Getting oak in the UK

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  • #8498
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    There are a quite a few of us on here who are in the UK and feeling more than a little upset about the price and availability of timber. It’s a problem we need to solve, or we’ll be building furniture from softwoods from the builders yard, or worse still, not building any furniture at all.

    Paul blogged recently about getting bargains by buying oak by the pallet. The only downside to this idea is that you need a few hundred quid up front, somewhere with suitable access for the delivery truck, and somewhere suitable to store 10′ long, potentially very wide boards. In a few weeks time, I’ll have two out of the three (access and storage). I’m building an office/workshop in my garden, which will be 5x3m (16x10ft) and have a timber rack on one long wall, with double doors toward the back of the garden which opens up onto the street behind.

    If I were to buy a pallet of kiln dried oak boards, would there be people on here willing to buy them from me? I’d resell them only to recoup the cost of the timber and delivery, so if 10 cu ft cost £400 delivered and you wanted to buy 1 cu ft (12 board feet), the cost to you would be £40 if you wanted to come pick it up from mine (I live in Market Harborough). If you couldn’t pick it up yourself, you’d have to arrange a courier at your cost but hopefully it’d still be affordable with the reduced timber price.

    If you want some rough numbers to do some comparisons, let’s assume buying 10cu ft (120 board feet) for £400 delivered. That’s £3.33 per board foot. A good price for oak here is £9/m for a 6″ wide 1″ thick board, which works out at £5.48 per board foot (assuming a 12″ wide board is £18/m, which isn’t true – it’d be more). The coffee table needs 16 board feet for everything except the legs (with a bit extra), so would cost £87.78 or £53.88. A saving of almost £35 aint bad – although someone should probably double-check my numbers!

    I just want to see if anyone’s interested. As I mentioned, the man-house won’t be complete for at least a few weeks yet. The foundation went down on Sunday and I can only do building at weekends, and free ones are few and far between! There’s also still the issue of how I’d unload a pallet of oak from a truck without a forklift but I’d figure that one out (engine crane or even by hand if it’s 10 or 15 boards). It’d likely be too late for the coffee table but if you’re still interested, leave a reply here and we can try working something out for the future.

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #8501
    Ken
    Participant

    George,

    That is a great Idea buddy, and just shows what a great bunch of people we have on here. Ok these are the questions I have been asking my self. At this stage do I need, or have room for another coffee table. Do I want to spend so much money, and have so much faff to build one out of oak.

    I can’t really say yes to any of them. I will still follow paul making this with great interest as I do with all his projects. I think I need make only the projects That I really want to make or need, or any I get asked to make, as in make to sell.

    Once again I think your Idea is great, and I do hope other uk members take you up on your offer.

    Ken 😉

    #8508
    Scott
    Participant

    George – I wish you were in Los Angeles… I’m always looking to save on wood. I have a small garage shop here, but I always have room to store wood. At any rate, it looks like your discounted wood pricing (around US $5 per BF for white oak) is similar to the prices I see here. I may have a place where I can get it lower, probably around US $4 per BF.

    -Scott Los Angeles

    #8823
    Simon
    Participant

    Hi George, I’d definitely be interested at some time in the future, I’m just up the road near Stamford 🙂 So its wouldn’t be too far of a drive. I’m kind of only really just starting out learning how to work wood so I feel I need to invest time working with cheaper wood for a while, make my mistakes with pine first! Although in the future It would be great to buy wood like this.

     

    Great idea.

    DaddyChief.com - Welcome to my randomly scatty brain....

    #8824
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    @daddychief

    All good. I’m in the same boat – I’ll be making the coffee table from redwood so the mistakes I’ll make are less expensive. I’ll put a note on here in a few weeks or so, once I’ve got storage sorted. If enough people are interested so I can recoup the money fairly quickly, I’ll go ahead and put an order in and we can go from there.

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #8875
    David Gill
    Participant

    Hi George

    Did you complete the cost of the materials to make the project table, I thought it may be of interest , I have just costed up at a local timer merchant to provide  the Oak planned up to finished size as per Paul’s cutting list and it works out including Vat to £108,74.

    I think if I was to make the table and to make it out of oak that would be the way I would go I do not feel inclined to be sawing and planing up rough sawn timber

    I am sure the guys in the states will be able to buy their material significantly cheaper

    Wigan, Lancs. England :

    #8880
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    @daveg

    Yes, but I can’t include the legs in the costings because they’re from much thicker stock. With the details I put in the first post, if 120 board feet cost £400, as the coffee table needs 16 board feet for everything except the legs, oak for the coffee table would be £53.33. You’d have to find somewhere else to get timber for the legs. You could laminate the legs from the 1″ stock but they make look very odd on the finished table.

    Milling the components from those boards wouldn’t take too long and would be good practice, as well as good exercise, but isn’t for everybody. It’s a lot cheaper in money but more expensive in time – the choice is a very personal one.

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #8881
    David Gill
    Participant

    Hi George

    Thanks for that price for the legs was £35.62 I have a breakdown for each of the various sizes

    Wigan, Lancs. England :

    #11842
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    Just a small update…

    Things have been chaotic to say the least but this is now much closer to fruition! The new shop is almost ready. Just waiting for my wife to make the curtains (fabric arrived yesterday) before I can move my desk and computer in, but the shop end is in use already, albeit very occasionally due to work commitments and other house projects getting out of hand (when removing tiles from a bathroom wall, don’t drop them in the tub – it’ll leak afterward and need replacing!).

    I won’t have as much room for timber as I thought because I can’t put anything heavy on the walls, so a rack is out of the question, and the roof isn’t very high at the edges of the shop (only about 6’6″). I think I’ll end up sawing down pieces to 6′ or so and put them on their end propped up against the wall.

    I have also bought a band saw and dust extractor, which I’m picking up tomorrow. I did this because it really opens up more avenues for sourcing timber. I can get air-dried 4″ thick stock and resaw it down to the required thickness. The band saw has 18″ wheels, a 2HP motor, ability to take a 1″ wide blade, and a 12.5″ max depth of cut, so should be plenty powerful and big enough to resaw 8″ wide oak.

    It’s also green, so will match the new curtains. That’s how I’m selling it to my wife!

    I’ve found a potential local supplier of air-dried oak beams. Once the band saw is in, set up and tested, I’ll order a beam, do some test cuts, and see what the quality is like. Hopefully it’ll be clear and stable enough for furniture projects.

    I’ll post again once I’ve done some tests on the wood and the saw.

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #11945
    Mark Armstrong
    Participant

    You should think about getting roller stand if you want to cut lengths more than 4 foot.

    Dagenham, Essex, England

    #12842
    Luke Harrison
    Participant

    Hi George,
    I’m just down the road in Blaby and I would be very interested in sharing the costs of some decent oak timber.
    It would also be great to hear if you have found any local timber merchants who are happy dealing with small orders.

    Luke.

    #12848
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    @lukeharrison

    I’ll be putting in an order for a big piece of oak next week so I’ll keep you updated. I’m still experimenting with blades on my bandsaw, trying to find the best for resawing, and I’ve got some other jobs to get done so it’ll be a week or two yet.

    I’ve still not found anywhere to get small quantities of hardwoods. I know a guy in Gilmorton who has a huge quantity of hardwoods – mostly oak, walnut and maple – but the dimensions are unpredictable (it’s all from house/farm clearances) and he can’t mill it. Once I’ve got my bandsaw tuned and singing perfectly I may go back to him to get some larger pieces and mill them at home.

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #12929
    Luke Harrison
    Participant

    Hi George, that’s really interesting to hear. Goodluck with the resawing, I’d like to hear how you get on, fingers crossed you can establish a good method to give you access to loads more timber.
    I’m off to saddington car boot tomorrow as it’s an excellent source of hand tools.

    #13438
    Justjoe
    Participant

    Hi George,

    I live in South Witham about 40 miles up from you. I’m just setting up a little workshop and I will be looking for cheap hard woods within the next month or so. I’d be interested in sharing costs. I’ll keep an eye on this post.

    Lincolnshire, England
    www.joesleightwoodworker.co.uk

    #13578
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    Well this is becoming a bit of an adventure!

    I picked up an 8×3″ beam on Friday. It was apparently air dried for at least a year but it’s still at around 40% moisture content in places. I couldn’t do anything with it until today and it’s already checked badly. It also isn’t the grade I was after and contains the pith, so the wastage is going to be phenomenal. I’ve managed to get the legs for the coffee table and enough breadboard ends for three boards and still have half the beam left. However, there’s little hope of getting decent lengths of clear 7/8″ timber. Whatever is cut from it has still got to dry, too.

    So, it’s back to the original plan if anyone’s still interested – buying big batches of kiln dried 1″ material.

    I think this is the cheapest place I’ve found for kiln dried oak and it’s only a 20 minute drive from where I live so it’d save at least £40 on delivery (or £80 on a pallet delivery from another supplier). Have a look and if anyone wants in on an order, post here or send me a PM with how many boards you’re after, even if it’s only one or two:
    http://www.uk-oak.co.uk/product/Top_Quality_Qf1_Kiln_Dried_Oak_Board

    Due to the minimum order quantity, it makes the most sense to go for the 250+mm wide boards, up to 2m length (else they won’t fit in my car!). I’m happy to place the order, pick everything up and hold it until you can collect it or arrange a courier.

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

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