Looking for Tips on Buying/Storing Green Wood

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Forum topic by avsmusic1 posted 02-04-2017 11:21 PM 1175 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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671 posts in 1597 days

02-04-2017 11:21 PM

Hello all

I’m a hobbyist planning to buy a full log of wood from a local guy who runs a tree service and has a woodmizer. As you might suspect, my intent is basically to “stock up” a bit for future projects while saving some money per bd ft compared to the prices at my local lumber retailers. I’m hoping you fine folks may be able to help guide me on how to store the wood given some situational constraints, and perhaps suggest how you would have the log milled. More likely than not the wood I’ll get will be sugar maple or white oak as good size logs are plentiful in either here in the northeast. If I do get white oak I will probably have it quarter sawn.

First, where to store it: Realistically, I have two options on where to store the wood while it dries and I could use either in “phases” if needed
1. Garage (workshop)
Pros: I have the space, it’s easier to access/stack, and it’s where my other (dry) wood is already
Cons: It’s where my machinery is located and I’ve heard that storing green lumber turns a space into a rainforest of sorts and will rust metals like tablesaw tops. Also, it’s a detached garage w/out direct electrical so setting up a fan or dehumidifier means using an extension cord.

2. Basement (not heated)
Pros: Electricity- a dehumidifier and/or fan when either becomes appropriate
Cons: While I technically have the space it’s at more of a premium

Second – what type of dimensions would you have it milled to? Most of what I make is furniture type projects and I tend to favor a chunkier look. My initial inclination was a mix of 5/4 through 8/4. I’m probably looking at ~200 bd ft in ~10’ lengths. If I get QSWO then the max width isn’t really something I need to specific but if maple I’ll probably specific max width of 12” b/c my planer only goes to 13”

Any guidance is much appreciated gents. Thanks in advance!

15 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1815 posts in 3771 days

#1 posted 02-05-2017 12:58 AM

Both the locations you’ve listed are problematic.

One of the primary requirements for air drying green lumber is to have plenty of actual air flow through the stack of lumber. The air flow transports the moisture away from the surface of the lumber and as the outer portion of the lumber begins to dry the internal moisture begins to migrate towards the surface.

Ideally for many types of green lumber you need to have an open but sheltered drying space which allows air movement through the stacked lumber. You must of course use spacers, known as stickers, to provide space between the layers of lumber for the air flow. You want to shelter the stack from direct exposure to sunlight and rain. Many people use old metal roofing material to cover the top of the stack.

Both of the locations you’ve discussed using will present major problems with minimal air flow and maximum trapping of moisture. This will lead to fungus growth and rot.

Another thing to considered is the type of wood being dried. Some dry much easier that other with far less problems. Your mentioning white oak is why I brought this up. Oak in general and white oak in particular needs to be dried slowly to minimize surface checking which can ruin your wood.

With all that said, this can be a good way to get useable lumber and save some money.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

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1 post in 1567 days

#2 posted 02-05-2017 02:09 AM

Hi, My name is SP2, I’m a wood hoarder, unable to control my self, powerless against the voices of grain. This is the best I can offer:

Don’t waste your time with the processing of found wood if you are most interested in the finished projects. You will find enough stock consistent in size, quality, and good enough to build high quality projects without the delays and work you need to do to get perfect lumber to get perfect projects. Find sellers (beforehand, not on the day you need the wood) tell them about what you want, let them tell you what they have, what they think is the best wood they have. Buy only the best wood.

Woods processed on band mills are notorious for taper, inconsistent width and take lots more ripping and planning than expected. You will waste lots of time and end up with shitwood. (Every bandmill operator thinks they have a gold mine and overcharge you. Think. Black Walnut 8/4 is available, air dried or kiln dried for less than $10/ bd/ft. With no wane, splits, warp, or rot. Never pay more than one fifth, of the retail cost of lumber from a high quality dealer. Never more than $2/bf for wood from an amateur.

If you insist on buying green lumber do this. Take only perfect boards, don’t buy any waste, ever. 8/4 or more, wider is better and you will have enough time to dry it properly. 4/4 is not worth the time. effort and losses and most 4/4 is marginally dry already and then only proper stacking is needed.

8/4 or better. Wax the ends with anchor seal, 2 coats minimum, all end grain or any grain runout, knots, figure or features you want to keep. Anything to be turned should be waxed all around. On the day its cut, wax every new
cut. After a few days the wood is already cracked, trim and seal.

Never store fresh cut lumber in heated storage, never. Outdoors, or in unheated storage under cover, stickers 1×1 5 each 8’ layer, 4’ wide. Stack as many layers as you have. Place waterproof covering over but leave sides and bottom open to the air. No direct sun, small sections 2’ or less around sides and ends (house wrap/Tyvek, etc.) Cover it all again with metal siding, truck hoods, sheet goods. Protect the top. on top of all this place as many pounds of weight to hold the boards from cupping. (On short stacks I have used ratchet straps – 4 or more for a pile. Keep straps tight. Restack at least once during drying.)

Be patient. Like glacier patient. Years not months. That said- after green lumber has dried one full summer season you should be able to check moisture. Use the 0.00 gram scale you used to use to sell dope. Weigh before and after 72 hours of incubation at 37deg. C. Use the calculations from the wood book. If it is less than 15% you should have no trouble with small projects, 11% has always worked for me, glued and mitered stock included. Turned bowls take special attention.

If it is not all about the projects, if you like handling the chainsaw, love sawing, stacking, planing, and handling wood in all forms. If its OK that you might get some wood good enough for projects then you can really enjoy the whole process. Driven by the end result—projects you will be disappointed. Thrill of handling of the wood, doin’ stuff to it. Knock your self out.

Find species you really like. For me its carving woods -basswood and butternut. Figured and underutilized species—American hop hornbeam, red elm, wild cherry, black cherry, aspen, yellow birch, northern white cedar. QSWO, QSRO and figured soft and hard maple are especially fun. In northern WI they are available in single logs, or yard trees (wood with a story is fun to have) and we have enough saw rigs you can usually get a saw job done quick and cheap. I did buy a couple logs last week that I’ll saw at the guy’s farm in a few months (when there is less than a foot of snow in the woods). That’s fun, interesting and you’ll impress you family and friends (not). PM me if you’d like more of my obtuse views. S

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359 posts in 4630 days

#3 posted 02-05-2017 02:18 AM

You may wish to check Dr. Gene Wengert, Professor Emeritus in Wood Processing, Department of Forestry, at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) aka “The Wood Doctor” and his articles on the involving wood drying.

-- Wuddoc

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671 posts in 1597 days

#4 posted 02-05-2017 03:16 AM

Thanks for the replies gents. I appreciate the perspectives and I will dig deeper in the reference material tomorrow. Also, I should have noted that I have every intention of stickering – already have some spare 3/4” but will produce more. I also plan to seal the ends and certain places on the face of the boards like knots, but I don’t currently turn.

I wish I had the land to stack outside but unfortunately that’s not the case – I’m trapped in suburbia for the time being so, unfortunately, the two scenarios I noted initially are really the only viable setups I have to work with. I recognize neither is ideal but I’m hoping one can work.

Interesting thought on the bandsaw mill. Honestly this is the first negative thing I have come across on them.

What about the basement running a dehumidifier intermittently? Maybe only at night or something like that? The would produce a minimal amount of air movement but also should eliminate the risk of fungus/mold.

View fuigb's profile


583 posts in 3869 days

#5 posted 02-05-2017 02:37 PM

@OP – I recommend using your garage, but swallow hard and run electricity to support a fan for air circulation.

Something else: don’t pay much if anything for this lumber. Lot’s can /will go wrong with homegrown so avoid paying for what could end up being expensive shavings and firewood. Cinder blocks or bags of sand or Portland cement to weight down the stack and fight warpage are also recommended.

Lastly, keep in mind that with air drying you’re channeling something like savings bond investments: molasses slow and no discernible return for a long time.

Whatever you do please keep with it and periodically report back the good and bad: n ewbs and old hands alike will appreciate the data.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

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671 posts in 1597 days

#6 posted 02-05-2017 09:20 PM

Thanks fuigb

I had read that wood loses water at an accelerated pace in the early months – basically the amount of moisture that will come out in any given increment of time will decrease exponentially. This seems logical to me so initially my thought was to drop the wood in the garage with a fan running intermittently for the first couple of months to keep it from drying too quickly up front during the phase where it wants to dry faster. Then I would transfer it to my basement where the dehumidifier runs intermittently (could bee run less often if needed), I could eventually introduce a fan, and could even use my space heater way down the road to finish it off. I then ran into someone noting the rust issue I outlined in my initial post though and immediately had second thoughts about starting in the garage.

By the way, I’m going into this expecting it to take a year per inch to air dry so if I get 8/4 or maybe even a little 10/4 I would be doing so expecting not to touch it for 2+ years.

Thanks guys – keep the input/insights coming

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671 posts in 1597 days

#7 posted 02-05-2017 09:22 PM

one more quick note – I have to assume I’m not the first person to be in this situation and it seems as though others are basement drying with success (Matt Cremona comes to mind) so it seems like it must be doable – just a matter of figuring out the right approach

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671 posts in 1597 days

#8 posted 02-06-2017 01:28 PM

You may wish to check Dr. Gene Wengert, Professor Emeritus in Wood Processing, Department of Forestry, at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) aka “The Wood Doctor” and his articles on the involving wood drying.

- wuddoc

Thanks for sharing this Wuddoc – it’s not a site I had come across previously when researching this topic and it’s been really interesting/helpful to read through. Perhaps the most interesting to me was the doc noting several times that air drying beyond 180 days only leads to a degradation in the wood quality – depending on thickness and weather conditions. I take this more as a level of confirmation around my earlier note about the rate of frying in the first few months than something that would impact how quickly I would ever try and use the wood.

I definitely see more reading in my future on that site though. Thanks again

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449 posts in 2048 days

#9 posted 02-06-2017 06:31 PM

After a PPB outbreak in a stack of soft maple, all the wood I pick up that’s green or air dried goes in the barn or outside to dry. How fast it dries, depends on relative humidity and the time of year it is cut. I had a stack of ash & maple cut in April that was air dried to 12% by July. If you cut in fall, it can take a lot longer to dry.

Before I move it into the shop, I finish drying it and cooking off any bugs in it in my cargo trailer. Since the trailer is black, it’s acts like a solar kiln. If it’s 70F+ out, I can get it up to 140F in there. I sticker the wood in the trailer, use a milk heater which keeps it about 120F, a fan for circulation and a dehumidifier. I can get from 12% to 6-8% in 2-3 days.

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671 posts in 1597 days

#10 posted 02-06-2017 10:03 PM

Clammy – appreciate you sharing your experience here. Is it safe to assume your barn is closed on Ann sides? I know a few guys in my area that have dried in barns for years w/out issue (aside from slower drying) so I can’t help but wonder how critical it is to have sustained air, heat, or dehumidification. Sure it’s not ideal, but it didn’t turn their wood to junk

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185 posts in 2504 days

#11 posted 02-07-2017 08:40 AM

Being on a tight budget. I enjoy rolling the dice a bit.

Definitely enjoy the ability to cut my own lumber using my homemade electric chainsaw mill as well as my rancher 450 with a granberg mill. I recommend milling thick. 8/4. I have had some success with oversized 4/4 milled a few months later. Some checking but in the end it only cost me some bar oil and time. Mostly oak.

Follow the recommend methods above. If the price is right/cheap, I’d say store it in the basement with a heater. That should decrease the relative humidity and move the air nicely. Just keep the heater from direct contact with the wood or other flammable things just in case. It’s working for me so far.

-- Travis, Virginia,

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1088 posts in 2131 days

#12 posted 02-10-2017 06:51 PM

bandmill shitwood comes from a bandmill shitoperator-not the mill.

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379 posts in 1797 days

#13 posted 02-10-2017 07:44 PM

I have done what you are considering many times. Last load I bought was 2000 bf of walnut and cherry, I paid $.80/bf. That’s 80 cents/bf. took two trips with my 18 foot flatbed trailer to get it all home. I stickered it in the open end of my stable. It sat for 3 years before I used any of it. It’s now 10 years old. I’ve used about half of it. I always have several “generations” of such lumber in the pipeline. After it’s dried outside, I move it into the shop which is A/C and heated where it continues to dry for several months before use.

You should stack it outside behind the garage, cover it as already described. Do not put it in either building for at least a year. Rule of thumb is one year per inch of thickness before it’s reached equilibrium.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

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671 posts in 1597 days

#14 posted 02-11-2017 02:14 AM

You should stack it outside behind the garage, cover it as already described. Do not put it in either building for at least a year. Rule of thumb is one year per inch of thickness before it s reached equilibrium.

- sawdustdad

I wish I could. Unfortunately, there isn’t room. My garage is up against shrubs and a fence. I suppose I could make the stack no 2’ in width and potentially fit it, but my garage roof would pour rain water down on it and it wouldn’t get much consistent wind. You’ve never had luck indoors?

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671 posts in 1597 days

#15 posted 02-11-2017 03:21 AM

Last load I bought was 2000 bf of walnut and cherry, I paid $.80/bf. That s 80 cents/bf.
- sawdustdad

Man o man – it would cost me nearly that much to kiln dry lumber in my area.

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