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Posts: 1,179
Reply with quote  #1 
Project Lumber (S4S) from Big Box Stores

6 Home Depot Resized.jpg 
I have received numerous e-mails asking:

    • Can I buy thin stock lumber instead of using plywood and MDF?

    • Where do you get your thin stock lumber?

    • Many project plans use thin stock and I do not know what to do!”

    • What do I ask my lumber store for and how do I describe it?

    • Can I make my own thin stock lumber and how do I do that?

These are just a few of the common questions I have received.


In a nutshell here is a brief summary of the contents of this article.

Yes - You can purchase thin stock lumber. Many of the big box stores carry “Project Lumber” also referred to “Hobby Lumber”. They are perfect to use when building any of the plan sets and usually are available in Maple, Poplar, Oak and Red Oak, you may even find some Select Pine.

Yes - You can make your own thin stock lumber and wide boards, and I will point you to articles posted on the web site that discuss that specific topic.

Below is a photo of some thin stock I purchased today. 1/4" and 1/2" Popular, Square Dowels, 3/8" Select Pine and 5/16" Lattice.

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The link below opens the PDF to the article.

Project Lumber.

Happy Toy Making with Thin Stock
Imants Udris (Udie)


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Posts: 1,179
Reply with quote  #2 
Another lucky find at the saw mill. 3/8" x 5-1/2" x 4' Pine and 1/4" x 9-3/8" x 3' laminated solid Birch.
Perfect for many plan sets which required long side panels.
   It might be an idea to check to see if you have a saw mill or two (2) close to you or within an hours drive. You just might be surprised at what you can find to help you make your toys and at a lower cost than what is asked by the big box stores.

Saw Mill.jpg

Ken Martin

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Reply with quote  #3 
Good Job Udie
Lots of interesting info here.

Kenneth W Martin
john lewman

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Imants,
   Thanks for this very useful post. I'd like to point out that the first photo in your post showing the ends of the lumber is of the actual lumber rack in the stores. I at first had a difficult time finding the lumber because it is down at floor level and all you see is the ends of the boards. I have had a lot of toymakers tell me that they were unaware of this type of material because it is not easy to find or see in the retail environment. Both Lowes and Home Depot display this material as shown in your photo.

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Reply with quote  #5 
hi all we have those same racks here in the uk i have found myself that there not to bad if you only need 1 or 2 bits but if you need a lot it can work out a lot of money to buy that way. i do find if you find a good timber yard they do have a lot of timber of all sizes in soft and hardwoods and a lot have off cut bins you can have a look in.hope this is helpful.
Gary Wisbey

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Reply with quote  #6 
I would like to add my two cents here. Hobby lumber can be very helpful, on a small scale, and if you are in a pinch. However, the cost for this is high. I happen to have a surface planer, so I can mill my own stock at whatever thickness I want. Folks, I have just started making toys for fun and some profit. i have yet to buy lumber. I have a scrap bin that would burn for days, if I lit it. The only wood supplies I have bought are dowel stock and 3/4" x 3/16" toy wheels. Buy wheels in big quantities. And when you buy dowels, bring a caliper with you. In the U.S, a 1/4" dowel may not exactly be 1/4", especially if it was made in china! One more thing, if you know of a custom woodworking shop, visit and ask if you could look thru the scrap bin or dumpster. Sometimes they would be very happy to help, they may even help you load up. Bring a truck!

Jeremy Talbot
Little Al's Garage

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Reply with quote  #7 
Jeremy (JTalbot) - Great input and suggestion for sourcing wood from local manufacturers. You are absolutely correct in saying "Bring a caliper when purchasing dowels'. The Forum has many posts with respect to disappointing dowel purchases as well as the Imperial vs Metric dilemma when purchasing stock materials.

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Reply with quote  #8 
I've bought several pieces at times from the Big Box store at the location Udie's first photo shows and I must say I'm very happy choosing the Aspen wood there for our type of vehicle projects. It's a great price, excellent to cut and has a great look although I can't say about painting as I don't paint wood but prefer natural with maybe a small amount of color change from the finish. I should add that Aspen is a light shade of wood which remeinds me of a cross between Pine and Poplar.
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