Here’s a dilemma – I want to build a couple of cedar planters for myself, but have no idea where to get cedar boards from.
I ordered a small elevated planter for this season, but I have two custom designs I want to build and experiment with, and that means getting my hands on cedar boards.
Last year, I couldn’t find any cedar locally, although one home center had a couple of cedar picket fencing panels in sad shape last year that I passed on.
There’s a lumber specialty shop that’s maybe 35-40 minutes from here, but 1) now’s not the time to shop regional stores, and 2) their online price sheet suggested it would be less expensive for me to order the premium-priced boards by the pair from an online garden center.
I checked Lowe’s website, and they have 1″ x 6″ x 8′ boards (nominal) for $12.87 each, and thinner 5/8″ x 5.5″ x 8′ boards for $14.16 each.
The website estimated truck delivery at $40, then $65, and $79 at checkout for a dozen 1″ x 6″ x 8′ boards plus two 2×4 cedar boards. That doesn’t seem too bad.
But here’s the question – is it wise to order cedar boards from a home center?
Home Depot doesn’t seem to have cedar boards, or at least not like this. I haven’t checked with the local building supplier (they only have cedar trim in their online price sheet) or other lumber yards.
Some of the online reviews are fair. Others caution about split boards, warped and twisted boards, and of other defects.
Obviously the best action would be to visit a store and hand-pick the better quality boards, but that’s not an option now. Even when it is, I don’t have the capacity to transport 8′ boards home in my SUV, or at least not 1″ x 6″ x 8′ boards. 2x4s and 2x6s can be a challenge, but for the quantity I would want in cedar boards, home delivery seems a better choice.
I’m not opposed to ordering lumber online, and have ordered hardwood bundles from online suppliers in 4′ to 6′ lengths before.
At the time of this posting, Gardener’s has cedar boards at $55 for (2) 1-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ x 6′ boards. An order of (6) pairs or (12) boards would be $330. They have free shipping right now, and with the $5 per pair additional handling charge, that’s $360 not including tax.
It’s not an apples vs. apples comparison, as Lowe’s boards are 8′ long and Gardener’s are 6′ (you can get 8′ at higher cost and greater shipping premium). But $360 vs. $235 is a big difference. Although, I might be able to resaw the Gardener’s boards down the middle for ~3/4″ boards, doubling the length, so that’s something to consider, although kerf losses and planing would likely result in 5/8″ thick boards.
This dilemma – where to source cedar boards, let alone ones that are straight enough to work with near-immediately happened last year too, forcing me to delay the planter projects a year.
This is also a moot point of Lowe’s can’t deliver the lumber to me. They have two sizes of cedar – Top Choice boards with the 1″ nominal thickness, and also the thinner 5/8″ boards. The 1″ boards look to only ship from a Lowe’s store around 40-45 minutes away from here, which might be beyond their delivery range during normal seasons – I don’t know. I wouldn’t know until I placed the order and they started processing it for fulfillment.
As you can tell, I’m somewhat of a nervous buyer when it comes to sourcing certain project materials. I’ve learned that some suppliers are better when it comes to raw materials – wood, specialty wood, plastic bars and sheets, aluminum and steel, and others. Others are worse or even terrible.
So what I’m asking is this – if you’ve bought cedar at home centers, what have your experiences been like?
I’ve had good experiences with “project boards” from home centers for small projects, but for dimensional lumber such as 2x4s, I can be there a while, picking out the better (but still not perfect) boards from the truly terrible ones.
There’s also the idea of going with pine – I have a bunch of 2x4s I can rip down to more usable sizes – or other woods and painting or sealing them, but that’s not ideal for food-safe vegetable planters. One of my planned projects is for a sub-irrigated planter, which would require a pond liner to separate wood from soil, but it still feels like cedar is the better way to go.