Well, as an experiment I ordered some expensive hardwood boards from a big box store, to be delivered to my house.
I knew that this was a risk- after all, choosing planks that are considerably more expensive than #2 pine boards at Home Depot means getting value for your money- all wood has imperfections, and given the subjective nature of what you might turn a given board into, finding boards that you can work with requires they be hand-selected.
So I tried paying a premium for a small amount of S4S (sanded on all four sides) pre- dimensioned wood in walnut and rock maple. It was delivered to my house, and only about 75% of it was usable. Voids, checks, knots... all the things that you don't want.
While I was running around, I stopped at a custom woodworking shop in my area- these guys custom make molding and joinery for the old-money billionaires in Palm Beach. Talking with the manager, a young guy who I immediately took to, he showed me custom molding and cove-cutting blades made to match century-old crown molding in a mansion- a service they offer at $20/inch. They were cutting 260 feet of mahogany boards for someone's ballroom.
Although it turns out the shop isn't set up for selling direct to the public, they were willing and able to sell me rough-cut hardwood boards in small or moderate quantities. I bought several LARGE rock maple and walnut boards- about 8x the quantity I got from the big box store, and the grain was exactly what I wanted, and the quality was near-flawless- and it still cost me less. Given the disparity of prices, and the shop's willingness to support local amateurs like me, I bought a planer yesterday to mill the boards down to size for the little projects I have in mind. The scrap from this I'll also try to use. Cutting boards, little boxes, salt cellars and the like.
Unfortunately, I'm running out of days at home. I'll be back to work after the weekend.
I also finished the hull of my latest little boat and have starting fairing it. More on that later.
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