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Aug 03, 2022

​Tips for Buying Wood From a Sawmill

Tags: Circle Sawn Lumber, How To, Lumber Process

If you work with wood products frequently, you may have thought about purchasing lumber directly from a sawmill. While there are many advantages to buying wood straight from a mill, it can be a little intimidating the first time you do it. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you feel confident buying wood from a sawmill for the first time.

Why Purchase from a Sawmill

Purchasing your lumber from a sawmill may sound intimidating, but there are many benefits to buying your wood directly from the source. Not only does purchasing directly from the mill help keep prices low, but it can also be a more sustainable option than when you buy material from a big box store. When you purchase from a sawmill, there's a big chance your salesperson will have a general idea of where the logs came from and how they were harvested. Knowing where your materials come from is essential for being a responsible consumer of this sustainable, renewable building material.


When you contact a sawmill, the first thing you should know is the dimensions of the lumber you need. Whether you're looking for timbers, lumber, siding, or flooring, we will need to know what size material you have in mind.

When you purchase lumber, the order in which you say the dimensions matters. When you tell the salesperson what you're looking for, you should ask for the thickness in inches, the width in inches, and the length in feet. For example, if you need a piece that is 1-inch thick, 6-inches wide, and 8-feet long, you would ask for a 1 by 6 by 8. By following this rule, you can avoid any unnecessary confusion and ensure you're getting exactly what you need.

How Much Material Do You Need?

Knowing how much material you need for your project is a must. Most likely, your salesperson will be fluent in square foot, board foot, and linear foot calculations. Providing one of these units of measurement or a piece count to your salesperson should be enough to get them started. Just make sure you have some idea of what you need before stopping by.

Some sawmills have a minimum order quantity, so don't be surprised if you can't purchase only one or two boards at a time. It might be a good idea to call ahead and see if you can pick up lumber the same day or if you need to order a few days in advance.

Have an Idea of the Look You Like

It's important to know what you like and what the sawmill offers. Every mill is different, and some may offer more services than others. At Marks Lumber, we are a mid-sized sawmill specializing in circle sawn Douglas fir material. All the materials we sell are a rough sawn texture. While rough sawn lumber can be used in all the same applications as smooth material, it may not be the look you're after for every given project. If that's the case, you may have to search for another local supplier to fill your needs.

Be Prepared for Questions

At Marks Lumber, our qualified sales team wants to make sure you're getting the best material for your project. That's why the first question you hear from us is often something along the lines of "What are you using that for?" Basically, what the person wants to know is what grade of lumber will be best for your project.

Sawmills have multiple grades of material that have been carefully sorted to ensure you receive the best wood for your project. For example, a Select Grade piece will be more of an appearance grade, with minimal knots, wane, twist, or crook to them. This grade is often used for house applications, such as trim, trusses, furniture, or cabinetry. On the other hand, a #2 or #3 Grade piece is a more industrial style piece where knots, twist, and bow is allowed to some extent. These lower grades can be used for fencing, sidings on outbuildings, or landscaping applications.

Looking to start buying material directly from the source? Contact Marks Lumber today to learn more about product offerings and how we can help you with your next project.

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