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  • Transporting lumber home without a truck

    Hi guys,

    I'm just getting into woodworking more seriously as a hobby now that I'm a homeowner and have room for a shop. Right now, it seems like one of the bigger hurdles for me is actually getting lumber back to my house. I have all the time in the world to actually spend working in the shop, but that doesn't get me very far without a truck. What do most of you do if you don't have a truck? The options I've considered so far are 1- borrow a friend's truck, but i hate to put people out, 2- rent a truck, 3 - have it delivered, 4 - install a trailer hitch on my car and devise some type of rack system to support sheet goods and longer lumber, 5 - buy a truck.

    It gets old asking people for help every time I need some lumber, and renting a truck every time can get pricey. I'd rather not buy one, so I'm sort of leaning towards a hitch and a small utility trailer for my car. For those of you who do it that way, can you share some tips on racks that work for you and how big of a trailer I'd need to carry man made sheet goods along with some 10' boards?

    Thanks for the tips.

  • #2
    Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

    I do woodworking all the time, and have no truck and located about 20 miles from the closest source of lumber, I currently have a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which I can fit several sticks of lumber in that are up to 10 foot long, as well as a roof rack I can transport them on. I also have a 4 and 1/2 by 8 1/2 foot trailer that I picked up for about $500 that I can transport up to 20 sheets of 1" ply in, has worked out great and I didn't have to incur the extra expense of renting a truck or borrowing a truck, check with your local home depot or lowes, often times they sell smaller utility trailers for a low cost, that work out quite well. Dp.

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    • #3
      Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

      get yourself a nice used dodge/plymouth/chrysler minivan, but the long one(grand version). with the seats removed, it will carry several 4x8 sheets of plywood or sheetrock. it will also accomodate at least 1/2 dozen 12' 2x pieces of lumber, all with the tailgate closed. if you get one with a roof rack, i've stacked 9 2x12s up there withouot incident or effort. i've had 3 of them and loved every one of them. put 250M miles on the last one and never had to touch the engine. POS mercury villager i bought to replace the last chrysler corp minivan won't carry much of anyhting as one of the rear seats is not removable. don't waste the time or money with any type of SUV as they are essentially useless for hauling anything near what a chrysler brand grand minivans can carry. matter of fact, one of the things i love doing at HD is driving past someone struggling to get a few 8' 2x4s in their suv and laughingly suggest they get a useful vehicle like a minivan.
      there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

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      • #4
        Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

        What kind of car do you have? I had a $20 rack from amazon on my Nissan Sentra and could get plywood or 12' long boards up there. You'll only be able to get 2-3 sheets of plywood before you hit 200 lbs, but that is enough for a lot of projects. For boards, you need to make sure you have them stacked and plastic wrapped together so they have enough rigidity not to flop around. After ditching my Sentra, I bought a $300 Thule rack. It doesn't let me carry any more than a $20 rack, but it is attached to the vehicle very well and is quiet so I don't need to take it off all the time.

        I've even gotten a 28' extension ladder on the top of the car using the rack. The most important thing is to always have ratcheting tie downs and bungees with you so that your load is securely attached to your rack, which is in turn securely attached to your car.

        Edit: Also anything ~8' or less fits into my car by folding the seat down. If you don't need long boards, you can precut them to a size that fits into the car.

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        • #5
          Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

          I have a Dodge mini-van which allows me to put a full 4 x8 sheet, with the seats folded and I can stack 10 ft stock if I position it between the front seats.

          For my wife and I, a minivan was a joint decision and although no one else in the family can comprehend why just the two of us need such a vehicle, we rarely have the challenge of how to get things home... so, something to think about.

          But for now, you may well consider just renting yourself a truck or having a delivery made. Most lumber yards will deliver and I have one that is fairly close that will do so... but their price is sort of high, so you want to make sure your purchase is large enough to make it worth while.

          I know Home Depot will rent you thier truck for about $20 an hour. I'm not sure about Lowes.

          I don't know about a trailer. First you have to have your vehicle fitted (if you're going to do it properly) and then you're going to have to buy a trailer. Both are considerable expenses for the occasional use. You can probably rent a truck quite a few times for that investment.

          CWS

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          • #6
            Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

            I've got a 2005 Mustang GT and, believe it or not, it fits a considerable amount of wood in it. With the seats down, I can fit a good number of 8' lumber and still close the trunk. With the trunk open, I've hung out up to 12' stock.

            I've even slipped in a sheet of 3/4" 8x4' ply (I only needed 3' wide for my project, however, so I ripped it in the parking lot with my portable circular saw).

            It's not ideal, but it works. Every now and then I like to build a nice big list of lumber and have it delivered; the more you can have delivered at a time, the more you save on delivery charges.

            If I had another car, I'd definitely put a trailer hitch on it and also one of those removable roof racks, but I can't bring myself to do that to my stang I hate loading anything in it, really, but it's got a decent cargo capacity for a sports car (since it's a fairly big car). You can likely find a cheap trailer, or build one fairly inexpensively.

            My wife gave birth to a little girl last weekend, so I expect we'll likely have another larger vehicle soon; ultimately that's best, imo. Many mini-vans will fit a several sheets of ply or drywall in it and still close the rear door.

            --Jeff

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            • #7
              Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

              Jeff,

              Congratulations on the new baby daughter!!!

              She certainly sounds like a wonderful reason to go look at a minivan. You will be surprised at how much space taking the baby somewhere will require and surely you don't want to fill the Mustang up with diaper bags, formula, and various pieces of her favorite furnishings and toys!

              CWS
              Last edited by CWSmith; 09-08-2009, 04:43 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

                Originally posted by cpw View Post
                What kind of car do you have? I had a $20 rack from amazon on my Nissan Sentra and could get plywood or 12' long boards up there. You'll only be able to get 2-3 sheets of plywood before you hit 200 lbs, but that is enough for a lot of projects.

                I have a BMW 330Ci, it actually has built in mounting points for a roof rack and Thule makes one that goes on and off of the car pretty quickly. I had actually pretty much ruled out a roof rack because I was thinking that with the car being pretty small, the boards would overhang so far at both ends as to make it awkward and unstable. The sentra is definitely smaller than my car, so if it worked for you, I'm sure it would work for me too. I may look more seriously into that. A utility trailer would give me a bit more flexibility in the types of items that I could carry, but it does sound like a roof rack is better suited to actually carrying lumber which would be one of my primary uses for it. Thanks for the tips guys.

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                • #9
                  Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

                  Here is a couple ways not to do it. If you need larger loads the big box stores do rent a truck you can use to get it home with.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

                    Never used this, but saw it last week perusing the site and thought it was neat.

                    Might work for ya. Not for plywood, though.

                    http://www.hartvilletool.com/product/10867

                    A mounted roof rack is the way to go, overall. I have a small SUV (Toyota Highlander) and regularly move very loads of boards (couple dozen board-feet, 8-footers) by laying down the back seats. But, for plywood I built a removable roof-rack Rack. I can put up to three 3/4" on there without worry. It's just made out of 2x4's and took about an hour to make. I found the plan in a reader submitted tip in Wood magazine, IIRC.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

                      Originally posted by SewerRatz View Post
                      Here is a couple ways not to do it. If you need larger loads the big box stores do rent a truck you can use to get it home with.
                      Oh man... both of those pictures are SO wrong!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

                        Originally posted by CWSmith View Post
                        I have a Dodge mini-van which allows me to put a full 4 x8 sheet, with the seats folded and I can stack 10 ft stock if I position it between the front seats.

                        For my wife and I, a minivan was a joint decision and although no one else in the family can comprehend why just the two of us need such a vehicle, we rarely have the challenge of how to get things home... so, something to think about.

                        But for now, you may well consider just renting yourself a truck or having a delivery made. Most lumber yards will deliver and I have one that is fairly close that will do so... but their price is sort of high, so you want to make sure your purchase is large enough to make it worth while.

                        I know Home Depot will rent you thier truck for about $20 an hour. I'm not sure about Lowes.

                        I don't know about a trailer. First you have to have your vehicle fitted (if you're going to do it properly) and then you're going to have to buy a trailer. Both are considerable expenses for the occasional use. You can probably rent a truck quite a few times for that investment.

                        CWS
                        My Hitch cost about $90 and about an hour to install, the plug in wiring harness cost $15.00 and 10 minutes to plug in, the trailer cost $500 and I use it for more than hauling wood. Total investment $605....cost to rent a truck for 1 day, $250.00 Priceless....and I still own it all, the trailer hauls my firewood, my ATV and my wood working supplies...

                        DP

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                        • #13
                          Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

                          DP,

                          Thanks for the info... I did say "I didn't know"

                          But still, at $605, I could rent the HD truck thirty times (they only charge $20 an hour), which would cover me for two or three years, if I rented it once a month for an hour (which is all many of us would need to get to and from our local HD... my local lumber yard has a smaller surcharge to deliver). Some may not need it nearly that much, in which case the amorization of cost would not see benefit for several years. Many of course would have other uses for the tailer, but then some may not. You also have to have a place to store the trailer when not in use, which may be a problem in some neighborhoods.

                          Bottom line, is that a trailer is definitely worth thinking about and if one has the need, it is a worthwhile investment. For others, the advantage may simply be to rent the truck. Point is to not rush off without giving it some thought.

                          Thanks again, at least now I have an idea of the cost. (But you forgot to tell me how much the license and insurance costs each year.)



                          CWS
                          Last edited by CWSmith; 09-08-2009, 05:48 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

                            CWS,

                            to Lic the trailer cost me about $90 for a lifetime license plate, we don't license trailer by the year here in Montana so as long as I own the trailer and continue to live in Montana, the trailer is licensed, so we will bump the cost up to $695

                            Of course, I don't live in a neighborhood, I live in the NW area of Montana where we have about a mile between each of our homes...

                            Anyway, it is up to the individual, I was just offering what has worked for me for the last few years.

                            Dp

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Transporting lumber home without a truck

                              Originally posted by Wood_Junkie View Post
                              Never used this, but saw it last week perusing the site and thought it was neat.

                              Might work for ya. Not for plywood, though.

                              http://www.hartvilletool.com/product/10867

                              A mounted roof rack is the way to go, overall. I have a small SUV (Toyota Highlander) and regularly move very loads of boards (couple dozen board-feet, 8-footers) by laying down the back seats. But, for plywood I built a removable roof-rack Rack. I can put up to three 3/4" on there without worry. It's just made out of 2x4's and took about an hour to make. I found the plan in a reader submitted tip in Wood magazine, IIRC.

                              That's actually really cool. I had to give up my truck when my son was born to get my wife a more reliable car. This is the first time in my life I have ever driven a car! When I was 15 I got an old truck practically for free and took auto shop and by time I had my license it was running. I have owned five trucks since then.

                              I have put six 2*12's in the back window out the passenger window and tied them to the mirror. It's so ghetto but it worked.

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