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Cost for wood to be cut to length

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GnomeZone

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Hi Guys,
I'm finally taking the plunge and upgrading from my cheap plastic workbench to something I've properly made myself! I've drawn up the plans for the bench, and have been hunting around for where to order the wood from. I found a supplier local to me, and calculated the cost of my cut list including machining based on their price sheet, which said
"The price per metre is sawn to size, so for planed timber, please allow a £15 + VAT minimum machining charge up to 10m and £1.50 + VAT per metre therafter"

Excluding VAT, I arrived at £240 before VAT for the wood for a 1.2m Southern Yellow pine workbench, using the prices in the sheet and factoring in £1.50 per metre.

However, when I got the quote back, the price was quite a bit higher, at ~£390 not including VAT. This is my first time buying timber from this yard, and I usually buy small amounts of cheap timber from a wood recycling project, so I'm sure I'm missing something here: any ideas what it is? If need be I can cut the timber myself, but as I am a student and only have my bedroom and a small garden to work in I thought having it cut to size would save me a lot of effort. Unfortunately I don't have a planer/thicknesser, and have no chance of getting one, so I've accepted I'll probably need to order it planed unless I want to spend several days planing everything by hand!

Thanks for any help, I've attached the quote with a price list. Please note I'm not neccessarily saying this is an outrageous price, I have very little experience with this so was keen to see what others thought!
 

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TheTiddles

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It’s probably not cutting to length that’s driving cost, more the wastage and the fact that there will be offcuts that you are going to pay for, that and any business is going to charge as much as they think they can get away with. Maybe get another quote from somewhere else too?

Aidan
 

Myfordman

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You might be better off designing your bench around standard size PAR. Your current sizes will all have to come from larger stock and you are paying not only for the wastage but the labour of planing.
 

spb

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If those are finished sizes on the quote, then remember that your 45x100 pieces will probably be planed down from 75x125 (or whatever's their next size up in both dimensions). Depending on the supplier and their machinery, the machining process will take 5-10mm off both dimensions at an absolute minimum. If you've got a price list from them, try adding it up using the next size up sawn timber, and adding the machining charge; if that comes up closer to the price they quoted then you've found the reason.

If you want wood machined from 45x100 sawn stock, then you're probably looking at 38x89 or thereabouts for the finished size.
 

Horsee1

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My experience of places doing 'lump sum' price is that they are trying it on.

You need a break down of price, either as metre cubed or linear metre so you can check that against your other quotes.
I don't have the facilities to plane up my own timber, I recently got a quote back where I was charged multiple 'set up' fees for small adjustments in my finished size. When I pointed this out the price went down by £100.

I was also quoted double the original price by another company whose email I didn't reply to.

As a sole trader who tends to base their quotes on what I was charged last time for similar amounts of the same timber it's a nightmare.
 

AJB Temple

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Welcome. Well done you for getting stuck in. Good first post.

For things like workbenches, exact sizes are far from critical. I agree with above - stick with standard sized PAR as far as possible. Don't let them do all cutting to length - very wasteful. Get or make a couple of cheap trestles and do as much as you can yourself. In 30 years of woodworking I have never had a yard cut anything to size for me. I prefer to select my wood and choose where I cut.
 

GnomeZone

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Hi all,
Thanks for the help!
I've based the plans around 3 different sizes of wood that they list in their price brochure, which is what I requested in my initial email: 50x100, 50x75 and 50x25. I think the sizes on the quote have been reduced taking into account the wastage when planing to size.

I'll email again asking for a breakdown, and will probably end up cutting it myself: it will be a bit more work but if I'm saving a sizeable sum that can go towards some new hardware for the bench or some new tools
 

artie

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In 30 years of woodworking I have never had a yard cut anything to size for me. I prefer to select my wood and choose where I cut.
In the last 20 yrs, I once asked the merchant to cut some wood to length for me, they didn't charge me any extra, maybe because I spent many thousands of pounds per year with them, but when I got it to the site, it wasn't all the correct length.

Lesson learned, if you want the job done right, etc, etc.
 

Doug B

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A quick calculation suggests you are looking at just over 4 cubic foot of southern yellow pine which is coming out at around £100 a cubic foot, planed all round.
I don’t buy PAR but would expect to pay around double the sawn price for PAR so that would mean the sawn pine price would be around £50 a cubic foot plus Vat.
Personally I’d look at a cheaper pine say unsorted redwood like Steve Maskery has just built his bench from or for that money go for a hardwood such as Ash or Beech.
 

custard

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as I am a student and only have my bedroom and a small garden to work in I thought having it cut to size would save me a lot of effort.
I don't know where in the South West you are, but I'm based at the western end of the Solent, between Bournemouth and Southampton. If that's convenient to you then I'm a full time furniture maker with a fully equipped workshop, I'd be happy to help you out with this project by machining your cut list.
 

GarF

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Is it Robbins by any chance? I was looking at their site earlier on. TBH being at the opposite end of the country I tend to only occasionally get fancy marine ply from them which is unavailable elsewhere. I used to know a few boatbuilders who got most of their material from them as the quality was predictable, but at a price. When I've dealt with them in the past they have been super helpful, no problem dealing with my amateurish cut lists, quick delivery and good quality. Everyone will tell you to pick your own boards, but if you can't for whatever reason, I'd trust them not to send a load of carp your way.
 

GnomeZone

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I don't know where in the South West you are, but I'm based at the western end of the Solent, between Bournemouth and Southampton. If that's convenient to you then I'm a full time furniture maker with a fully equipped workshop, I'd be happy to help you out with this project by machining your cut list.
Thats a really generous offer! Unfortunately I live in Bristol, and as a student without a car I can only transport what I can carry or fit on my bicycle.

I've decided I'll ask for a more detailed breakdown, and possibly end up cutting it myself. It is Robbins: I don't think they're trying to rip me off but I think my cut list might not be the most efficent: if most of their SYP is in 2.4m lengths for example and I've ordered a lot of 1.3m lengths then there'll be a lot going to waste! I crunched the numbers on how much it would cost if this was whats happening and my spreadsheet ended up with a similar cost to the quote: I'd happily get 1.2m lengths instead to save a couple of hundred quid
 

billw

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Welcome to the woodworking life as a student without a car who has to buy PAR, I'm right with you there! The experts have already given you the best tips, I would definitely shop around - even with PAR the difference in price can be pretty wild between yards and sometimes you can tinker with the dimensions to see where their price points are.

Certainly if you can add lengths together it will reduce machining charges, also sometimes thickness is a major driver of cost and it can be cheaper to, for example, buy two 25mm pieces and glue them together than buy one 50mm thick piece. Sometimes that'll work, sometimes it won't.
 

AJB Temple

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Thats a really generous offer! Unfortunately I live in Bristol, and as a student without a car I can only transport what I can carry or fit on my bicycle.

I've decided I'll ask for a more detailed breakdown, and possibly end up cutting it myself. It is Robbins: I don't think they're trying to rip me off but I think my cut list might not be the most efficent: if most of their SYP is in 2.4m lengths for example and I've ordered a lot of 1.3m lengths then there'll be a lot going to waste! I crunched the numbers on how much it would cost if this was whats happening and my spreadsheet ended up with a similar cost to the quote: I'd happily get 1.2m lengths instead to save a couple of hundred quid
If there is any way you can take up Custard's offer, do so. He is a very fine craftsman and you will learn a great deal in a day with him. Gift horses come along rarely. This is a gift horse moment. Pay heed. Good luck, Adrian
 

TheTiddles

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Thats a really generous offer! Unfortunately I live in Bristol, and as a student without a car I can only transport what I can carry...
Many of us started there! I first purchased boards direct from a small one man operation in a forest as a student and persuaded a technician in the aerospace engineering department to plane them for me as I’d spotted their PT through an open doorway, heading for 20-years later... I still buy from him, it’s one of my favourite things to do, I get to pick whatever I want from the wood piles, sometimes taking the whole stack apart to get boards in sequence all for a great price. He’s described me as his favourite type of customer, as I know what I want and I’ve got money to pay for it.

So, dive in and I’m sure some local members will help you out. Don’t overthink your first bench too much either, after a few months you will know all its shortcomings and how to do it better, you won’t be so included to dump it if it cost a packet.

Aidan
 

Bm101

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Thats a really generous offer! Unfortunately I live in Bristol, and as a student without a car I can only transport what I can carry or fit on my bicycle.

I've decided I'll ask for a more detailed breakdown, and possibly end up cutting it myself. It is Robbins: I don't think they're trying to rip me off but I think my cut list might not be the most efficent: if most of their SYP is in 2.4m lengths for example and I've ordered a lot of 1.3m lengths then there'll be a lot going to waste! I crunched the numbers on how much it would cost if this was whats happening and my spreadsheet ended up with a similar cost to the quote: I'd happily get 1.2m lengths instead to save a couple of hundred quid
I get means are limited. Believe me. We have ALL been there at some point.
Beg borrow or steal the train /bus /bike funds. F***ing Walk most of the way. Forget macining the timber for now.
But if I was in your position and got to go and even have a chat with a man like Custard I'd be making every effort to get there even if if was just for a half an hour to make a contact and see how things are done at a higher level. Man knows what he is doing. Just in your shell like. Make the effort to take advantage of an opportunity.
Or don't.
;)
 

TJC

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For reference you could get that stock in redwood and non specified hardwood dowel from Selco for £205 ex vat, with free delivery and you get to keep all the offcuts..
 

MikeG.

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Buy this planed, by all means, but buy their stock lengths. Essentially, that's what you'll be paying for anyway with this cutting list, so you may as well have it, and keep the offcuts. Cutting stuff to length is just about the easiest skill in woodworking, and it's quick, too. I really don't see what you gain by having someone else do it for you.
 
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