14 Ways to Score Free Wood (Build Even if You’re Broke!)

Looking to save money on your next woodworking project? Check out these 14 ways to score free wood and get building even if you’re broke!

Pile of pine 1×4 boards

Nothing compares to the satisfaction of building with your hands. But let’s face it. Wood is expensive! It’s easy to feel stuck, wondering how you’ll ever bring your woodworking dreams to reality. Don’t let a tight budget keep you from your passion – I’m sharing 14 ways to get your hands on free wood without spending a dime!

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1. Construction Sites

I belong to several Facebook woodworking groups, and I frequently see members raving about how much free wood they’ve scored at construction sites!

Construction area sign in the foreground with a pile of wood in the background

Worksites often have leftover wood from tearing down an old structure or cutting new lumber and plywood to size. Old wood isn’t worth their time to repurpose, and often the cutoffs are too small for them to use, but they can be perfect for building your DIY projects.

The best part is that construction sites are often willing to give this lumber away for free, so they don’t have to pay to dispose of it.

Remember, like your home, building sites are private property, so it’s important to ask permission before taking anything or diving into their dumpsters. After all, you wouldn’t want someone stealing wood from your shop!

Construction workers are often more than happy to let you take lumber off their hands that would usually end up in a landfill, and if you get to know them, they may set it aside in a pile for you.

2. Old Furniture

You’d be surprised by how much usable wood there is in many furniture pieces, even ones that may look beyond saving. The drawers, legs, table tops, and the sides of dressers and old cabinets are a great source of wood for your projects.

Watch the curbside, and you may find some great free wood. People often put out old furniture and other materials they no longer want. Take a look around your neighborhood for an old dresser, bookshelf, or headboard that you could repurpose for your project.

Here are some additional tips for finding free wood at the curbside:

  • Look for homes with for sale signs. People often get rid of old furniture and other items when preparing to move.
  • Check on trash day when people are most likely to put out their unwanted items.
  • Watch for garage sales. People frequently put furniture out for free that didn’t sell.

Also, check with family and friends to see if you know anyone with an old piece of furniture they’re getting rid of. It never hurts to ask!

Working with wood from furniture has several drawbacks, such as you’ll have to dismantle it and strip or sand any old finish before you start building.

Related: Best Sanders for Furniture (Which One to Buy & Why)

But with a bit of effort, you can find some great free wood that you can use to create your next project.

3. Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is another great option for finding free wood. People post items they’re trying to get rid of, and you can often find lumber or scrap pieces that you can use for your projects.

Screenshot of Facebook Marketplace search for free wood

I recently had someone knock on my door asking where he could find the “free wood and fence panels” he found on Marketplace. I didn’t post an ad, and I’m too selfish to give up any of my wood, so I told him he was at the wrong place!

At first, I thought my cantankerous neighbor was playing a joke on me, listing my home as a source of free wood. But after finding the ad on Marketplace, I discovered he needed to be about 30 miles away in a different town. But I wish I had spotted that ad. I could have used those free fence panels!

4. Craigslist and Other Online Marketplaces

Like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and other online marketplaces, such as freecycle.org and buynothingproject.org, can be a great sources of free wood. You can find people giving away free lumber, scrap wood, fence panels, and more.

Screenshot of Craigslist search for free wood

To find free wood on Craigslist, search for “free wood” in your local area. You can also place your own want ad, saying you’re looking for free wood or willing to trade something you may no longer need.

When you’re looking on Craigslist, inspect the wood carefully before you take it, ensuring it’s dry and free of pests.

Here are some tips when searching online marketplaces:

  • Be patient. It may take some time to find the perfect materials for your project.
  • Be prepared to act quickly. Good deals go fast.
  • Contact the seller immediately after seeing a listing you’re interested in.
  • Be flexible with your schedule. You may need to pick up the wood at the seller’s convenience.

With a little searching, you can find free wood on Craigslist and other online marketplaces that’s perfect for your needs.

5. Friends and Family

Sometimes your friends and family can be a great source of free wood. Ask if anyone has leftover lumber from doing a renovation, building an addition, or a deck they might be willing to give you.

6. Other Woodworkers

Reach out to other woodworkers – they’re often willing to part with scrap pieces or leftover lumber from their projects. You might be able to work out a swap if you have some tools or supplies that interest them.

7. Habitat for Humanity Restore

Salvage stores like the Habitat for Humanity Restore are a great place to find bargains, but sometimes you can also find free wood for your projects.

I used to volunteer at my local Restore, and I hate to admit, sometimes they would throw away usable wood and supplies if they had been on the showroom floor for too long. However, they would save the better quality materials for the person they affectionately called “the wood man.” The wood man would come once a week to pick up any scrap wood or other materials we had set aside for him.

I recommend frequenting your local Restore and befriending their staff. They may set aside some free wood for you, too!

8. Tree Trimming Services

Tree trimming services often have leftover wood from trees they cut down, and sometimes they will let you take a few scraps off their hands.

Tree services can be an excellent source for live edge cookies, slabs from trees that still have the bark and the natural shape of the tree. You can make them into unique projects such as tables, signs, or accent pieces for your home.

9. Cabinet Makers

I mentioned earlier that I belong to a few Facebook woodworking groups, and just like construction sites, members frequently post that cabinet makers are another great source of free wood.

Cabinet makers usually end up with leftover lumber from their projects, which is often too small to use. As a result, they may have to pay to dispose of these pieces, so they might be glad to have you take them off their hands.

You can find cabinet makers in your area by searching online or asking around. Once you have found a few, contact them and ask if they have any scraps they might be willing to give away.

Here are some tips for getting free wood from cabinet makers:

  • Be friendly and polite.
  • Be flexible and work around their schedule.
  • Be prepared to take the wood away immediately.

You can easily find free wood from cabinet makers with little effort, which is a great way to save money on your next woodworking project.

10. Old Barns

Old barns are a great source of free wood. They often have large beams and sturdy boards that you can use for various projects. If you are looking for free wood for your next woodworking project, an old barn may be a good option.

Related: Where to Buy Barn Wood

Closeup of an old barn with peeling paint and wood siding falling off
Photo Credit: Diana Petrillo

Here are some tips for finding old barns that may have free wood:

  • Look for abandoned barns. These barns are often in disrepair, and the owners may be willing to give away the wood for free.
  • Check with local farmers. Many farmers have old barns that may be willing to let you have the wood from.

Working with reclaimed lumber has some drawbacks. It might be moldy, saturated with chemicals or pesticides, or coated with lead-based paint. Milling and cutting this lumber can cause these contaminants to become airborne, which may harm your lungs.

Barn wood might be soaked with mouse urine and droppings, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, can contain dangerous viruses.

Old lumber may contain wood-boring insects such as powder post beetles and termites, which can damage your home.

Barn wood may also have rusty nails, which can seriously damage your hands and saw blades. So if you use reclaimed wood, wear gloves when transporting it and carefully inspect it before cutting it.

I recommend weighing the pros and cons before you begin working with barn wood.

11. Wood Pallets

If you’re looking for free wood, pallets could be an excellent option. They are often discarded after being used to transport goods, and you can usually find free pallets at businesses, such as grocery stores, warehouses, and construction areas.

Pile of wood pallets next to a building

Before using pallets for woodworking projects, inspecting them for safety hazards is important. Pallets, like barn wood, may be contaminated with chemicals and mouse urine, which can be hazardous to your health. I recommend passing if you are unsure about the pallet’s safety.

Related: Building with Pallets Has Pros and Cons

Once you’ve found some pallets that are safe to use, you’ll need to break them down, which can be a bit of a challenge. There are many ways to disassemble a pallet, but the most common method is to use a pry bar or specialized pallet buster tool to pry the boards loose.

Another drawback to building with pallets is that the boards are usually short and may require you to get creative when designing your project.

12. Cull Lumber from Home Improvement/Hardware Stores

Cull lumber is wood discarded from a home improvement or hardware store’s inventory due to defects. These defects can include knots, splits, warping, and other imperfections.

Cart of cull lumber at a home improvement store

Cull lumber is often sold at a discounted price, making it an excellent option for budget-minded woodworkers. You’ll often see cull lumber at the front of the store or on an end cap, but in the Facebook woodworking groups that I belong to, members say the free cull lumber is “around back.”

I’m unfamiliar with this secret location, but I’m also an introvert, so I only talk when it’s absolutely necessary! However, I suggest chatting with an employee to see if there’s a secret stash of cull lumber so that you can take advantage of this free wood resource.

UPDATE: I had never seen free wood at my local Home Depot when I first wrote this article. However, on my most recent trip, I was surprised to see a large pile sitting right in front of the store! There was also an empty cart next to the pile, which I realized meant I had missed out on even more wood.

Pile of wood with a sign marked free in front of a Home Depot store

13. Flooring Installers

Like construction sites and cabinet makers, flooring installers may have leftover wood they may be willing to give away. This wood may be scraps from their projects or damaged pieces they cannot use.

The advantage of using wood from a flooring installer is they frequently work with hardwoods such as oak, walnut, cherry, and maple. These wood types are more durable and usually more expensive than other species, so getting them for free is a great way to save money on your next project.

However, there are several drawbacks. The width of flooring material is usually narrow, and the pieces might be prefinished with polyurethane or another sealer, so you’ll need to sand it before starting your project.

Still, if you can find some flooring scraps or leftovers that meet your needs, it can be a great way to get quality wood for free.

14. Scrap Wood Pile

And finally, don’t forget your own scrap wood pile! When working on a new project, I always check my scrap collection first. I often find that I can build small projects with the wood I already have in my shop.

Related: How to Decide What Scrap Wood to Keep

Final Thoughts

You can easily find free wood for your next woodworking project with a little effort. While some may have defects and require more preparation time, the savings in cost can make it worth the effort. I encourage you to consider all the above sources before spending money on lumber for your projects.

Thank you for stopping by. If you enjoyed this tutorial, would you please take a moment and pin it to Pinterest? I’d really appreciate it!

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One Comment

  1. Auto-glass shops go through an *enormous* amount of wood pallets which are normally heat treated and safe to reuse. Best of all, they are usually quite long and free to go because they have to pay to get rid of them.
    I clad my workshop interior and exterior with these.
    Downside is the wood is not the best quality.


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