In my late seventies, I consider myself to be very fortunate to have a really nice woodshop and
lots of choice lumber. I am living out part of my childhood dreams. Now, If you look at my
woodshop, it is really crowded with tools, and lumber is stashed everywhere. In fact, it is getting
hard to walk around in there. That is not good for productivity. But last week some events
happened that made me admit that I need help. Somehow I need to stop buying lumber.
I spend a good amount of time searching the internet for tool and lumber bargains. And in these
economic times many bargains do present themselves. On the internet, several national auction
companies present lists of auctions weekly- auctions for cabinet makers and wood product
manufacturers who are going out of business. One such auction described small lots of “premier
furniture quality pine lumber” up in central North Carolina. In my mind I pictured all those wide
and perfect white pine boards in my trailer as I happily drive home from North Carolina. This
purchase would eliminate the many trips I make to Lowes or Home Depot to pick up a couple of
boards of utility pine for my various projects. Of course, it would save money if the auction
price were right, and perhaps I could favor some of my woodworker friends by offering some premier
pine to them at a price they couldn’t refuse. That might even pay for what I keep for myself.
Well, now I am forced torealize that all this is addictive thinking. I know now that I need to join
LAA, Lumber Addicts Anonymous. I can hear it now: “Hi! I’m Dick, and I’m a lumber addict.”
But then there was no choice. I was driven to bid, and I would work out the arrangements later.
At the time, a trip of 400 miles one way did not seem particularly long. I bid a total of $150.00
on three lots, totaling about 600 board feet of this “premium” pine. Not bad, about twenty five
cents per board foot. The die was cast.
To my surprise, five days later when the auction ended, there were no other bidders. I had
bought the lumber with my first bid. The good news was that the price was very low. The bad news
was that there might be something wrong with the lumber. Oh well, let’s go for it. I borrowed a
full sized pickup truck, rented a trailer on the North Carolina end of the trip, and hit the
Leaving Atlanta at 2 pm put me in the Durham area just after dark. I found a motel and went to
sleep with dreams of sugar plums and a gift of beautiful lumber under the Christmas tree. Up bright
and early the next morning, I found the trailer rental place, went through their hookup process, and
drove to the auction site. There were my three lots, under huge stacks of other lumber. The first
lot looked pretty good, but- there must be a mistake. The other two lots had a few fine white
pine 2x6 planks, but were mostly 2x2 Lowes variety utility yellow pine, some narrow off-cut strips,
and a lot of small reject pieces with many knots, bark, swooping curves and other various and sundry
defects. Unfortunately, there was no turning back now, but I could see written complaints I would
write to the auction company in the future about this adventure.
It did not improve my state of mind when the helper assigned to me for loading asked how I would
explain all this to my woodworking buddies back in Atlanta. In a way, confessing my errant ways in
this article is part of my addiction recovery therapy.
We sorted and loaded the lumber worth bringing it back to Atlanta, leaving a large pile of
“premier” fireplace wood behind. Again I eased my pain by thinking that a lighter trailer load
would consume much less fuel on the way home. I also kept telling myself that this was quite an
After a day of restacking some wood in the shop to make room, the smaller stack of new pine is
neatly stacked, ready for that next piece of furniture to be made. Things are a little more
crowded. The previously planned mahogany table is now going to be a pine table, and I now go to
weekly meetings of Lumber Addicts Anonymous. At least for the near future, I have stopped looking at
lumber auctions. To ease my pain and embarrassment, the auction company sent a refund check. They
are an honest operation.
Anyone want to buy a small amount of premier furniture pine at a very low price?