If midwest means Chicago, there used to be a place called Owl Lumber that I liked, but it has been at least a decade since I was last there. I would stay away from construction lumber for projects. It will be nothing but frustration, especially for someone learning. While some of it is okay (barely), it generally is hard growth rings separated by big fiat spongy material. That plus the knots makes it challenging to work, especially if you are still developing your sharpening skills.