Using wood from the home improvement store is one way that you can find wood to use as a new woodworker. This is one if my 15 Great Places to Get Woodworking Wood, and for most of you, this is where you will start your journey as a woodworker.
Wood From the Home Improvement Store
Most of you have a home improvement store in your town, or close to it. These are the huge mega home stores that sell everything from plungers to weed killer. They also sell wood, and they are often times the first source of wood for a new woodworker.
The reason that new woodworkers go to home improvement stores first is familiarity. Odds are that you have been in those stores before, for different reasons. You know where it is, and it’s easy to get around.
While there are a lot more places to find wood for your woodworking projects, the home improvement store is actually a good place to start for a few reasons. Here is why…
Pine Is Inexpensive and Abundant
In the beginning, one of the best species that you can use is Pine. This is a great species, because it is soft, easy to work, abundant, and inexpensive. You can’t go wrong as a new woodworker by using Pine to practice with.
Pine is a very common wood in America, but may not be as common in other places around the world. If you are not in American, there is surely another species that is common, soft, and easy to work in your area. You just need to look for it.
Home improvement stores carry a lot of Pine, which is sold in rough form for building structures and finer form for building woodworking projects. What you need depends on what kind of woodworking you are doing.
The Choices are Few
It’s odd to think that less choice is a good thing, but in the beginning it definitely is. As a new woodworker, you are already going to have to think quite a bit. Less thinking will help you, and less choices means less thinking.
Home improvement stores tend to carry Pine, Poplar, and Oak. Some add in Maple, but most of them only carry the three. This makes the choice very easy. Simply pick out the species that makes you happy, and that will be a good fit for your project.
Some projects do not really benefit from one species over another with the exception of the look, so in a case like that you can grab anything you like. In other cases, knowing a little about what the project requires can help you choose the best of the three.
Differences in three Kinds of Wood
The three species that the big home improvement stores stock cover a wide range of densities and work-ability. This is great for you, because you have an easy choice, and a strong enough range to cover all the basics.
Pine is very soft, and not as strong as Poplar. Poplar is down the middle, strong, but easier to work than Oak. Oak is heavy and strong, but can take a little more time to work well, and requires filling in order to get a smooth finish.
Due to the simple three choices that are offered, and the wide range of differences in the wood, you have a nice range of species but nothing overwhelming. In the beginning, the less you have to worry about things, the better.
Pallets from the Home Improvement Store
I wrote a very long post on Woodworking with Pallets that teaches you where to find them, and what you can do with them. The same store that you go to for your wood can also end up being a source for pallets.
Pallets are essentially free wood. You have to do some work for it, and you have to haul them home, but the result is free building materials. This can be a big money saver in the beginning, especially when you are already spending money on getting your tools.
Read the article and you will have a lot of great tips on woodworking with pallets. Who knows, you might end up picking up a few of them when you are in the store buying some wood for your next project.
Seeing What You are Buying
Another advantage of buying wood from a home improvement store is seeing what you are buying before you buy it. This is where the physical store still has an advantage over the internet. You just can’t touch something on the internet.
Buying wood is as much a feeling exercise as a practical exercise. Holding the pieces of wood can tell you a lot about the board. The weight, the quality, and the cut all play a role in whether or not you buy the board.
When you are in the store, even though there is not a huge selection, you get to make more of a selection than when buying online. In person, you can look through several boards and pick out the one that makes you the happiest, and that’s never a bad thing.
Wood from the Home Store Wrap-Up
In the beginning, do not feel bad about getting wood from the home improvement store to use for your woodworking. Many seasoned woodworkers still buy wood from them, and they make a lot of great projects.
The choices are smaller, but that is a good thing for a new woodworker. In the beginning, there are already a lot of things that you have to think about. Having to decide between three species instead of thirty makes it that much easier to get your project started.
Start with Pine for your first few projects, especially if you are an absolute beginner. Pine gives you a much easier experience at first, and you can learn some technique on a more forgiving species. After that, it will be easier to tackle some of the harder woods.
Your Homework Assignment
If you have not been in a home improvement store and looked through their wood section in a while, then do so. They are starting to carry more wood than ever before, and you might find that you don’t need to travel as far for some of your projects.
Check out the different types of specialty wood they have too. These stores carry appliques, spindles, molding, and lots of other interesting items that can help you one day when you need them.
The wood can be a little expensive in the beginning, but if you don’t have the tools to mill the pieces, you need to buy wood that is already milled. The trade off is not needing the tools, but paying a little more for the wood.
For more on tools, look at What Tools You Need to Start Woodworking for a good way to get yourself going without accidentally wasting your money.
Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks
My Beginners Guide to Woodworking is a great place to start, and can help you become a better woodworker faster.
You can the rest on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.
You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.