Drying Lumber

  • May 17, 2020 9:28 AM
    Message # 8974721

    I bought some 12/4 cherry yesterday with the intention of cutting off quartersawn 1 x 3's for cabinet stiles and rails. The wood was milled a month ago and I would like to start the project before 2023.  Is there a downside to slicing it up into 1 x 3's now, so they will be ready next year?

  • May 18, 2020 6:30 AM
    Reply # 8976743 on 8974721


    It's best to leave the pieces as cut, the drying process will move the wood in ways you'd never imagine. Stack with stickers between each layer, and at least 6" off the ground or floor. If stacked inside, no need to cover, let the air flow. Outside stacking needs to be covered and enclosed to prevent weathering, but ventilation is key.

    You may also want to paint the ends of each board with a brush on oil based paint. This will slow the evaporation loss of moisture from end grain that can create unnessary checking.

    After a year or so the boards should be checked for moisture content and ready to use. If you haven't worked with air dried lumber you're going to enjoy the experience.

    After the 2008 Ice Storm I had a 1000 board feet of Red Oak and 600 board feet of Maple sawed from down trees in my yard. I stacked in a storage area in my basement. Still have much of it on hand and enjoy using.


    Jim Allen

  • May 18, 2020 8:43 AM
    Reply # 8976863 on 8974721
    keep it as is until you get through the initial drying stage. Sticker it so it keeps flat,  ends painted and outside but out of direct sunlight.  If memory serves the initial drying stage is pretty dramatic from a moisture stand point. 

    check it for moisture now, then in a few months check it again. (correct for temperature) once it is stable, consider moving it to the garage for a while, then the basement/shop

    check out the US forest products services website. It's fairly technical reading and aimed more at commercial operations, but worth while.  

    I really like the "wood doctor's" articles by  Gene Wengart (last name may not be spelled right) 

  • May 18, 2020 10:45 AM
    Reply # 8977066 on 8974721
    Jim Tartaglia (Administrator)


    I have logged, milled, and air dried lots of native cherry lumber in years past.  The soonest you will be able to use it is late winter, probably February.  Right now you should sticker it out of the weather until Fall heating season, around early November.  Painting the ends with any kind of paint is a good idea too.  Next get it inside to a heated space.  Before I had a heated shop I used to sneak boards stickered up under the bed, behind the couch, etc.  When you bring it inside you can rough cut it to 4 quarter to speed up drying but leave it oversize as it will still move plenty.  If you can rough cut it to length that will help a lot.  Several months in a heated space should get it down to 6 to 8% moisture content which is what you want.  A moisture meter with little pins you stick into the wood is only good for boards up to 4 quarter thick.

    Good luck,


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