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You may use wood for your home projects, but purchasing wood can be pricey. For example, a 2 in. x 4 in. x 8 in. plank of wood can be $3.
While this doesn't seem like a lot on the surface, keep in mind that you'll need a good amount of wood if you want to complete anything, even if you're just looking for firewood.
Of course, that point is discouraging. But don't worry because you're in luck! You may not even have to pay if you want lumber. Therefore, it's a good idea to look into ways to get free wood.
16 Ways To Get Free Wood
Craigslist is an interesting resource to be able to place posts of all types. You can post looking for workers or requesting jobs, promoting your service or looking for one, selling stuff, etc.
More importantly, people on Craigslist often have random stuff that they want to give up. Consequently, they sometimes end up posting about it on Craigslist looking for the lucky person that wants their items.
This may include leftover lumber that they had from past projects that they no longer need. You should take advantage of opportunities like this so that you can get wood for your projects.
In fact, many cities have sections that are specifically for free stuff, organized by the city.
These are some examples:
- New York Free Stuff
- SF Bay Area Free Stuff
- Boston Free Stuff
- Chicago Free Stuff
- Los Angeles Free Stuff
If you live in any of these areas, you should try and find free wood in these links. If not, you can just search for your area.
2. Facebook Online Groups
You probably know Facebook as a social media by now. However, you can also join Facebook groups. Some of them are created for the sole purpose of sharing free stuff called local yard sale groups.
You'll be surprised at the free stuff you'll be able to get through this method. These groups are often filled with people who were too lazy or busy to create an actual yard sale, even if they're losing potential profit.
Once you think you've spotted some lumber that you can make use of, you'll have to meet with whoever is giving away the item(s) you want.
However, it's important to note that sometimes you have to give something up to get something in return. It's not always a situation without conditions. You may have to give something up in the group before you can receive anything for free. The purpose of this is so that everybody has a chance to receive but also needs to contribute.
You may have noticed your neighbors doing products that they used wood for or seen them making a bonfire. If this is the case, they may have some extra wood that they no longer need.
If you're friendly with your neighbors, then it would definitely be worth it to inquire if they have any extra wood that they can give you.
If they're generous and don't make you pay them for the wood or ask for anything in return, then you're all set. It serves as a great method of getting free wood for whatever you may need it for.
4. Free Bins Or Barrels
Some companies have a decent amount of extra wood, so they leave out bins or barrels that are labeled “Free Wood” in the parking lot. This is the least difficult way to get lumber without having to pay.
Keep in mind, a good portion of the wood in the bin is likely going to be worthless. This is because the containers are often stacked with small scraps that aren't very valuable for much other than to be used as firewood.
However, if there is a free wood bin near your house, consistently checking it will likely eventually turn out to be worth it.
5. Scrapyards/ Junkyards
Extra wood can be found in plenty of locations, such as scrapyards. Usually, scrap lumber from companies is taken to the local scrap yard or burned. Therefore, this is a great opportunity for you to get free wood.
You may be able to find some scrap lumber and maybe some plywood pieces. You may be able to either ask the company to give you the wood prior or head to a scrap yard or junkyard and find wood yourself.
6. Thrift Stores & Local Retailers
Thrift stores are an interesting option to get free wood. While you likely won't be able to get piles of old wood from a thrift shop or a retailer, you may be able to get cheap furniture, that you can then take apart from a thrift store.
Furniture from retailers are more likely to be clean and ready to go than thrift store furniture.
7. Dumpster Diving
This may not be an ideal location to search through, but a dumpster is a great option. People often throw out things that they no longer want, such as furniture or lumber. You can search through and find what you need, as it's usually legal to do so.
Keep in mind that you should probably wear gloves and eye protection when searching through the trash.
8. Barn Salvaging
An excellent place to find high-quality wood is a barn. If you or anybody you know has a broken-down barn, shed, garage, or any other wooden creation, you can help them clean up any remaining wood and use it.
An idea is to make a post on a site such as Craigslist saying that you'll exchange labor in regards to cleaning up the barn in exchange for free wood.
9. Demolition Or Remodeling Contractors
If you find one that works in older neighborhoods or old homes often, you can make a sort of agreement with a contractor at a demolition site by providing a trailer. With this, they can load it up with any wood they need to remove from the site.
You can ask for free wood in return for providing the trailer. This will also save them money on the removal process. Ensure that they don't put any trash, insulation, drywall, etc. with the wood.
You may end up with a good amount of scraps, so you'll have to filter through the wood and find what you can use and what you can't use.
10. New Construction Sites
In the majority of the locations you'll find yourself in, there are probably construction sights somewhere nearby. At sites where old homes and buildings are being torn down, wood is going to be removed. These are some of the best locations to get lumber for free. You have a couple of options in regards to gaining access to this wood.
First, you can make it a one-time thing. You'll need to find one of the construction workers and request to speak to somebody of higher authority. When you get to talk to a manager or supervisor, you can ask if you can have any of the extra lumber. This is actually a win-win situation as you're getting free wood and the lumber removal process becomes free for them.
The second option is to create an agreement to come back on a regular basis and get free lumber in exchange for taking scrap and debris off of the site. This is also a mutually beneficial method as they're getting free labor and saving money, while you're getting free wood.
11. Shipyards & Boatyards
If there have been any shipwrecks or old boats are being taken apart, this may serve as an opportunity for you to get some free wood.
If there are any boatyards in your area, you may want to check whether the owner will be willing to give you any scraps.
12. Wood Product Manufacturers
Wood manufacturing companies may find themselves with extra scraps when creating furniture and other similar structures. Therefore, you may be able to get some free lumber from them.
You may have to do some manual labor in order to get the wood because many companies may not be willing to give up some of their materials for free.
13. Ask Your Friends
Maybe some of your friends use wood to build fires or have extra wood from some household projects. You may want to consider asking them if they have any wood that they no longer need.
It would also be helpful if they also asked their friends if they have any extra wood that they don't need. That way, you can maximize the amount of wood you'll get for free by receiving lumber from multiple sources.
They may request that you do some manual labor for them in exchange for the free wood, so be prepared for that possibility.
Apps to Find Free Wood
OfferUp is a mobile-based platform that's made for locally selling and buying a wide variety of items.
If you wish to sell something, it's an easy process. First, download the app. Then, photograph the item that you'll be selling. Once you upload the image to the site, you'll have to specify how much it will cost.
Then, when people see your post and are interested in what you have to offer, they'll contact you if it's something they believe they'd like to purchase.
It's even simpler if you're the person buying something. The only procedure you have to follow is viewing people's posts in regards to what they're selling and contact them.
The platform places emphasis on transactions being quality, so you'll have to complete the buying/selling process in person. This makes sure that everybody is satisfied in the end.
The website also has a section that's specifically for free items, both new and used. This is even better, as when you meet up with the seller, you won't have to pay anything.
NextDoor is a sort of private form of social media for your neighborhood.
The resource is excellent to gain intel on current events going on in your area, such as information on available babysitters, activities, safety, etc. All the information readily available on the website makes it an excellent choice for staying connected with people in your community.
There's also a Sale and Free section that allows people to sell stuff to others within their area. They can also give away free stuff, including any free wood that's just serving as extra junk in their backyard. This is definitely an opportunity that you should take advantage of.
You may be able to find some wood in the free section. Therefore, it's an excellent option for potentially getting free lumber added to your wardrobe.
Is free wood safe?
Free wood should definitely be safe as long as it is cleaned properly.
What to clean free wood with?
Reclaimed wood is often relatively dirty, as it was normally going to be thrown out if you hadn't claimed it. Therefore, if you intend to use it for a project, you may need to clean it, especially if it's for something inside of your home.
First, you'll need to do a quick check to see if your wood has old nails or tacks in it. If there are only a few tacks, you can wait until right before you wash the wood to remove them. However, if there are a ton of tacks in any pieces of wood, you should take them out immediately.
You may not even want to remove them if you like them. If you don't like the look of them, then definitely use a tack puller. While it isn't too hard to remove them, you'll need time and patience to do so.
Now, the cleaning process. Before starting, you'll want to gather your materials, which are:
- A poly scrub brush
- Optional: Toothbrush or grout brush
- Bottle of dishwashing detergent for removing grease/grime
- Latex gripping gloves
- Garden hose with a spray nozzle
- Pair of sawhorses (buy these or build them)
- Level drying surfaces
- Old work clothes
The sawhorses will be used to support the wood that you'll be cleaning. You'll also need some extra sawhorses or similar objects that'll serve as drying racks for the wood.
It's best to do this on as sunny day so that the sun will do the drying for you. If your wood is left wet for too long, this will lead to the growth of mold.
When you're ready to begin cleaning, mix your cleaning solution in your bucket. A good solution is about 1 cup of dishwashing detergent with water in a 5-gallon bucket.
Next, spray the wood with water to get rid of any of the loose dirt and grime. Then, to get a deeper cleanse, dip your scrub brush into the cleaning solution and scrub down all of the lumber. Make sure to get into any grooves in the wood. If it's too tricky with a scrub brush, you may need to use a more narrow brush, like a toothbrush.
Once you've scrubbed the boards completely, thoroughly rinse the boards multiple times to make sure that all of the soap is removed. Also, make sure to rinse your hands, or you'll ultimately end up getting soap back on the wood.
Then, place the boards on your drying rack to dry. It should take about 2-6 hours for the wood to fully dry, depending on how sunny and hot it is outside. While it's vital to make sure the wood isn't wet for too long, you also need to make sure that the boards aren't out there so long that they bake in the sun, as they'll bow or curl.
To make sure the wood is dry, you can check on how it looks. Wet wood will look darker than dry wood.
Once the wood is dry, keep it in a dry environment until you're ready to use it for a project.
If you use at least one of these methods, then you're on your way to quickly getting free wood.
Why pay large amounts of money for wood when you can access the resources that you need in different ways without even having to pay.
It's all ethical and in some cases even beneficial for various companies, as many of the options come with the exchange for labor or the wood was going to be thrown out regardless. Therefore, not only will you receive the materials that you need, but you'll also be serving as a very valuable asset to other people's projects.