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Thread: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

  1. #1
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    Default Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Hey boat builders...

    I am reeling from the prices of cedar at the big box stores these days. I built my kayak turned trimaran sailboat in the last 2 years and I was buying cedar 2x4's at Lowes and Home Depot for $9 or less. Now they are more than double that.

    I saw a few suggestions for lumber sources in this thread; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...ite-cedar-pine
    But some of the price quotes plus shipping that I got from them were almost as bad as the big boxes. I emailed a local source over in Atlanta ( I am in Augusta, GA, aka CSRA) and here is the response I got when I told him his prices were out of my range and asked about price breaks if I ordered in bulk: "There might be some break in cost in units, but not anything significant. During Covid, the Canadians put a tariff on all wood products coming into the US. The tariff on top of sky rocketing prices has caused a large increase in cost. One cedar mill closed, the 2nd largest in the world, and that hasn’t helped. No significant relieve in sight. Let me know if we can help" - Greg Couch from Metro Building Products.

    I think he meant to say President Biden doubled the tariffs on Canadian imported wood. Cause that's what happened according to several articles I have read (https://www.enr.com/articles/53119-u...-higher-prices).

    So, with all that said, I wanted to see what other options I have for a building material. SPF lumber is finally coming back down to sort of pre-covid prices, but I don't think the weight is as light as the cedar. From what I have read, some cedar can be about 1/3 the weight of most other species given the same moisture content. I know cedar is in the cypress family, but I don't know of anybody that sells cypress lumber. According to this website: https://www.builderscalculator.com/l...ht-calculator/, SPF(Spruce-pine-fir) is only about 14% heavier than cedar. BUT- cedar has much better rot and insect resistance. Cedar is also much easier to bend and work with based on my limited experience building my kayak-trimaran sailboat (search for my posts and you will find it).

    Would anybody kick me out of the good ole boy's club if I built a strip planked trimaran made of SPF 2x4's bought from the big box stores? Don't know if that is a faux pas or not, but I would much rather have cedar. I like the strip plank method best, so I shy away from plywood. It doesn't seem to be cheaper anyway.

    With all the knowledge in these forums, I would like to ask you guys to chime in with any lumber sources you may know of in the south east USA, or any lumber sources across the USA with reasonable shipping that would make it worth my while. Also, what suitable lightweight substitutes you would recommend for cedar, and where would I find the substitutes?

    Thanks in advance guys, the Wooden Boat Forum has already helped me tremendously and I sincerely appreciate it.
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
    “You’re never beaten until you admit it.”
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee.007 View Post
    Would anybody kick me out of the good ole boy's club if I built a strip planked trimaran made of SPF 2x4's bought from the big box stores? Don't know if that is a faux pas or not, but I would much rather have cedar. I like the strip plank method best, so I shy away from plywood. It doesn't seem to be cheaper anyway.
    A. It's not any kind of "good ole boys" club. Do what you want--you don't need anyone's approval.

    B. If you can pick through the piles and find clear stock, your plan would be fine.

    C. Are you talking about a "strip-built" boat? (i.e. 1/4" strips covered with glass inside and out) or a "strip-planked" boat? (i.e. 1/2" or so strips, often edge-nailed as well as glued, with no structural glass)

    I built a strip-planked boat (edge-nailed, glued, no structural glass) from select grade radiata pine from a local big-box store. Long clear boards, no knots whatsoever. A pleasure to work with, though the growth rings are wide and it's not super rot-resistant (my boat lives on a trailer so that's been fine). It cost about $400 total 10 years ago, and I doubt it's all that much heavier than cedar.

    Tom
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    First, my apologies if I repeat stuff you know.

    SPF is spruce/pine/fir. Around here it is generally spruce, very light in colour and little grain definition, and fir has more colour and defined grain so is easily identified, I'm not so sure about pine as I see less of it, but I think it would fall in between the others both in colour and grain. Spruce is strong and light and straight grained, is not rot resistant like cedar but if you are sheathing it in glass and epoxy and water is kept out that should be okay. David Hazen, in his 1970s book on strip canoes, mentioned spruce and suggested it was suitable for canoes, so it should be okay for a trimaran. (I've only made spars and oars out of it.)

    The clearest planks are usually the bigger ones, 2x10s and so on, perhaps because it takes a bigger log to get out a 2x10 compared to a 2x4, leading to fewer and smaller knots. It takes some picking through the pile(s) to get the good ones, but they often show up near each other. The newer the bundle, the better your chances as it won't have been picked over as much. Good luck!

    Jamie

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    ^^^
    This,but to be clear,the fir is not Douglas fir and the pine is not white pine.
    You can google SPF for all of the species included in the group,none of which are classed as rot resistant.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    There are a number of places selling cypress all over the southeast. Google 'cypress lumber'. You need to tap into sawmill-type places, not big box stores. Lumber Connection in Walhalla, SC used to get some cypress in.

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    ^^^Cypress mo betta !!!

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Cypress is much more better.

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    why not just by atlantic white cedar at a small local sawmill.... you are gonna find that price hasn't changed much.
    There is a joy in madness, that only mad men know. -Nieztsche

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thad Van Gilder View Post
    why not just by atlantic white cedar at a small local sawmill.... you are gonna find that price hasn't changed much.

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Cuz red cedar grows all over Georgia, white cedar doesnt...

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    A. It's not any kind of "good ole boys" club. Do what you want--you don't need anyone's approval.
    Yeah, I know, just a figure of speech. I think cedar is much nicer to finish in bright instead of painted, but then again I have only built one boat, and it wasn't SPF. I think somebody on here said its really hard to build an ugly wooden boat, but I have seen mostly cedar cause I started from the kayak and canoe mindset.

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    B. If you can pick through the piles and find clear stock, your plan would be fine.
    Agreed. My son works at Lowes now, so he can keep an eye out for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    C. Are you talking about a "strip-built" boat? (i.e. 1/4" strips covered with glass inside and out) or a "strip-planked" boat? (i.e. 1/2" or so strips, often edge-nailed as well as glued, with no structural glass)
    Oh, yes, strip built. Not planked. My next boat is going to be a slingshot 19, and the one after that will be a Seaclipper 20... I am already planning for my military retirement money spending!

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    I built a strip-planked boat (edge-nailed, glued, no structural glass) from select grade radiata pine from a local big-box store. Long clear boards, no knots whatsoever. A pleasure to work with, though the growth rings are wide and it's not super rot-resistant (my boat lives on a trailer so that's been fine). It cost about $400 total 10 years ago, and I doubt it's all that much heavier than cedar.
    My boat also lives on a trailer. I didn't think of the rot resistance that way. Good advice, thanks!
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
    “You’re never beaten until you admit it.”
    - General George Smith Patton

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Well, I called around a few saw mills in the south east that I found searching thru google for cypress. Most prices I got were the same as cedar. One guy actually told me he was almost out of cypress logs, and didn't see the price of cypress coming down ever. They may have been trying to swindle me, but whatever. I'll keep looking. Its good to know I won't be the first person that made a boat from the SPF stuff if I end up going that way.
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
    “You’re never beaten until you admit it.”
    - General George Smith Patton

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Talk to Homestead Hardwoods in Vickery, Ohio.
    Great place to buy from.

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Try yellow poplar, should be cheap and available. Density is 29lbs/ft3, not a huge increase from WRC at 23lbs/ft3. You can stain it anyway you like and the durability is not a problem.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    I got some cypress from a sawmill in Baxby Ga. about 2 years ago or so. I forget his name. Baxby is a real small place. you can find him I’m sure.

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    For wood strip/fiberglass construction spruce works just fine. Personally, I prefer it to cedar as it's a bit tougher. Both these are Sitka spruce with either redwood or mahogany for the dark stripes.

    18'-Micmac-drawing.jpg

    nanaimo (2).jpg

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    For wood strip/fiberglass construction spruce works just fine. Personally, I prefer it to cedar as it's a bit tougher. Both these are Sitka spruce with either redwood or mahogany for the dark stripes.
    Sweet boats Todd! Yeah, I think my plan B is to build the Slingshot 19 with Cedar and spruce. I want to make the decks out of cedar strips with a slick herring bone patter or something, obviously reinforced underneath where necessary, and just keep on stripping the cedar down from the gunwales until I run out of cedar. Then I will continue where I left off with the spruce / pine / fir. I saw some pretty decent lumber at lowes the other day in the SPF piles. I think if I pick out the ones that are most white, that is the spruce, right? Oh, and did you notice a big difference in weight compared to cedar?
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
    “You’re never beaten until you admit it.”
    - General George Smith Patton

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arlc View Post
    I got some cypress from a sawmill in Baxby Ga. about 2 years ago or so. I forget his name. Baxby is a real small place. you can find him I’m sure.
    My Google Maps coudn't find Baxby Ga. Whats the nearest larger town to Baxby??
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
    “You’re never beaten until you admit it.”
    - General George Smith Patton

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rumars View Post
    Try yellow poplar, should be cheap and available. Density is 29lbs/ft3, not a huge increase from WRC at 23lbs/ft3. You can stain it anyway you like and the durability is not a problem.
    It is available, but it sure ain't cheap. $32 for a 1" x 6" x 8 foot at lowes. I'd be better off paying the cedar prices.
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
    “You’re never beaten until you admit it.”
    - General George Smith Patton

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    You'd be much better off not buying poplar at Lowes.
    Our wholesale price is less than 1/2 that in thin CDN $, including trucking from Somewhere,USA and delivery to our shop.
    Clear Western Red Cedar,on the other hand,is bumping off of $14/ bd.ft
    R
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    It’s baxley, ga
    There are no larger towns nearby.

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Buying the finely finished lumber from the little racks at Lowes/Depot is daft.
    One must keep checking the lumber that passes through for joists and fencing ,collect them ,and save them up. Multiple trips over time.
    ya can't just pop in and grab boat timber
    I tend to spend more on painting boats than on building the freakin things

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    For something the size of a typical 16'-18' canoe, the difference between using cedar and using spruce was usually 2-3 lbs. but the spruce resisted compression damage from impact a bit better. We used to order a stack of 20' Sitka 1 x 12 boards from Fred Tebb lumber out west and have them shipped to Illinois. Back then (early 1970s) each 20-footer was around $20. The best stuff we could find locally in long lengths back then was redwood. It worked but was kind of brittle., so you needed to be more careful when twisting strips. Redwood seems to have disappeared from most lumber stores these days - probably for environmental reasons, but I don't know for sure. It used to be readily available in long, clear boards and pretty cheap.

    A couple of redwood strippers:

    the top canoe here

    big-move-017.jpg

    this one is redwood with spruce stripes and an ash keel strip.

    drift-boat.jpg

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    Default Re: Cedar Lumber Price Woes - Sources? Suitable lightweight substitutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    Back then (early 1970s) each 20-footer was around $20. The best stuff we could find locally in long lengths back then was redwood. It worked but was kind of brittle., so you needed to be more careful when twisting strips. Redwood seems to have disappeared from most lumber stores these days - probably for environmental reasons, but I don't know for sure. It used to be readily available in long, clear boards and pretty cheap.
    That era saw me building my first boat, a 14' stripper scow from plans in Popular Science magazine... exactly 50 years ago. I sourced 1x10 clear FOHC redwood 16' boards from a lumberyard (Heller, still there!) in Arlington Heights IL, hauled 'em on the roof of my Honda Civic to a guy I knew in Buffalo Grove who had a table saw. Pile of sawdust got up to about 14" under the saw by the time we were done ripping 'em into 1/4" strips that I then bundled well & hauled up to McHenry.

    I have absolutely no memory of what those boards cost back then but I could afford it so it couldn't have been exorbitant. $20 each doesn't seem out of line, I think I needed six or seven in all.

    Several years later I sourced some 5/4 redwood out of Geister Lumber (sadly, gone) in Elgin IL for a commission I got to build some window screens for a gal I knew with a house in Riverwoods IL. She was adamant about using redwood; the house was sided in redwood, all the interior and exterior trim was redwood, she could afford it. Bronze window screen too, really nice stuff. But as I wasn't paying for it (thankfully!!) I don't recall what it all cost. I made a few hundred on the project so I was well pleased.

    Yes redwood is brittle. Red cedar not so much if it's decent stuff & not too knotty. Selected for quality, I'd have no hesitation using lumberyard SPF nowadays for a stripper myself, knowing what I know now that I didn't know back then.

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