Still a bit intimidated going to the Lumber Yard; Home Depot anyone?

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    Hey Guys,
    I’m starting on a Tool Chest and don’t know where to go. I’m pretty intimidated to go to the lumber yard; I think they can smell a newb a mile away. So, I’m stuck with a Big Box. Anyone in the US, or anywhere else for that matter, buy wood at a Big Box? What type do you buy? I don’t know the difference between “Whitewood,” “Appearence” boards, or Commonboards.

    Any advise will be appreciated.


    Cheers from New York City!
    ~~ Spurs forever; forever Spurs ~~

    Derek Long

    No shame buying at the big box for your pine, poplar etc. You just have to sort through it and know you’re getting mystery “whitewood” which is fir, spruce pine mix.

    The “common boards” are just lower grade than selects and are usually knottier and have more dimensional flaws (cupped, bowed, twisted, not exactly square). The select pine is clear(er) dimensioned, and usually not as twisted up.

    For boards, I will buy the select of the selects if they have a dimension close to what I need. Most of the wider boards will be commons, though. I’ve had good enough luck with commons for utilitarian projects. You just have to spend some time sighting the boards. I look down the lengths of the boards, use the floor as a rough straight-edge, and grab a square from the tool section to try to find the best of the bunch.

    Good luck in your hunt!

    Derek Long
    Denver, Colorado

    David Perrott

    I find Lowes to have better wood. Their boards are eastern white pine. I think the “Wood Whisperer” did a video about going to the lumber yard. Check out Board and Beams in NJ. Basically you can go and pick the stuff out your self. Then just try to find someone to ring you up.


    I wouldn’t shy away from a lumber yard. The ones we have here in western NY have staff that are very knowledgeable and helpful. Tell them what you want to do and they will spend time with you.

    But if you are just looking for pine then the Big Box stores are less expensive.

    Located in Honeoye Falls NY USA. The Finger Lakes region of Western NY.

    "If you give me 6 hours to fell a tree, I will take the first 4 to sharpen my axe" Abe Lincoln

    Matt McGrane

    I agree with those above. You can get some nice pine boards at a Big Box. A few months ago I got a very nice, very clear, pine board that I used for the wall clock.

    Having said that, don’t be afraid to go to the lumber yard. You won’t get over that worry about being taken until you go there several times. Just like learning to saw properly – need to do it many times to get comfortable with it. I know that many people strike up a personal relationship with the lumber people and that might make it more comfortable. Personally, I don’t get to these place enough to have a one-on-one relationship, but I trust my “BS” instincts when deciding if someone is trying to help me or solely trying to profit from me.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016:

    Joe Kaiser

    It is helps, for me it was very awkward going to the lumber yard for the first time. I just explained to the guy I was getting into woodworking and was looking for pine for a few small projects. He showed me where it was and was patient as I didn’t really know what I was doing.

    The second time was less awkward but I was still intimidated,

    By the 4th time, I felt more comfortable going there than to Lowes. I suggest you go even if it is just to check it out. Don’t feel obligated to buy something. Sometimes just having been to the place and seeing it can help relieve that weird feeling.

    Seattle, WA


    Wow! I am very grateful for the responses and words of encouragement.

    Thanks for the great advise and tremendous support. I’m going to buy the Pine for the Tool Chest at HD but go to the lumber yard for the “good” stuff as I get more confident in my projects.

    Cheers to my fellow Lifestyle Woodworkers! Here’s to always having a sharp blade and never needing a dustmask or earplugs in the woodshop.

    Much thanks,


    Cheers from New York City!
    ~~ Spurs forever; forever Spurs ~~


    The Big Box HD is the only sourse close to where I live and since finding Paul a couple years back i have a greater appreciation for their Lumber. You migh spend some time sorting through the stacks but usually you can find something. I agree I believe Lowes Lumder is a bit better but it is not real close to where I live and a true Lumber Yard forget it nothing close. Woodcraft has some decent wood but the price’s are sky high also.


    Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US

    Matt Shacklady

    I’m new to woodworking so I’ve made one trip to a ‘real’ lumber yard (compared to HD). One major difference is that it’s harder to just browse. HD has everything nicely laid out and marked, and you don’t feel self-concious browsing. Not so much at the real lumber yard, this almost necessitates the need to talk to someone.
    I think the best way to overcome the ‘newb’ fear is to face it head on. Don’t try and pretend you know what you’re doing, you’ll only feel more fear of failure, any it will probably show clearly to the experienced people. Come right out and say to them ‘this is my first time here. I don’t know what I’m doing. Can you show me what I need and where to find it to build X’
    If you have a materials list they’ll easily be able to tell you what you need.

    I wonder if lumberyards had a special ‘newbie service’, or ‘newbie days’ whether they’d increase business by getting more people through the door who wouldn’t normally do it.

    For me, the price and quality options overcame my fear. HD is very limited in species they stock and their prices are double the lumberyard prices.
    I got what I went for on my first trip – it wasn’t a complete success, the guy cutting the wood either misheard me, or just didn’t listen and cut twice as much African mahogany as I wanted. I was too embarrassed to tell him about it after he had cut the wood so I just bought it. Worked out OK, because now I’m using it on other projects anyway. 🙂



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