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Thread: Cost of shipping lumber worth it?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Frederick, CO - N. Denver

    Cost of shipping lumber worth it?

    Hey all,

    Being in the middle of the nation, it seems a lot of the big company online lumber companies are on the coasts. I was wondering what everyone was seeing in terms of reduced cost of lumber w/ the addition of shipping?

    Any general pros/cons or is it simply looking for the good deals that make up the shipping costs. What is the general prices on freight for larger loads, generally speaking anyway?

    Where are the deals?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    I don't know where you live, But I am in CO, and it was less expensive for me to have it shipped here from PA than my local prices.

    Check with Mike Morgan, he will get you a quote.

    In my case, 4/4 Hard Maple locally was in the +$5/BF range, I had it delivered for somewhere under $4/BF, and it was better quality than what I could get locally. Sorry I don't know the exact breakdown since I had a mixed load of species and thicknesses.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Frederick, CO - N. Denver
    Thanks Craig! Yeah, I'm just North of Denver in fact.
    I shot Mike an email.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Wichita, Kansas
    I agree with Craig. I ordered a total of about eight hundred board feet of rough cut red oak, white oak, and ash from a lumber mill in Kentucky when I retired a while back. The total cost at that time including shipping was much less than what it would have cost buying locally. That was before the explosion in fuel costs, but since shipping costs are also a factor in the local prices, I'd expect the ratio to remain fairly constant. At least I hope so since my lumber rack has some bare shelves.
    Tom Veatch
    Wichita, KS

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Depending on your local supply, shipping in can have financial and variety advantages. Yes, shipping does add to the cost (and delivery to a home address can raise that), but there are ways to mitigate it. In general, larger quantities reduce the transportation cost per board foot substantially, since small LTL shipments can cost nearly the same to ship as larger ones. So, either buy a larger quantity for your self or get together with a few folks for a combined order to leverage the shipping cost further. Also, it's best to pick up at the trucking terminal if you want to minimize cost. As I mentioned, delivery to a residential address can add additional cost and complications.

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

  6. #6
    Major shippers get huge discounts from the trucking companies... in the order of 70-80% discount (yes, they only pay 30% of what you would pay if you made a single shipment). So these rules of thumb are assuming a major shipper.

    Picking up at the truck terminal (typically open 20 hours per day, 6 days per week) will save you about $50 over residential delivery.

    I bought 100 board feet from Wall Lumber (North Carolina to Texas) and the shipping charges were over $100

    I bought 300 board feet and the shipping charges were over $200 delivered (but I couldn't schedule the home delivery so I picked it up, and couldn't get a credit on the home delivery fee)

    A full truckload (6000 to 8000 board feet) costs about $2 -3 per loaded mile - and your lumber yard probably gets the long haul portion by train for even less.

    For small quantities - no long boards, no package over 70 pounds, UPS rates are far lower... many lumber yards sell "UPS bundles" to take advantage of that low cost shipping.

    Initially I couldn't find any hardwood sources, but by asking around, I now know of 5 hardwood lumber yards in Austin or the immediate surrounding area. The yellow pages didn't help. I don't know why they are so hard to find, but my experience makes me believe that they probably exist in most locations. That doesn't mean that "mail order" is never appropriate.

  7. #7

    Yea it seems like they would try and make it easy to find local dealers. But that has not been the case for me.

    The only time I have ordered by mail was when I made a direct order for 200bf of Wenge from a importer. I asked for business delivery as I worked nights and was always home and could pull the wood off by piece. That and gave the guy $10 and a drink for helping me unload and seperate it.

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