This article extends understandings of "shadow economies"-networked, economic exchanges outside formal state regulation-and specifically how they are socially, economically and politically nested within frontier landscapes. The article analyses two related commodities that are often cast differently upon the legality spectrum: timber and cassava. By comparing the actors, relationships and practices that facilitate timber and cassava trade across the Cambodia-Vietnam border, two significant points of connection are identified: border checkpoints and land transactions, both through state actors. The analysis therefore exposes the systemic role of state actors in shadow economies and broader processes of frontier commodification, supported by their regulatory mandate. Methodologically, the study illustrates how examining relationships between commodities can help to illuminate the mechanisms, relationships and ambiguities of shadow economies operating in resource frontiers in border areas.