Cheap Wood For The Win!

Last week I introduced the design for new compost bins to replace our old ones. While I was excited to get much better compost bins, the old ones were free and the new ones are not. Sad. Not only was I going to buy wood for the new bins, I also had to get cedar, a more expensive wood than conventional pine. To help mitigate the costs, finding cheap wood was a must. And that is where the discount wood bin in any big box hardware store comes in handy!

This wonderful bin is full of wood that is up to 70% off full price! The downside of course is that the wood is normally pretty terrible. Most pieces are warped, cracked, or discolored in some way. On top of that, it’s a limited selection of wood that the store has decided to mark down.

Depending on what project you’re doing, the wood in the discount bin may be too bad for what you need. But, like this compost bin project, you may realize that cracked or discolored isn’t a big deal. Or the pieces you need are short enough that a little warp won’t cause a big issue. While I want our bins to look better than the old ones, they are still holding a glorified trash can and discount wood meets the needs perfectly! With a little bit of patience and the right project, the discount wood bin can save you a ton of money.

For my new compost bins, I needed rough 2”x4” cedar lumber, and lot’s of it. But I didn’t need it all at once! Since the hardware store is really close to our house, I didn’t mind stopping in a few times to find all of the necessary wood, especially since the build took me several weekends of work. I looked specifically for pieces that met my project needs. A lot of the bin design has two boards sandwiched together, which means a little bit of warp wouldn’t cause any issues as the screws could hold it straight. Also, cracks through the wood were fine, since this is outdoors and doesn’t have to look perfect. Any cracks or splits could be hidden or held together with a strategically placed screw.

One more pro tip before I go into the savings on this project. Sometimes (or frequently) the discount bin may not have the wood you’re looking for. So you walk on over to pick up some new pieces and think to yourself that a lot of them are complete crap. Happens all the time, which is why picking out wood can be the longest part of a project. Or am I the only one taking hours at the store grabbing the “perfect” lumber? Doesn’t matter, the point is that a lot of the “good” wood is pretty bad. If it still fits your project needs but looks pretty bad, you can always just ask an associate at the store to mark it down. Try to honestly assess if the wood is bad, but typically those pieces will end up in the discount bin eventually, you’re just speeding up the process. 

You may be asking, is the extra effort to get cheap wood worth it? Yep. Here’s the savings from the compost bin wood:

Original Price

12 boards – 2”x4” x 8′ Rough Cedar – $11.67 each

3 boards – 2”x4” x 10’ Rough Cedar – $13.07 each

Total: $179.25

Discount Price

12 boards – 2”x4” x 8′ Rough Cedar – $3.50 each

3 boards – 2”x4” x 10’ Rough Cedar – $3.92 each

Total: $53.76

Total Savings: $125.49

Buying wood from the discount bin may have cost me an extra hour of work between extra trips to the store and time spent sorting through wood at the store. $125.49/hour is pretty damn good. Even if it took me an extra 2 or 3 hours, it would be well worth it for the savings. So keep the discount bin in mind for your next project and find that cheap wood!

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