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I live in Lithuania, Eastern Europe. Throughout the years, I have bought lumber from more than 20 lumberyards all around the country, trying to find at least a single one that could sell me straight, clear boards that I need for making boats and spars. My efforts were in vain. Even though I always bought the highest quality lumber, dried and calibrated, and often even promised to pay double for the really good stuff, the stuff they actually give me is barely acceptable to make pallets. I am slowly accepting the fact that there is no quality lumber in my country, regardless of how much I am willing to pay. The boards I get are twisted, bent, warped, don't have a single straight edge, and are full of knots (I am talking big ones, every 10-20 cm (4-8 inches).

By the time I re-rip and plane these boards flat and straight, there is almost nothing left to use, and 3/4 of the wood is wasted. What's worse, when I rip a straightened and flattened board, it often starts twisting and warping right after it comes out of the tablesaw - that's how bad it is. Before you say it, the machines I have in my shop are of high quality, and I do know how to use them.

Because of that reason, I am forced to consider ways to straighten and flatten these boards after ripping them to dimensions. I tried forcing it them into shape using steam boxes, but most of the time the lumber breaks, even after steaming a piece for hours, and bending slowly. Even when it works, I still can't get them perfectly straight and flat, especially when the bend is compound and changes direction every few meters. Steam-bending to approximate straightness and then finishing up with a tablesaw or a planer doesn't work, because as I said, these boards start immediately warping again as soon as they come out of the machines due to released internal stress.

You can't imagine how frustrating this is. I haven't seen a straight board since the last time I visited USA. The stuff we get in Lithuania is beyond horrible.

Fellow woodworkers, do you have any advice for me? How do work with such lumber without wasting so much time and money? I can't afford shipping lumber from other countries or continents...

Thank you for your time.

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    It's usually the case that you simply can't do this. The wood is warping because it needs to, and even if you could get it back to straight and flat it won't stay that way (the majority of the time). Obviously you already know this but the only real solution is better wood — what they're selling you is from trees not being grown for lumber (at least not properly), so it's full of internal stresses, i.e. reaction wood, and there's really no getting around that. – Graphus Apr 5 '18 at 17:07
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    Thank you, @Graphus , but as I said, there is no realistic way for me to get a better quality lumber... – J R Apr 5 '18 at 19:29
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    I feel your pain man, I can't imagine what it would be like if I couldn't get any decent wood and I'm not even trying to build anything even a quarter the size of a boat. – Graphus Apr 6 '18 at 11:21
  • If your project is small enough, you might have look actually using something which has been built before, like an old bench or something. Here in the UK it's quite common to see a church organ going cheaply. And they're made from stuff that's cut into straight pieces which might be useful to you. – Wilson May 16 '18 at 11:48
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It may be that the better quality lumber is being sold to larger companies, such as furniture manufacturers. Perhaps you could find a lumber using company that has secured a reliable source, and purchase from them.

I know some people that buy their wood from a local cabinet shop rather than direct from a supplier. The supplier has more reason to keep a big buyer happy, and you can possibly benefit from that.

  • That's what I thought too. I called lots of furniture manufacturers. They get the same sh*t as the rest of us. For specialized projects, they ship the good stuff from USA, for insane prices. Theoretically, I could ask them to get some extra for me on their next shipment, but that would still cost me around 20 times more than buying local lumber (about $4000 per cubic meter, or ~$10 per board foot)... – J R Apr 5 '18 at 22:03
  • $10 per board foot is not that bad a price, depending on what you're talking about. That's about what you'd expect to pay retail for most domestic hardwoods where I'm located. – SaSSafraS1232 Apr 6 '18 at 17:27
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    I'm talking about simple pine or spruce. It might not seem much to you, but people in my country earn about $300 per month on average, so believe me, $10 per foot is an insane price for us. – J R Apr 6 '18 at 20:42
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1) clamp it flat. 2) biscuit it to support boards on either edge. 3) if that doesn't work and there is room to hide them, first reinforce the support boards with boards attached to the support boards at a 90 degree angle and out of sight. These stiffener boards will resist warping even under great stress.

This is not ideal, but it may work in your situation.

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