Stacking Dried Lumber

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Forum topic by rlamb007 posted 08-10-2011 06:06 AM 2203 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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76 posts in 3456 days

08-10-2011 06:06 AM

I have a quick question that I wanted to double check before I move ahead.

I cut down some Oak and Poplar trees and had them sawn into rough lumber for projects.
The lumber has been racked and stacked and setting in a storage building for over a year and it seems pretty darn dry.

My question is I would like to move the lumber to my workshop, but I do not have the space to keep the spacer in between each board. Would it be safe to stack the lumber without the spacers since it should be dried by now? I am thinking it should be safe but I wanted to be sure.



8 replies so far

View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 4812 days

#1 posted 08-10-2011 06:44 AM


probably good to go unless is over the 6/4 mark.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View tomd's profile


2219 posts in 4689 days

#2 posted 08-10-2011 06:58 AM

I check mine with a moisture meter, if OK then I bring it in and just stack it without spacers.

-- Tom D

View rlamb007's profile


76 posts in 3456 days

#3 posted 08-10-2011 12:03 PM

Thanks everyone. Unfortunately, I don’t have a moisture meter. I do have some that were cut thick.
I think I am going to go for it. Surely after sitting through to “HOT” summers it that storage unit, and it should be pretty close to kiln dried. ;-)

What should I look for after it is stacked that might suggest it should have spacers?

Thanks again for everyone taking the time to respond. Looking forward to trying out some of this lumber.


View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 3573 days

#4 posted 08-10-2011 07:57 PM

Since the inside “weather” is different from the outside weather, I would sticker them until they acclimate to the inside “weather” (about 2 to 3 weeks, more for anything over an inch thick).

I do this even with lumber I purchase from a lumber yard where it has been stacked and stickered in a warehouse, out of the weather, but inside the warehouse “weather” stays in tune with the outside weather. Inside your shop it is very different unless your shop “weather” fluctuates and stays in tune with the outside weather.

I’ve not stickered lumber in the past and it turned into such a pretzel that all I could use it for were small parts. I was really bummed :-(

Sorry if this is confusing about the “weather”, but inside a controlled environment and outside in a shed are two different weather conditions and you need to account for this change and time to acclimate is the only way to deal with it.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3877 days

#5 posted 08-10-2011 09:57 PM

It will never dry enough to not rot without going thru a kiln. If you do not sticker it, it will begin rotting inside and invite bugs. Generally speaking, ambient air will dry down to 10% or so; you need it down to 6% to be safe, I would think Death Valley might be ok for that but that’s about it. Without a meter, I would recommend at least 1/2” thick stickers anyway.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Tim Kindrick's profile

Tim Kindrick

369 posts in 3473 days

#6 posted 08-10-2011 11:31 PM

I think the rule of thumb is 1 year for each 1 inch of thickness to be save but I would probably sticker anything under 2 years just to be safe!!!

-- I have metal in my neck but wood in my blood!!

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 3596 days

#7 posted 08-11-2011 06:44 PM

Hi Rob. I operate a sawmill and kiln drying business, and am happy to share my thoughts.

Actual drying time depends upon species, thickness, and local environmental conditions.

In the CONUS, probably 75% of all wood species dry at a rate significantly faster than “1” per year”. In fact, in most locations and for most species (slow drying species such as white Oak excepted) 4/4 lumber is well air dried within a couple of months, and six months for 8/4.

Here is a link to a US Forest Products Library publication that provides information about air drying tests performed in various parts of the U.S.

The information on page 4 is especially insightful about differences in air drying rates due to temperature and humidity. As an example, 4/4 oak stacked and stickered in early January required almost 5 months to dry down to 20% MC, yet similar species/thickness stacked and stickered on June 1 only requires 2 months.

The biggest unknown for you is the fact that stacked and stickered in your storage building is not conducive to air flow, which greatly assists with air drying.

Most likely your poplar has reached EMC (equilibrium moisture content), which means that it will be around 12% – 14% MC, depending upon your geographic location. The oak has “probably” reached that as well, but oak is a slower drying species than poplar and any 8/4 or thicker may still be over 18% MC.

If you don’t have a moisture meter, the easiest way for your to determine MC% is to take an average board, plane it down to exactly 1” thick, and then cut it to whatever length is needed in order to yield 144 cubic inches. Weigh it, and compare it with charts that list the green and dry weights of various lumber species.

At any rate, if your workshop is climate or humidity controlled, it is really a good idea to stack and sticker the boards for a few weeks with a gentle fan pushing air through the stacks. If you dry stack lumber that has been stored externally (even in a non-climate controlled shed or building), it will not continue to lose MC% unless it is either stickered, or stored vertically (another good option).

The best thing for you to do is to invest a few bucks in an inexpensive moisture meter, such as the mini-lignomat meter. You can usually find a qood quality meter for less than 70 bucks, and the Horror-Freight models sell for about 10, or so I’m told.

Also, watch for any tell-tale signs of fresh sawdust on or around your boards, as this would be an indicator that some pests are present (and you’ll want to either sterilize your lumber in a kiln or via chemical process) ASAP. You won’t need to worry about rot in lumber that has been air dried inside a building (unless the environment was incredibly humid), just bugs.

What thickness is your lumber, and is the oak red or white?



-- Scott, North Carolina,

View rlamb007's profile


76 posts in 3456 days

#8 posted 08-11-2011 07:54 PM

Wow…Thanks Scott.
That is great information. I went and checked out the lumber again this morning and it “seems” to be pretty darn dry. The lumber has been sitting in a rental storage unit that is basically sealed up for the last ~15 months and has gone through two summers.
I have some white and red oak all was sawn to 1 inch thickness and the same for the poplar.

It hasn’t been touch, so I will be curious to see if there is any critters or other surprises lurking when I start to move it.

Thanks everyone for all the advice and info.


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