Staining Rough Sawn White Oak

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Forum topic by DIYWaterDog posted 07-12-2020 05:15 AM 660 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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63 posts in 1539 days

07-12-2020 05:15 AM

Hello Folks,

So, I will be using freshly cut rough sawn white oak to create a feature/accent wall in my basement.

Wood was acquired from a saw mill where it had been cut the same day or 1 day earlier. Boards are 3/4 to 7/8 thick

How long do I need to wait before applying a stain after the initial cuts from the logs? I will probably be using a water base stain.

If I must wait weeks or months, will it be OK to at the very least install the boards soon then stain at later date?

I look forward to your responses.



-- Why pay somebody when you can DIY?!?

4 replies so far

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4531 posts in 2607 days

#1 posted 07-12-2020 06:40 AM

Drying lumber is complicated subject? Hard to give an easy answer of X wait time.
How long this takes for lumber to dry depends a lot on your location and drying conditions.

Here are some references that might help:

and finally the lumber drying bible written by federal USDA:

Off the top of head:
Even though you are not making furniture with the lumber (which needs < 12% moisture), you still want it stabilized so that movement after mounting to wall is minimized. Rough rule of thumb for construction lumber is less than 15%.

My guess from living in Ohio for many years; would be ~4-6 months of dry time to reach ~12-15% common found in construction lumber, as fresh cut oak is about 75% moisture to start. This assumes you store it in dry location with good air movement, and proper stacking.

FWIW – Would expect the boards to shrink in width by 8-10%, and thickness by 5%; which will create significant gaps in paneled wall if assembled green. They might also twist and warp, pulling fasteners out too.
In simple terms, a 12” wide board will shrink over 3/4” of inch in width from green to 15% moisture level, and lose about 1/32 in thickness.

This is SWAG based on standard white oak shrinkage levels.

Would not put any finish on the lumber during drying as you slow down the drying rate. Although you do need to seal ends to prevent cracking due faster evaporation rate from end grain.

Hope this helps!

Haven’t run a sawmill in over 30 years, so please excuse any errors I might have made in my quick calculations.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


7076 posts in 1933 days

#2 posted 07-13-2020 03:00 PM

No idea where I heard it, however, the rule of thumb I’ve kept imprinted in my brain (where alcohol is not permitted), is roughly 1 year per 25mm. Now that is just a ball park, but I do use it as a ready reckoner. When the time has expired, is when I start considering shrinkage and reach for the moisture meter, calculator and measuring stick.
I do seal the ends with wax (dipped in a electric frypan loaded with parafin) before the countdown starts.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View shampeon's profile


2167 posts in 3296 days

#3 posted 07-13-2020 05:20 PM

Just to reiterate what Klutz talked about, you are not going to be happy if you install it right now. Each piece is going to move and twist and shrink. If you e.g. nail each board down you risk splitting the boards as they dry. If you mount a piece of wet lumber against a wall it’s going to cup outward as the outer face dries more rapidly than the inner face. You may even get mold on the inner face if it was truly freshly cut.

Buying rough lumber saves you a lot, and buying green rough lumber saves you a ton, but then you have to be able to store and dry the boards before you use them, so purchasing dried lumber is almost always worth the extra cost.

I’ll also point out that white oak is nice lumber, but not exactly rare. Plain sawn dried 4/4 white oak in Ohio should be plentiful and pretty inexpensive. I’d probably buy enough dried lumber to do your accent wall and find another use for your boards after they’ve dried.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View DIYWaterDog's profile


63 posts in 1539 days

#4 posted 07-19-2020 09:10 PM

Sorry for the delay in response. After reading the initial replies I started investigating other options.

Let me say my purpose of the wood is to create an accent/feature wall with rough cut white oak. Planks have been cut to 6-7 inches wide and are just under 1 inch thick. Average 3/4 inch thick. I will probably rip some of the planks down to about 3-4 inches for the finish dimension.

Wood is currently stacked in garage with air flow between layers.

I did invest in a moisture content meter. I quickly tested the meter on randeom boards and locations and noted that most of my tests show less than 15% moisture. As Klutz has mentioned 15%, would it be safe to use this lumber at this time to at least construct the accent wall then let it dry installed and stain at a later time.

Eager to hear your thoughts.

Otherwise, I might have to put this lumber aside for now and explore purchasing pallet wood as an alternative.

Thanks again folks!!!

-- Why pay somebody when you can DIY?!?

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