Finding and Building With Cheap Lumber

If you are like me, then you may enjoy building things with wood.  I’ve built a bookcase from common lumber, and I’ve also done a few projects using salvaged wood from old pallets.  So, how can you get lumber cheaply?  Lumber is a commodity and is bound to the markets, but you can use a few tricks to score some raw materials on the cheap.  Let’s have a look.

Storing your lumber

It is a huge help if you have a place to store the lumber that you acquire.  I am fortunate to have a large garage where I can store lumber for long periods of time.  I will buy lumber when I find a deal and simply stack it in the back of my garage until I use it for something.  This may be the most critical component.  Without a place to store material you will be bound to buying lumber “as you need it.”  This will increase your raw material costs.  You can keep it outside in a pinch, but you will need to be sure to keep it perfectly dry and free of pests.  While not an ideal storage location you can make it work with some proper preparation.

Where do I get material?

I source materials from various locations.  Here is a breakdown of the most common places that I look for lumber.

Big Box Retailers

Yes, you can get good deals on lumber from major retailers.  The trick is to buy when material is cheap.  This can be seasonal or due to some other factor such as a glut of material in the market.  Lumber prices update weekly, so you will have to pay attention to price changes and buy when there is a big drop.  This is where having a location to store material is so critical.


Places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are excellent sources for cheap building materials of all kinds.  Often, material will be free if you are willing to drive to pick it up.  You may have to disassemble and existing structure and pound out old nails and fasteners, but if you are willing to do this you will have access to an endless supply of free or cheap materials.


Wooded pallets are everywhere, and a lot of businesses and individuals can’t wait to get rid of them.  I can get wooden pallets for free from work, but there are also endless listings of them online for free or for a few dollars each.  You will have to pick them up and disassemble them, but pallet wood can make excellent building material.  Most wooden pallets are made of oak which is perfect for making reclaimed shelves, tables, shiplap walls, and pretty much anything else that you can think of.  Taking wooden pallets apart can be time consuming, but once done you will have a decent stack of usable lumber at your disposal.

What can you Build?

Once you have some raw materials you are limited only by your imagination.  You don’t even have to know what you are doing.  A few YouTube videos can teach you everything from acquiring and use of the proper tools, building techniques and tricks, and finishing and staining your work.  Don’t be scared to experiment and let your imagination run a little wild.

Some of my Projects

I’d like to share some of what I made using discounted and free lumber.  Here are a few examples of some simple projects that I have completed recently.

Here is a simple framing job that I did at our camp to prep the wall for stone veneer.  This was all common lumber from a retailer.  It was purchased with a gift card that I received at Christmas.  My cost was $0.  Total lumber cost was around $50.

A shiplap wall in a bathroom made from reclaimed pallet wood.  I had less than $20 in this project for screws and glue.

Here is a table top that I designed to be placed on top of a dog crate.  This allowed us to have more usable space.  This was made from reclaimed pallet wood.  Total cost was around $12 for screws and polyurethane.

A bookcase that I built from common lumber from a retailer.  The weathered look was achieved by painting the surface with a solution of dissolved steel wool in vinegar.  Afterwards, the bookcase was given two coats of polyurethane.  Total cost on this project was around $100.


Lumber is everywhere and can be acquired on the cheap if you are willing to look and do a little work.  Your imagination is the only thing holding you back when it comes to taking raw material and turning it into a beautiful finished project.  Hopefully some of the proceeding ideas for acquiring lumber and building things will inspire you to get out there and start building!

See Also:

10 Decorating Tips for Your First Place

New Home Tips: How to Decorate Your Home Without Spending Money

Don’t Pay Full Price For Anything

Save That Money! 8 Of The Best Money Saving Apps To Use In 2019

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