Are you looking to start a new woodworking project but don’t have the tools or space to cut lumber to the exact sizes you need? Purchasing wood that’s pre-cut to your desired dimensions can save you time and effort while ensuring accuracy and quality. This guide will walk you through the best options for getting wood cut to size, whether you’re a hobbyist tackling a weekend DIY or a professional woodworker with custom cabinetry needs.
The Benefits of Buying Precut Wood
Purchasing wood that’s already cut to your specifications offers several advantages compared to rough cut lumber that requires sizing on your own:
Accuracy and Consistency
When you have wood cut by a professional shop, you can be confident that each piece will have the precise measurements you need for your project. This accuracy and consistency allows for tighter joinery, easier assembly, and a more professional finished product.
Cutting lumber to size yourself requires extra time for planning cuts, setting up tools, and carefully executing each cut – time better spent on the actual woodworking. Having wood precut by a supplier allows you to skip this step and jump right into the building process.
Cutting your own lumber results in extra scraps and waste since each board is oversized at first. Having wood cut to your exact sizes means no wasted material. This can add up to significant savings on larger projects.
###Specialized Equipment Not Needed
Precut wood eliminates the need for you to invest in expensive stationary or specialty tools like table saws, radial arm saws, chop saws, and panel saws. For those with a small shop or limited tools, having suppliers do the cutting is often the only viable option.
So in most cases, choosing wood that arrives cut to your specifications makes the most sense. But where can you find suppliers offering this service? Let’s explore some options…
Purchasing Precut Wood at Home Centers
For small DIY projects, the easiest route is having wood cut to size at your local home improvement store. Most locations with lumber yards now offer on-site millwork services for customers.
What They Can Cut
Most home centers will cut dimensional lumber (2x4s, 2x6s, etc.), plywood, and other common boards to your requested sizes. Simply provide them with a cut list and they’ll handle the rest. Most have cutting capacities up to 12 feet for length.
Expect to pay a small upcharge per cut on top of the base price of the lumber. This generally runs $0.25 to $1.00 per cut depending on the location. Simple straight cuts are cheaper than angled cuts. Provide detailed cut lists to minimize cuts and costs.
Home centers cut wood as needed for customers throughout the day. During peak hours you may wait 15 minutes or more for an associate to cut your lumber order. Calling in advance lets them set materials aside to cut when you arrive.
Precision of Cuts
The cutting accuracy at home centers is generally good for most DIY needs but may lack the precision of specialty suppliers. Cuts are done quickly with circular saws, leaving some margin for slight errors. Confirm your boards were cut precisely before leaving.
For small hobbyist projects where time is less critical, having lumber cut on-site at home centers is quick and convenient. It’s best for straightforward cuts.Precision is good but not perfect – inspect boards before purchase.
Working with Local Lumber Suppliers
For cabinet builders, furniture makers, and other woodworking professionals, home centers likely won’t meet your needs for specialty woods, large volumes, and precision. In these cases, going through a full-service lumber supplier is best.
What They Offer
Local lumber companies cater to tradespeople and offer much wider selections of domestic and exotic lumber species beyond the basics at home stores. They can supply you with any volume you need, shipped directly or available for pickup. Precision is excellent.
Most will also cut your lumber to size for an added fee using industrial stationary saws. This allows access to a wide array of materials while still getting the custom cutting service you need. Many will also plane and joint boards after cutting for a finished ready-to-use product.
Expect to pay significantly more buying direct through a lumber supplier versus home centers. Exotic woods and large quantities command higher base pricing. Cutting fees are typically $2-$5 per cut depending on complexity. Even with higher per-board costs, the accuracy and material selections often make it worthwhile for professionals.
Local companies are accustomed to quick turnarounds for contractors and builders. Simple cut orders can often be ready the same or next day. Have your cut list and plans finalized before ordering materials to prevent delays.
Accuracy from stationary industrial saws will be extremely precise -perfect for detailed cabinetry and furniture work. Wood species are clearly labeled and boards are checked for defects before shipment. You can order with confidence that boards will arrive ready for your project needs.
For advanced hobbyists and woodworking professionals needing specialty species, custom cuts, and large volumes with quick turnaround, local lumber suppliers are likely the best option despite higher costs. Their expertise translates to material quality and precision.
Ordering Precut Lumber Online
A relatively new option is ordering precut dimensional lumber and boards online through lumber e-commerce sites. Their services cater to DIYers and smaller scale needs.
What They Provide
Online suppliers allow you to custom order boards and dimensional lumber in small quantities, already cut to your specs. This lets you bypass home centers while still getting custom cutting services without visiting a local lumberyard.
They function as an intermediary, sourcing basic lumber from wholesalers, then cutting it to your cut list prior to shipment. This concept brings convenience to small DIY projects.
Pricing is competitive with big box stores since lumbers sources are large bulk wholesalers. Cutting fees are around $1 per cut, cheaper than local suppliers. Shipping costs need accounted for as well, which vary by location and order size.
Online retailers use the same large-scale equipment as local yards, although staff may be less specialized. Precision should still meet most hobbyist needs, but inspect boards on arrival before building with them.
Order processing and shipping time takes 1-2 weeks in most cases. This slower turnaround means online stores work best for projects with flexible timelines as opposed to last-minute needs. Plan ahead and give yourself extra time buffer.
For medium-sized DIY projects requiring custom cuts on standard dimensional lumber and plywood, online precut retailers offer reasonable pricing with the convenience of home delivery. Just account for shipping lead times.
Which Option Is Right For Your Project?
With so many choices available, how do you determine where to get your wood cut to size? First consider your project’s cutting needs:
- For small hobby builds using common dimensional lumber, home centers offer convenience and reasonable pricing.
- Contractors and professionals needing specialty woods should use local lumber suppliers for quality and quick turnarounds.
- Medium-sized residential projects are well suited for online precut lumber delivered to your door.
Also factor in:
- Your project timeline – Local yards are fastest while online ordering involves shipping lead times.
- Your budget – Home stores are cheapest but offer least selection. Local suppliers provide most choice at a premium.
- Your required precision – Local companies will offer the most accuracy.
- Provide detailed cut lists to every supplier to save money and minimize mistakes.
- Inspect all boards for defects and confirm dimensions before using.
- Ask about “short cut” discounted boards to save on waste.
With some planning and research upfront, you can find a wood supplier that offers the right balance of affordability, selection, precision, and convenience to meet the unique needs of your next woodworking project. Taking advantage of precut lumber provides significant time savings while giving professional quality results.
Frequently Asked Questions
What size projects are best suited for precut wood?
Precut lumber is advantageous for nearly any size woodworking project from picture frames to decks. The time and cost savings outweigh the cutting fees starting at just a couple cuts. Projects needing 5+ boards cut to custom sizes benefit the most.
Can suppliers handle tough exotic hardwoods?
Local professional suppliers have the specialized saws and skills to precisely cut even the hardest exotic species like ipe and ebony. Home stores may struggle with harder woods. Know the species you need cut before ordering.
Is it cheaper to buy longer rough boards and cut myself?
In most cases precut wood is either cheaper or the same price as uncut when you factor in your own time and waste. The only exception is DIY cutting just 1-2 boards with scrap leftover for other uses.
How wide of boards can be cut to size?
Up to 12” wide boards can be cut at most standard suppliers – wider than typical table saws can handle. Local mills specializing in wide slabs may cut boards up to 5 feet wide.
Can I order wood cut to size for a complex project like cabinets?
Yes, most suppliers work from detailed cut lists for kitchen cabinets, built-ins, trim, and other complex projects. Items like cabinet face frames may ship preassembled. Know your plans before ordering.
Getting your lumber cut to size offers huge time savings and convenience for any woodworking project. With a range of supplier options now available both locally and online, it’s easy to purchase boards precut to your custom specifications. Taking advantage of these millwork services allows you to focus your energy on the fun parts of the build process while still ensuring accuracy and quality. Give your next project a head start by having your lumber delivered ready to assemble and build.