Lumber can be extremely expensive. In fact, after purchasing all of your tools and equipment, lumber is the most expensive part of woodworking. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars on exotic hardwoods or projects that require a lot of lumber. Spending this kind of money, especially as a beginner where mistakes are bound to happen, is something you want to avoid. The truth is, you don’t need to spend much money on lumber at all. In fact, many times you can get lumber for completely free if you know a few of the tips I’m about to share with you. Keep reading if you’re interested in saving money on your future woodworking projects!
If you’re just getting into woodworking and you’re tight on cash, the thought of spending $300 in materials for your woodworking project can be a huge turn off. Especially with the risk of not knowing what you’re doing; mistakes are bound to occur. This is why finding cheap or free lumber is a great idea to get you started in woodwork. The first and most common way of doing this is Craigslist. Craigslist is a goldmine for inexpensive or free lumber. I highly recommend making a Craigslist account if you don’t already have one so you can get search notifications. Basically, whenever someone makes a post related to your search, you will get an email notification. This will give you dibs on some of the free lumber people give away.
To apply search notifications, simply Sign up for Craigslist, search for your keyword (ie. free lumber) and hit “save search” at the top right corner of the screen [see image below]. As soon as someone makes a post with the keyword “free lumber”, you will instantly be notified. You’d be surprised how many people give away free or cheap lumber.
Another great way to get cheap lumber is to find items that are already built from lumber. Go to your local salvation army or goodwill and look for old pieces of furniture. Many of them have great lumber that you can recycle into something great. Many times, these pieces of furniture can be as cheap as $10-$15 and contain lumber much more valuable than the furniture piece itself.
I’ve also found great quality lumber from people’s yards when they throw out their old furniture. You can use Craigslist to your advantage when using this strategy. Simply search for something such as “free furniture” and hit “save search” so you’ll get notified every time someone posts free furniture. A lot of people in my area will toss their old desks or broken furniture in their yard and then post it on Craigslist so someone will pick it up and get it out of their way.
Last year I made it my mission to make an entire woodworking project using free lumber I found on the side of the road. It took a couple weeks of searching Craigslist and driving around neighborhoods like a weirdo, but I was able to come up with enough lumber to make an awesome table for a friend. It probably would have cost me $100-200 to simply go out and buy the lumber from Home Depot. Not only does it feel awesome to save money, it feels even better to recycle something old into something fresh and unique!
Letgo is an app that is great for finding free lumber for woodworking. It’s very similar to Craigslist because people post old things they want to sell or give away. Simply Download the Letgo app, make an account, and search for terms such as “wood”, “lumber” or “old furniture”. You can even set a filter, so you’ll only see results that are free! Just the other day I searched for free lumber on Letgo and I found 10+ people giving away free wood. This is a really great app that I highly suggest you take advantage of if you’re trying to save money on your woodworking projects. If you’re in a small city or you can’t find anybody giving away free lumber at the time, simply click the green button at the top to enable search notifications so you will be notified when someone does post free lumber!
One of the easiest ways to get free lumber for woodworking is to visit construction sites. They always have tons of scrap lumber and plywood pieces. Luckily, my dad works in construction so finding a construction site with a lot of free lumber was an easy task. However, construction is happening everywhere, whether it be businesses or new homes. Don’t be afraid to go up to the construction workers and ask for their lumber because the majority of the time they we’re going to burn it or throw it away anyways. You might be doing them a favor by clearing up their work site.
The last tip I have for finding free lumber for your woodworking projects is to seek pallets. Back when I was a teenager, I used to work at a popular bakery called Lulu’s. Every week we would get an oil shipment and a shortening shipment. Both shipments came on a large wood pallet that they would place in the back of our bakery. Rather than recycling these pallets or giving them away, we just trashed them. There are tons of small businesses that do the same thing. Simply call around to places such as nurseries, automotive centers, or even small restaurants and ask them to donate their pallets every week. I’ve made several different contacts and saved a lot of money on materials with this method.
Finding inexpensive or free lumber for your woodworking projects may seem like an impossible task, but there are plenty of different ways to locate and recycle old or previously used lumber. Using a few of these tips can save you thousands of dollars over time. Woodworking doesn’t have to be as expensive as people make it out to be. Just by doing a little searching and making a few good contacts can allow you to make some awesome woodworking projects without breaking the bank!