Apr 032019
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No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.”

I know I’m not the only cheap woodworker around. Alan Noel is a self-avowed cheapskate.

That means we go to the big chains, blue or orange, when we need lumber that doesn’t have to be special. Or straight. Or pretty.

However, there are times we just have to put the price behind us and go to a real lumber yard where we can get good lumber, exotics and specialty items.

You might call them your “hardwood dealer,” although such places often have pine and cedar and cypress, even plywood, as well. Usually the material isn’t dimensional, rather, it’s “random widths and lengths, one
edge straight.”

I find such trips to be inspiring. Of course, I’m usually already a little inspired because I’m there to buy some special wood for a special project, often for a special person.

Walking among the boards of white oak, red oak, walnut, cherry, quartersawn pine, ipe, and all the others just makes one’s imagination go wild.

Need some inspiration? Take a trip down to your hardwood dealer or real, old-timey lumber yard. Walk through the stacks and be inspired.

And, stay away from the wrong kind of lumber yard. Years ago several of us made a trip to Belize for fishing and exploring Mayan ruins. Eating was a bit of a challenge because we wanted to avoid Montezuma’s Revenge. At first, I was drinking iced tea because it had been boiled. Or Coca Cola because it was sterile. Or American beer because I assumed it had been bottled in the States. Then, it occurred to me, “All beer is sterile, even local beer made with local water.” American beer was “imported,” and I was paying a premium for it. Local beer was cheaper, and perfectly safe. Perfect combination for a cheapskate.

We felt safe eating at the hotel. One day we got brave enough to stroll down the street near the hotel and found a lumber yard. Well, actually, a Lumbaa Yaaad, as the locals would say it. But, this lumber yard no longer sold wood. It had been converted to a food and drink establishment. While we were feeling brave we decided to go in and eat and drink. I Googled “Lumbaa Yaaad” + “Belize City,” and some variations, and the only hits I got were domestic, one a bar in Seattle and one an actual lumber yard. It seems our one-time watering hole no longer exists.

Need some cheap inspiration? Visit your local or nearby fine wood dealer.

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

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