5 Tips for Choosing Woodworking Materials while on a Tight Budget

There are many ways to get materials for woodworking projects even if you need to keep the expense low. Extra time spent choosing the right boards, sanding the finished project and staining or painting it in a professional-looking manner are just a few of the steps you can take that will make you proud to display your finished product.

Here are five tips that a craftsman can use to secure woodworking materials while on a tight budget. Follow the links to learn even more:

1. Paintable Grade Wood

Some woodworking materials have blemishes. The wood is perfectly fine but the end products will probably look better painted than stained. This wood is typically priced lower than its counterpart that has a beautiful face.

Interior molding is a good example of this two-tier pricing. Some molding has visible finger joints.  At the factory or mill, shorter pieces of pine molding are joined together to make one long length. This is done so no wood is wasted. When painted, these joints are not noticeable.

If your woodworking project involves interior molding that can be painted, be sure to call around to various lumber yards to see if they have finger-jointed pine molding available at a low price.

2. Swap and Barter for Woodworking Materials

Nearly every ardent woodworker collects wood he is not going to use. It is very common to buy a bit extra wood in case a cutting mistake is made or to allow for the testing of different stains. After a while, the extra wood is in the woodworker’s way.

By the same token, you may have something extra that you would like to get rid of to make more room in your workshop. Perhaps you upgraded a tool and the old one still have some life in it. Or maybe you have woodworking patterns that you no longer need.

Local newspapers often have a “For Sale or Trade” classified ad section. A short ad can reap big benefits. A reader may want to get rid of woodworking materials even if he doesn’t want what you offer in trade. Some people are just happy that the woodworking materials will be put to good use.

Online woodworking forums are great places to find people who would like to swap woodworking materials. Simply go to google.com, type “forum: woodworking” into the search box and start chatting about what you are looking for – at a low cost, of course.

3. Bring Out the Best in the Wood

By taking the time to learn the best finishing techniques, a woodworker can enhance the beauty of a piece of wood, thereby taking an inexpensive piece and making it look richer.

There are several steps to giving wood a professional-looking finish, starting with sanding the project. Hand sanding is usually the best option during the finishing process. It may take time but you are investing time rather than spending money for more expensive wood.

Using scraps of the wood you used for the project, finish several pieces in different ways to test techniques and stains. After each sanding session, use a tack cloth to properly remove all dust particles, which would cause the finish to be rough rather than glassy smooth. You never want to use a damp cloth to remove the dust because the moisture in the rag can cause the grain to rise, leaving you with a surface that needs sanding again.

When you first get a pine board, apply a coat of sanding sealer to prevent it from absorbing moisture, which will cause it to warp or cup. Pine is one of the least expensive woods to buy, so keeping it in good shape will allow you to have a nicer finished product.

Before staining, use a sanding sealer to prevent the stain from blotching. Without a sanding sealer, the softer areas of the wood will soak up more stain than the harder areas, leaving an uneven and amateurish staining job. Practice on several scraps, taking notes about how you treated each piece. When you achieve the look you like, you will know exactly how you accomplished it.

4. Know the Wood That is Produced in Your Area of the Country

Often, a wood that is milled and prepared locally can be purchased relatively cheaply. Use the internet and call lumberyards to determine if such a wood exists in your area and where is it sold inexpensively.

Lumber mills are good place to visit to see what they are offering. Remember though that wood must cure or be kiln dried before being used in most woodworking projects. Otherwise, it will shrink and warp as it dries.

Determine if there is a carving or woodworking club in your town. These are the people who appreciate good wood and know its characteristics well. They will be a wealth of knowledge about where wood can be purchased at a good price.

5. Cabinet Door Project Using Inexpensive Woodworking Materials

This video is full of ideas about woodworking on a budget. In this case, the carpenter built a cabinet door for a rental property. Any woodworker on a tight budget could create similar doors for his own home. At the time of the filming, the door materials cost him only $10.

Check more of our DIY project ideas here.

He started by visiting a lumberyard that offered seconds. He found a piece of wainscoting that looked pretty scuffed up. However, the finished product looks amazing due to the woodworker’s vision and skill.

The door trim is an inexpensive pine board. The knobs are simple and easy to find at any hardware store. The jig he uses to place the knobs uniformly could be made out of the corner of a cereal box. The same could be done for the placement of the hinges.

There is satisfaction in making a wood product with your hands. If you produce a good-looking and practical item, there will be years of use and pride in knowing that you made it on a tight budget.

1 thought on “5 Tips for Choosing Woodworking Materials while on a Tight Budget”

  1. My father is looking forward to building a tree house for my kids. Since he’ll be needing a lot of materials, he’s hoping to find high-quality lumber yard. Given our tight budget, I am glad I’ve read your article on how to choose the best woodworking materials. I’ll take note of your tip to cure or be kiln dry the wood before using in projects, so it wouldn’t shrink.


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