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IWF Woodworking Today

Leverage the Power of Strategic Hardwood Sourcing


June 14, 2023 | Dan Wellens

If your small business specializes in hardwoods, then you know sourcing lumber is the success factor in your operations. How you acquire hardwood—including domestic lumber, exotic woods, alternative materials like hemp wood, and reclaimed barn wood—sets your design, production, sales, and profit margin futures in motion.

One option for sourcing hardwood is through domestic lumber suppliers. This approach allows you to support local industries and develop a strong connection with your community. By focusing on specific hardwood varieties that are abundant in your region, you can establish yourself as a trusted provider of those particular woods. But remember: This approach may limit your selection and may require you to work with larger volumes to achieve profitability. 

Alternatively, you can consider incorporating exotic woods into your product offerings. The majority of my hardwoods are sourced from South America and are the key ingredient in making my creations unique and luxurious. Importing containers of exotic hardwoods can broaden your selection and attract customers who are seeking distinctive materials. But exotic wood importation comes at premium pricing. Always factor the materials cost into your margins. Finding a reliable supplier who can consistently deliver high-quality exotic woods is crucial to your success in this market.

You may also explore alternative wood materials like hemp wood to set yourself apart from competitors. Hemp wood is a sustainable and eco-friendly option that offers similar characteristics to traditional hardwoods. Utilizing hemp wood can showcase your commitment to environmental responsibility and appeal to customers who prioritize sustainability.

Another approach to differentiating your product lineup is to incorporate reclaimed barn wood into your designs. Reclaimed wood adds character and a sense of history to your products. You can create unique pieces that resonate with customers seeking a rustic or vintage aesthetic by salvaging wood from old barns or other structures. This sourcing method aligns with the growing trend of upcycling and can contribute to a sustainable and environmentally friendly image for your business.

Regardless of the type of wood you choose, it is crucial to have a reliable source that thoroughly dries the wood. Proper drying techniques prevent issues such as warping, splitting, or mold growth. Partnering with a supplier who follows industry best practices in wood drying will ensure that the materials you receive are of high quality and ready for use in your manufacturing processes. Also, the grade and cut of the wood are important considerations as different projects and customers may require specific grades of wood, ranging from select to common grades. Understanding your customers’ preferences and market demands will help you determine which grades to offer. Similarly, offering a variety of woodcuts, such as plain-sawn, quarter-sawn, or rift-sawn, can cater to different design aesthetics and functional needs.

Whether you choose domestic lumber, exotic woods, alternative materials like hemp wood, or reclaimed barn wood, each option has its unique advantages and considerations. Make sure your lumber sourcing strategy lines up with your business plan and meets the tastes and needs of your growing customer base.


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