Tips & Tricks: How Lumber is Dried

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Forum topic by MsDebbieP posted 11-15-2011 01:46 PM 2605 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18619 posts in 5170 days

11-15-2011 01:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dried kiln tips tricks

What are your tips/tricks re: Dried Lumber
- kiln-dried vs air-dried, what to look for, what to expect, benefits, how to dry lumber, etc

(also add links to helpful blogs etc that are related to the topic)

Gateway to all Tips & Tricks Topics

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

20 replies so far

View mainwoodworks's profile


112 posts in 3658 days

#1 posted 11-15-2011 03:00 PM

Because of an ice storm I had to take out a large maple and a ash tree. I had a local saw mill cut them up into lumber (4/4 and 8/4). Got a pretty good yield out of them. I stored them in the attic of my storage shed. I sticker-ed them of course. After about 8 years they were dry enough to use for furniture. I still have a few feet left but am always afraid of the possibility of powder post beetles. Have not seen any sign of them as yet.
If I had had the lumber kiln dried there would not be that possibility.

My advice is to always buy kiln-dried lumber, it is worth the extra cost.

-- Measure twice, cut once, and hope for the best.

View SeaWitch's profile


149 posts in 3404 days

#2 posted 11-15-2011 05:15 PM

If you’re drying it yourself,
Sprinkle some anti-insect powder on some of the layers to deter critters.
Make sure it’s off the ground whether inside or outside.
Make sure you put some weight on top.
It’s possible to build your own “sun” kiln to dry it faster.
Don’t be in a hurry. It takes time to dry it yourself….sometimes years.
You can always ask a mill that kiln dries if they will dry it for you. Some will.

-- When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it.”   Theodore Roosevelt

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3486 days

#3 posted 11-16-2011 05:25 AM

I air dry a lot of lumber. The key is a good level foundation. This will keep all the boards perfectly flat. Put stickers between the layers on the ends and every 18” apart.

Put the best grade lumber on the bottom so the lower grade boards on top will provide weight to keep the better grade stuff flat. Place stack in an open shed, never inside a barn or building, preferably open on all four sides. Air flow is critically important. Too little air flow leads to mold, mildew, and the dreaded gray stain. If you don’t have a shed, place a roof over your stack a few inches above the topmost layer. Roofing tin is a good choice, NEVER cover the stack with a tarp. Remember, it is all about air flow, and covering the pile with a tarp is a recipe for disaster and poor quality lumber.

Read “Drying Hardwood Lumber” from the Forest Products Laboratory. Google it.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7851 posts in 3810 days

#4 posted 11-16-2011 05:52 AM

I towel dry all my lumber. I find that a good, fluffy bath towel, and maybe a bit of lotion on the endgrain makes my lumber very reasonable to deal with…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Paul Mayer's profile

Paul Mayer

1147 posts in 4075 days

#5 posted 11-20-2011 01:06 AM

I am a big fan of air dried lumber, as long as it is dried correctly. I particularly like working with air dried cherry and walnut, which are more pleasant to hand plane and have color I prefer over their kiln dried counterparts.

Here is an article that I wrote on this topic:

-- Paul Mayer,

View HamS's profile


1842 posts in 3399 days

#6 posted 11-20-2011 03:50 AM

I have several times bought 2-300 bdft of green sawn lumber. It is a lot cheaper that way if you have the time and the space to store it while it dries. I have a drying rack in my pole barn that can hold 600 ft or so of lumber drying. The rule of thumbe is one year per inch of thickness. My natural work pace is three or four years from idea to putting in service. I have not had any problem with wood moving too much but I have had problems with some oak that I have stored for 25 years now started to rot under the stickers. Moral of that is to rotate the lumber and move the stickers every so often. I don’t paint the ends, which would probably stop some checking, but I buy the cheaper grade and never try to use boards wider than 6”. That is because my jointer is 6”. I recently put in 200 bd ft of 3/4 maple No 1 and 2 that I got at the saw mill. This is specifically for drawer sides and small boxes. I got a pretty good deal on that. To do this, you need a jointer and a thickness planer, or a great bench, good planes, strong arms, and more experience that I have.

-- Haming it up in the 'bash.

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 4112 days

#7 posted 11-20-2011 09:00 AM

Nothing takes the moisture out of the air like a wood stove…......
I lack patience. Eight years, four years, no thanks…........

-- mike...............

View olddutchman1's profile


69 posts in 3422 days

#8 posted 11-20-2011 02:36 PM

I had a tree that had to come down for an addition. I laid out a nice flat area for drying, On the bare ground.When the cement blocks were set, I made sure they all were alinged. After the wood was stickered, I tied the wood down to pegs that were pounded in. That helped the wood to be held flat. The first year, I retied the straps often to make they were tight. They are inside now, and they are nice. do twist,or any thing. I will use them in a workbench, Rolbu, (I hope)

-- Saved! and so gratefull.Consider Who Created it All

View ScottN's profile


262 posts in 3689 days

#9 posted 11-20-2011 03:56 PM

“I towel dry all my lumber. I find that a good, fluffy bath towel, and maybe a bit of lotion on the endgrain makes my lumber very reasonable to deal with…”

I almost spit out my coffee…lol

MsDebbieP, I recommend you use your search engines and do your home work. It would be impossible to answer those questions in just a few paragraphs.

Read this:

-- New Auburn,WI

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5170 days

#10 posted 11-20-2011 04:31 PM

Hi Scott .. thanks for the feedback.
The intention of these tips & tricks are not specifically for my benefit. Members have asked for a “wiki”, compiling terminology and tips for easy access, especially for beginning woodworkers.

I hope that people not only post their own tips/tricks but also provide links to blogs, projects, and forum discussions to help explain/explore the topics.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 3536 days

#11 posted 11-20-2011 06:31 PM

Here’s a good site I found a while back. I haven’t tried any of their suggestions yet, but I plan to build a solar cycle kiln sometime in the next year!

-- Jesse --

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 3687 days

#12 posted 11-23-2011 01:51 AM

Here are some good threads to start with:

-- Scott, North Carolina,

View Tennessee's profile


2936 posts in 3524 days

#13 posted 11-23-2011 07:57 PM

This is going to sound crazy, but I discovered this sort of by accident. Got a wonderful load of planked cherry, and received it in late January, where it was stickered out in a snowy field in SW Pennsylvania. Been off the tree maybe two months. Didn’t have a place to put it, so we had to use one of those rental storage sheds. My wife and I stacked it, stickered, in the shed with some other junk we had in there. Went back in May-June, (after the shed had seen some hot days), to find wonderfully dried cherry, all ready to go, about 7%. Since the rental space stayed dry, and had a nice, flat concrete floor, the wood came around great. So if you rent on of those things, they make a great place to air dry wood with the help of the sun beating down on the roof of the building!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3486 days

#14 posted 11-24-2011 03:28 AM

Some species can tolerate fast drying. Some, like oak, cannot. Other woods need a lot of air flow to avoid mold, mildew, and stain. Cherry is pretty forgiving.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Grumpy's profile


26811 posts in 4861 days

#15 posted 11-27-2011 09:41 AM

Yet to try the microwave method but will one day.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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