was my job, someone else had apparently asked for a quote on it) I commented that that was really interesting and wished them luck, but did not buy it there for the project.

    OTOH. be in business long enough and people will have stories about you, too.
    So what i am saying is i want to mention them as a resource, even though my experiences have been 2-1/2 good, to 2-1/2 less than fully satisfactory, going back some 30+ years.
    On one good occasion, they did pay attention and found exactly what i needed for a folded ribbon boarder at Treasury.

    Also, cat's out of the bag re: Exotic Lumber in Annapolis, so might as well mention Roberts Die Board on LI.
    Exotic is relatively deep in good materials and the people are phenomenal. No Airs. Closer to what things were like in the old days.
    Roberts i have only bought plywood rounds or 1/2 rounds from, But they intermittently have a lot of exotics.

    Last edited by stephen thomas; 05-15-2024 at 5:08 PM.

  13. #13
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    Keim lumber near Millersburg ohio has an excellent collection. Do not think they would ship.

    no affiliation, just a customer.

  14. #14
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    Steve, I've been buying from Hearne for many years now. My cousin's son even worked for them for awhile. I've never had an issue and enjoy my twice a year trek to what I consider a "candy store" for woodworking to look for special things, one being English Brown Oak. (I buy regular domestics locally at Bucks County Hardwoods who coincidentally are one of Nakashima's suppliers) Their operation is much larger now, too.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. #15
    Jim - i always wanted it to work, too. And certainly hope everyone except me had the perfect relationship! But when i had specs in the old days, i had to meet them and did not need puff stories. And that first batch of lumber was quite honestly, almost rotten. It had shelf fungus (KD, though ) on it so you can imagine what the log must have been like. "Spalted" to be kind, but not in any kind of interesting way. It also had pieces with knots and cat-faces right across the center of more than a few boards. I needed (spec'd) 12 foot white oak boards that were plain sawn and mostly 6" & wider with no major knots to resaw here at the shop, and bend-laminate into curved & contoured church pew backs for 6 ea 11' long radius pews, to match a set from the turn of the 19th c, for a local congregation. So it was a simple order. I can't even remember why i decided to try him, maybe an ad in one of the papers, and i was tired of dealing with Mann & Parker. I ended up defecting out & using those boards as core stock, and went back to Mann & Parker, or possibly Lafferty, for the face material.

    Mann & Parker was my go-to company for quality, except i and several others just got tired of the games played in their office. Every lumber co adds shrinkage, usually between 5% - 10%
    M & P routinely added 20 - 25% to a 1,000 ft order. They were very good at making it up if you called, gave the tally of each individual board, and negotiated on the phone. But why should that be necessary?
    Sometime before i started looking around, they had shipped an order for something like 1,100 ft of 6/4 walnut that tallied at my warehouse to less than 800 ft. That is not an insignificant $amount. They were generous when i called and we went over each individual board. But it just got tiresome.

    It would be helpful to understand the OP's expectation for quantity, typical lengths, and maybe width if that is a factor.
    For instance, Lewis Lumber in Picture Rocks, PA is a good source for many things, and they custom cut long hard maple for several projects i did until it became a pain even for them to source the lengths routinely. (2 miles of 2 pc nosings so we could bend all the curves in Strathmore Music Center; all the risers for the curved altar steps and altar area a the 7th Day Adventist home church in Sligo Creek, e.g.). If you get to the manager, i still prefer to deal with Lewis Lumber, but place only very occasional orders & seldom over 200 ft any more. They have a great walk-in retail space, and they are working to build inventory in more common exotics. (See their line card)

    Depending on the species of exotic, you have to be prepared to check multiple sources. Say for (true) rosewoods, (true) ebony, satinwood. Because not everyone has good supplies all the time. Then someone else will get a load of "good stuff" and you have to be quick. For more common types, you can shop around for price. Exotic Lumber in Annapolis, as has been mentioned, is a great resource almost always. So is Rocky Mehta/West Penn Hardwoods, but i will gripe forever more that he moved from being local to "somewhere down south"

    Depending on his specs, it still seems that the OP might possibly be well served by domestic "exotics" from Lou Irion, who thankfully had the foresight to move a bit north.

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