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The wood or the project?

The wood or the project?
By Rob Johnstone, Editor: Woodworkers’ Journal

Which comes first? A woodworker asked fellow forum members if they buy the wood first and then figure out what they're going to make. Or vice-versa?

Several participants stated they usually bought for the project, but admitted they couldn't resist an incredible deal or were suckers for an interesting grain.

Admitting he was out of sync with the previous posts, a woodworker admitted to deliberately stockpiling. His horde included Baltic birch plywood (1/8" thru 3/4") for jigs, drawer bottoms, dividers, etc; red oak leg stock (1-3/4" x 1-3/4") kept on shelf, ready to chop to length; and an inventory of glued-up panels that have been thickness sanded. To crank out a table or two takes no time. He declared he'd rather have his money tied up in wood than seldom-used equipment. Other posters joined in to confess they kept lumber on hand, just in case inspiration hit them. One who falls into this camp reported that when someone asks him, "How much did that cost to build?" he can tell them the truth, nothing, and he didn't even have to go to the store!

One woodworker explained that he'd usually figure out what he'd make first, then decide what wood he'd use … unless he saw some wood at the store that put an idea in his head. Then he'd just stand there, looking at it and planning the project in his head. If people looked closely, he claimed, they could see he was building something in his head.

Finally, a woodworker explained the economic advantage of stockpiling. It used to drive him crazy to start a project and realize the wood he needed was half the price and readily available six months earlier. Since he began stockpiling, he'd never regretted it, and on a couple of occasions, it led to some great building ideas.

(c) 2002, Woodworkers Journal. All Rights Reserved.