Moving soon, how should I protect my lumber?

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Forum topic by LucasWoods posted 08-07-2018 05:40 AM 1037 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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448 posts in 1940 days

08-07-2018 05:40 AM

How do you all protect your lumber when moving?

My circumstances are that I am in the military and more than likely will have to have the movers pack my wood shop up along with the lumber I have collected. I don’t know much about how the goods will be stored except that it will be water tight and maybe climate controlled.

How would you all suggest I try get my lumber ready for storage or even pre stack it and wrap it with something?

-- Colorado Springs, CO - USAF

14 replies so far

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)


2247 posts in 2101 days

#1 posted 08-07-2018 10:33 AM

Moving wood as part of household move?

IMHO – Not usually a good idea. I have moved more hardwood lumber than I care to admit between several different homes.
Ask yourself this question:
Is stuff you will make from this wood, worth the money added in extra shipping/handling?

If you are taking about domestic woods that sell for $2-5 bdft, then I suggest it is probably not worth moving. It would be better to sell it via CL, and buy new later.

If you have some special figured or exotic boards worth $10+ bdft, then it might be worth moving, providing it meets sizing requirements, and can easily be ‘packed’ for move.

Still want to move wood, or know why moving wood is hard?
Here is what I learned:

- Home movers have great difficulty dealing with anything longer than 7 feet. Plus cost to pack/handle/transport goes sky high. Most use lift gates to load heavy items, which also means max width for easy loading is 8 feet width of the truck. Had one long distance mover tell me, cut boards shorter than 8ft or we won’t load it.

- If your move is within US, and stuff is heading into central warehouse storage; they typically pack everything into a standard storage box or ‘vault’ roughly 5×7x7 ft, held together with klimps. So again, length must be less 7ft, or unless you want wood stacked diagonally around other stuff to be warped/twisted/broken when it arrives at new location. These moving vaults are very common for military moves; as the vaults fit inside 8×8x40 sea going containers, or C-130 if you rank deserves it.

- Movers HATE handling lots of small odd shaped loose items as it takes too much time, plus they can injured with splinters. They will want to bundle wood as best they can. Best way to move large qty of wood (hundreds of bdft) is banded to special long pallet, usually with sheet of plywood on top/bottom to avoid damage from stacking. You have to make the pallet, or pay the moving company to make it.
For smaller quantities, use plastic stretch film to entirely wrap wood bundle. Need to protect wood from damage, as well protect boxes and other stuff in truck as well. If you bundle wood, just make sure weight is something 2 men can pick up and carry.

- Hiring a full service moving company to move wood costs a lot of money. I estimate I spent ~$1 bdft for a short distance move across town, $2-3bdft for cross country move. The moving cost is sneaky. Have to add up loading, transport weight, and unloading costs. If storage is involved, then can have multiple load/unload cycles. If you can stack/pallet wood so that it can be moved, loaded as a unit; costs are less.
For my last move, I stacked 400 bdft of 4/4 8ft cherry on top of a ~3×6 rolling work table, wrapped it with plastic shrink film; and rolled it on truck as single item about 7 foot tall via lift gate. Poor 4” casters were not happy, but was short distance, and cost to move lumber was much lower.

- Moving wood across state lines can be tricky. Many states/regions have (fire)wood transportation bans, due all the invasive insects/molds destroying local forests. Full service moving companies I have used will never accept firewood, due chance it could contaminate whole warehouse of wood furniture. So if your wood stock has not been kiln dried, or has ANY evidence of mold/insect damage; they will not move it with your household goods. The only way to move air dried or damaged wood is via commercial freight trucking, or DIY.

Enough about wood.
Packing and moving large power tools is major undertaking.

oops, Have already made this post too long. My apologies..
If you want pointers on how to pack large power tools, drop me note.
Thanks for reading.

Best Luck!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View Woodbum's profile


902 posts in 3672 days

#2 posted 08-07-2018 01:04 PM

Move it yourself. A lot of movers that we have used can tear up a cannonball in a sandbox.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View LittleShaver's profile


609 posts in 1226 days

#3 posted 08-07-2018 01:06 PM

Haven’t done a military move in 40 years, but I have done several (6) commercial moves paid for by others.
Check the rules for the move carefully. I recall one move where they specifically excluded lumber. Had to request and exception and explain many times that it was exotic hardwoods and not construction grade lumber. They finally relented, but it was a battle to save my mahogany stash.

Other moves are weight limited, under government contract work, the first 18,000 pounds is covered, but anything over is billed to me. Tools are heavy and mostly more expensive than wood, so they get priority. My last move had me cleaning out my wood stash and only moving some small bits of ebony and rosewood.

Another way to move your wood is to use it to build crates for your tools. I’ve also done this at every move, but each time I end up keeping the crates and buying fresh wood. To avoid weight and lifting issues, I usually put good casters and strong handles on my crates. I figure that if I make it easy on the movers, they’ll treat my stuff with greater care. The risk is that the movers are not responsible for damages to things “packed by owner”. If you go the crate route, pack tight and carefully, wrap tools in shop rags, and screw your crates shut. If you can hide the screws, even better. A hasp and lock setup on a wood crate is easy pickings for the dishonest. Multiple screws requires tools and effort, dishonest people seem to be tool-less and lazy.

All that being said, in 6 moves (all over 400 miles) I’ve only had to file one claim for damages.

-- Sawdust Maker

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2134 posts in 769 days

#4 posted 08-07-2018 01:17 PM

Lucas – Thank You for your Service !!

is this your first military move?
I did not read Klutz’s reply as it is just too long.
when I was in Cuba, I collected quite a bit of exotic woods and shipped it
to several duty stations before it finally got home.
(21 years in the US Navy, you collect quite a bit of “stuff” from all over the world).
your rank also dictates how much weight you can ship before having to pay the overage out of pocket.
depending on how much you have and how long will it be in transit is the question.
the main problem that the inspectors have is BUGS…. you need to discuss that with the carrier.
find out how big the shipping box is that the movers will use and go from there. . .
as said – the equipment has its own set of challenges.
and again – you have not said just what type and how much wood you have.
and where are you shipping from and where to ??

-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View jonah's profile


2092 posts in 3905 days

#5 posted 08-07-2018 01:56 PM

I wouldn’t bother moving anything but very expensive exotics. Even with the military paying for the move, trying to move a bunch of domestic hardwood will almost certainly be more trouble than it’s worth.

View pottz's profile


7696 posts in 1591 days

#6 posted 08-07-2018 04:41 PM

id have to go with klutz on this one,probably not worth the trouble.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View LucasWoods's profile


448 posts in 1940 days

#7 posted 08-07-2018 07:11 PM

The +side is that I don’t pay a cent to have any of the lumber moved and I got a lot of oak and red oak around from my grandpa after he passed that has sentimental value and I want to build some projects out of (I am not sure of when I will be moving so I may end up using my stash up) it will be a stateside to stateside move all done and paid for by the military. I am an E6 in the Air Force and I get 11,000 for my goods before i would have to pay for anything. My equipment and tools I would estimate is maybe 2,500lbs add in my wood it would be maybe 3,000lbs.

Yes I would love any tips on how to protect my table saw, Planer, benchtop droll press, router table, etc as I will for sure be moving these items.

-- Colorado Springs, CO - USAF

View pottz's profile


7696 posts in 1591 days

#8 posted 08-07-2018 07:28 PM

sounds like some very precious wood,move it or youll regret it build crates out of plywood secured to
pallets myself.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View BroncoBrian's profile


875 posts in 2565 days

#9 posted 08-07-2018 07:48 PM


Thanks for crushing it in the Air Force. I live just north of the AFA, love the area.

You will be fine. I’d try to get most of the wood somewhat uniform in size and wrap it. A few moving blankets around 100lb stacks (taped up) are easy for 2 people to pick up and set in a truck. The more uniform the stacks are, the easier to stack on top of each other. I might even error a bit wide, like 12” w x 6” high (if weight allows) so they stack easily.

The TS should be on a pallet if possible. Drill press and planer might go into furniture boxes, or just wrap them in blankets and tape them up. I would tear down the router table if possible.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View LucasWoods's profile


448 posts in 1940 days

#10 posted 08-07-2018 10:11 PM

I got my TS on a mobile base. Do you all think it still best to place on a pallet?

-- Colorado Springs, CO - USAF

View pottz's profile


7696 posts in 1591 days

#11 posted 08-07-2018 10:13 PM

i had a trucking company deliver a table saw once and when i got it home discovered they had dropped it and the top was cracked in half.protect it as best you can.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View jonah's profile


2092 posts in 3905 days

#12 posted 08-08-2018 01:20 PM

If possible, be there to supervise the loading of the tools. There’s no really good way to protect a table saw aside from crating it up.

If it’s a cabinet saw, I’d probably bolt it to a small pallet and tell the movers to bring a pallet jack.

Bench top tools are going to be much tougher to protect.

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)


2247 posts in 2101 days

#13 posted 08-08-2018 07:49 PM

Yes I would love any tips on how to protect my table saw, Planer, benchtop droll press, router table, etc as I will for sure be moving these items.
- LucasWoods

My recommendations:

Make crates for following tools: Table saw, jointer, bandsaw, and large planer.
Disassemble and box rest.
Table saw: remove extension wings, hand wheels, plastic parts like dust port, and any loose parts; then mount to custom made crate. Box up loose parts in small boxes to be placed in crate, or large box and ship separate.

Jointer: Separate the machine base and top cast iron assembly. Mount the cast iron head into a crate, with support blocks under the ends of tables. Machine base with motor located inside can be crated, or wrapped in cardboard or packing blankets if some minor scrape/dent are ok in your shop.

Planer: Lunch box planer, disassemble any parts protruding, and box it in a double wall box. Large planer, disassemble protruding parts like hand wheels, and crate it. If motor is mounted on top of 15” planer, best to remove it before crating, and strap into bottom of crate.

Drill Press: Large floor standing version: Disassemble head, table and base/post. Crate head, and table, base with post can be handled as is, or crated with rest.

Band saw: Must remove cast iron table, and pack it separately from machine. Trunions are not designed to hold cast iron top as it bounces around during move. Remove blade, and loose objects, pack separately in crate.

Router table: disassemble loose parts, box them up. Table can be blanket wrapped and handled like other furniture. If yours is rolling wood unit with drawers, need to unload drawers and pack contents separately.

Power hand tools should be well padded and boxed. Had parts of my router and belt sander collection disappear during different moves. Those Delta/Bosch plastic boxes seem to grow legs easily. I now pack up even plastic boxed power tools, and label all boxes ‘Fragile – nuts and bolts’. As it seems nobody wants to steal a stranger’s fragile nuts …..

Overall Tips for Moving tools:

- There are 5 methods of damage that need to be considered during a professional home move:
1- Vibration & hard knocks: Shock load of 10+g’s of force is normal from bumps from going down road. Plan for every tool will be dropped at least once.
2- Things damaged due weight of stuff stacked on top, maybe due all weight sitting on wrong spot while bouncing for 1000 miles.
3- Handling damage; due picking up a tool by a weak spot on machine (such as hand wheels, electrical boxes, or any protrusion), or scratches & dents due physical size and weight.
4- Water damage (it can rain during move…)
5- Theft

- Think about how you received the tool when new. Best if disassemble the tool same way it was received, assuming you properly pack all parts. Usually any part that can vibrate loose to then bounce around and cause damage, or any part that is mounted outside the machine envelope is packaged separately. If buy only old tools, most newer manuals show pictures for “what is in box”, the separate parts shown are probably easy damaged.

- Heavier and larger the tool, more likely it will be on bottom of pile in truck. Big and heavy (compared to big and light weight dining room chair) needs to be very well protected. Example – One move I found my naked radial arm saw under 1000 pounds of book boxes and heavy kitchen stuff. Arm and vertical post where bent. :(

- Packing heavy hand tools (IE hand planes, router bits, drill bits, etc) requires lots of heavy duty packing materials. Do not use peanuts and bubble wrap. Professional packing folks CAN do a great job with this stuff. But they typically wrap and pack as is. You have to watch them and help with disassembly if it helps reduce chance of damage. Things such as removing plane iron/chip breaker/lever cap on hand plane to prevent bent blade is not something they would normally do. Carbide tool edges may be not be obvious as needing to be wrapped separately. Packing chisels by handful where edges bang together, and not separated. Movers usually will not do any disassembly on garage tools, as they would be responsible for reassembly, and return to service.

- Custom making crates using an old pallet is easiest, but can make you own if you want. Add 3/4 plywood to top of pallet as base for bolting on the machine attachment, and build a box around tool. 1/2 inch BC exterior grade ply with 1×2 reinforced edges screwed together works if less than 42 inch side. Most prefer to use 3/4 inch ply. Can also use 1×2 internal braces in corner for screwing into, instead of external braces. Note external braces produce handles for moving crate easier. If tool base is not bolted to pallet, and movement is stopped by size of crate; there still must be side blocks screwed down to stop base sliding around inside crate. Nothing should able to move inside the crate.
Note – Ask your moving coordinator about crates. Custom crating charges are not typical for house move, and often not part of the covered service with a paid move.

- Cast iron is fragile.
>Any cast iron part of a tool that is heavy AND hanging off side of tool must either be removed or fully supported/braced inside a crate. Things like TS extension wings, drill press table arm & head, jointer tables, band saw table top, or radial saw arms; all must be removed/supported unless you want road damage.
> Large flat table tops mounted firmly to machine that are NOT inside a crate, need to have scratch/dent protection layer taped on top, and around edges. Plywood or MDF with some 1×2 pine edging nailed on is best, but double/triple wall corrugated cardboard works OK. Examples: TS top plate, or shaper top plate.

- After disassembly and tool prep for move, need to label any location on machine that should not be used as a handle or for lifting. Works best to cover the item/area with cardboard and tape, and use a large RED permanent marker to mark ‘DO NOT LIFT HERE!’. IMHO – this only works about half time. It almost never works on something like jointer table extensions or drill press table, where about only place to lift is cast iron tables. Best to crate expensive tools with parts easily broken.

- Long distance movers do not like mobile bases or wheels on anything, especially heavy tools. When they place the tool in truck, they do not want it able to roll. If they do use your mobile base to wheel into truck, will attempt to remove casters, or remove tool from mobile base. The dollies they use for moving have 3-4 inch wheels with high clearance that is better than typical mobile base. If you crate the tool, remove the mobile base for same reason.

- Any steel surface that can rust if it gets wet should have extra protection for move. Cosmoline is standard commercial solution, but is messy and pain to clean. If metal parts will be exposed to handling, Dried cosmoline can be only way to protect it. If tool is boxed, or crated, then light coating of heavy body grease works well. Greased/oiled parts that are boxed should be wrapped in paper and bagged to avoid cross contamination.
Loctite makes a clear rust conversion coating called ‘extend’ that can be a possible alternative to heavy cosmoline. It is a PVA/PVB alcohol based spray that stops/converts rust. It can be cleaned easily if needed. I use it on tools to ‘seal’ metal, and then apply wax with 0000 white plastic buffing pad for protection without ever removing it. I use it annually on TS, jointer, drill press post/table, planer tables/posts, etc.

- Moving LARGE hobby grade wood working tools can get expensive, especially when costs for custom pallets is added. Even if move is paid, and DIY crates, materials are not free. IMHO – if replacement cost for a large used wood working tool is less than roughly $250; probably best to sell the existing tool on CL, and buy similar used tool (or upgrade!) after you move. This especially true for contractor table saws, miter/chop saws, large table top drill presses, and/or table top disc/belt sanders.

If all moving and packing for your tools is free, you are a very lucky person. I have too much stuff. Have seen move contracts with not only weight limits, but also packing cost ceilings, crating exemptions, and/or total cost limits. My shop full of tools, coupled with usually home stuff; usually smashes all the limits with ease. So learned to keep it simple, take only things of great value, and pack well things I want to protect!

Sorry to write another long post, but I hope it is all useful.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View LucasWoods's profile


448 posts in 1940 days

#14 posted 08-09-2018 03:18 PM


Thank you, even though it was long I read it all and all your info was extremely useful!

Yes, I am a lucky one in the fact that all my power tools are apart of my household goods and will be moved for free for me. I just need to pack it all and take stuff apart that may brake. Also, so far in my experience the military is decent at paying for items that get damaged during the move, no matter how well it is packed or how bad it is packed.

I had the movers lose the screws to my tv stand and I was able to get the entire thing paid for and was able to just go out and buy a new one. I hope my tools don’t get broken or stolen. But I will be creating a tool list with name and model number and pictures of the item before the move.

Thank you all again for the info, it has helped a lot and I hope I won’t be moving for awhile but it is coming up on that time where I can leave in 6 months or could be another 2 years here, who knows. Lol.

Thank you all!

-- Colorado Springs, CO - USAF

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