What is the Best Way to Stack and Dry Lumber?
Air-drying is a low-tech, low-cost and an easy way to dry lumber. Many woodworkers have confirmed that air-drying is the most economical and easiest method that assists in removing water from wood and offering it the truest colour.
As compared to kiln-dried boards gotten from your lumber retailer, air-drying will save you at least half the cost of doing the former. However, drying lumber requires effort, time, the know-how and space to stack and store.
When you do not stack your lumber properly, it twists, warps and decays. This makes it pertinent to have the perfect knowledge of how to stack and dry lumber.
Below are the best ways to stack and dry lumber.
Use good quality stickers
Stickers ensure that gaps are created between the layers of the wood. The gaps allow the free flow of air through the stack.
Your stickers should be made from dried wood. They should be strong so that they can be reused several times. The width of the stickers should be slightly longer than that of the stack. The sticker below should be placed directly in line with the one on top as this will create a vertical column for the transfer of all the weight of the stack to the foundation.
Seal the ends
You are less likely to experience splitting at the ends when you seal the ends after the cut. This splitting at the ends occurs because moisture escapes through the end grain than the side grain. This causes a shrinking of the board at a more rapid rate. This splitting causes shrinking.
To avoid this, apply a liberal application of end grain sealer or coat the ends with latex paint.
Store boards vertically
Storing boards vertically until the moisture content falls to 20—22% will prevent sticker stains. Sticker stains happen when excess moisture is trapped between the sticker and the boards and this can cause mold and discolouration.
Using stickers from a white wood species or the ones that have been dried would not give you the problem of sticker staining.
Scratch off the sawdust
Ensure that you remove any sawdust which can pose health hazards when it stains the wood. This will occur because it holds moisture against the boards and encourages mold.
Run a dehumidifier
Dehumidify during this period to scrap the moisture out of the boards and attract the water. Not doing this will cause excessive moisture to build up in the room. This can be controlled by having a stationery fan installed in front of the lumber.
Check moisture level periodically
You should be ready to stack and sticker the wood at 20-22%. This point shows that you are safe from sticker staining and mold.
Study the wood closely to see how the moisture reduces. Check this in several locations throughout the stack. If you spot extreme unevenness, relocate the fan to such a point.
Keep a fan circulating
A fan should be stationed to circulate the pile until the desired moisture content has been reached. A circulating fan will accelerate the drying of the lumber as long as the air temperature is above freezing.
Prepare a good foundation
Ensure that you level the foundation of the stack and provide a slight drainage slope. The foundation for outdoor drying should be at least 18-in high. To create a flat foundation, the cement blocks should be leveled and a vapor barrier should be put down if the ground is damp.
Stack the lumber in an area where it can stay for a long period. This should be done after it has reached 20% moisture content.
Drying lumber is not only easy and economical, but it also gives you more freedom of choice. Following the steps above will guide you on the best way to stack and dry lumber.
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