Alternate Sources of Wood

The price of everying just keeps going up and up, including the price of materials for woodworking.  At the time of this writing, Red Oak is around $8.00 a board foot, not including freight. Even pine starts at $3.00 for narrow pieces, and goes up to $8.00 for wider pieces. Sheet goods like plywood, masonite and OSB, and even prices for MDF are going up, as more people use it in light of higher prices for plywood and OSB. 

Note: the trademark for masonite fiber board is dead, so that means 'masonite' does not have to be capitalized!   http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4807:hprlwq.2.36

One solution to fight high material prices is to look for wood in unexpected and different places.  Sometimes you can see wood furniture discarded on the curb or down an alley, or advertised for free on the internet.  Depending on your use, it may be to your advantage to even buy old furniture to be re-worked.  The assumption here of course is that you do not care to refinish the furniture you find -- you do not want to destroy a valuable antique just to make shelves to hold some old junk in the basement!

Take a look at the dresser and side table in the picture below. If the drawers are made of solid wood, there is lots of wood available.  The small table could also be knocked down, and the upper and lower panels of wood re-used.  The turned legs could also be re-used, or cut down into finials or knobs.

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Now take a look at the drawer below. Depending on the size of the drawers you find, there could be some long pieces of wood for the back sides, and the sides.  The bottom is usually made of hardboard, or even thin hardwood veneer plywood (for better quality drawers).  Drawer sides are usually 1/2 inch thick hard wood or plywood, so if you need thin material for a project, you may not need a surface planer, and the wood is usually already well sanded.  Some really cheap/low quality drawers are made of MDF, but it is rare.  Since MDF falls apart so easily, manufacturers will use at least plywood because drawers get lots of use and the furniture companies don't want to deal with angry customers if drawers fall apart before the product warranty expires.

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Wood futon frames.  The slates pieces are usually 3/4" X 36" or longer, depending on how the frame is made. Cheaper frames are usually made of pine, but better ones are made of hardwood.  As with drawer sides, the wood is usually well sanded or even finished.  Take a look at the picture below for a typical futon frame:

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Larger tables: Kitchen or dining room tables are usually made from 3/4" solid wood or plywood.  With more furniture being imported, solid wood is usually now imported tropical wood, so you never know what you can find.  The table top can be cut down for re-use.  The aprons can be cut down for additional material, and the legs can even be cut down to eliminate the tapering to re-use the material, or cut into pieces of fire wood.

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