Air Drying Oak Lumber - Mold Problem?

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Forum topic by Scott C. posted 11-27-2014 04:45 PM 6086 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Scott C.

162 posts in 3391 days

11-27-2014 04:45 PM

My father in law had a significant amount of white oak milled for me and it’s been air drying in the loft of a barn in central IL for about 8 months. Most of it is cut to 5/4 and 6/4. I checked out the pile today to see how the moisture content is coming along and after removing the top layer of boards I saw what seemed like a significant amount of mold and water stains. The boards have been stickered with pine lath since it was first sawn and from what I’m told, the roof of the barn does not leak. Is this as big of a probelm as I think it is? Any advice on what to do? Should it be re-stacked with more space between them?

The pictures of the stacked wood was from 6 months ago and the stacks have remained more or less the same since then.


-- measure twice, cut once, swear and start over.

12 replies so far

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 4327 days

#1 posted 11-27-2014 05:34 PM

Looks to me like you need thicker stickers.
How thick are the stickers you are using?
Most people recommend 1” thick stickers.
I have used 1/2” stickers with success with good air flow.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

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Scott C.

162 posts in 3391 days

#2 posted 11-27-2014 05:39 PM

I think the stickers are 1/4 inch.

-- measure twice, cut once, swear and start over.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3347 days

#3 posted 11-27-2014 05:48 PM

I agree, looks like you need more space between the boards so the air can flow better around them.

I had a pecan log milled a few years back. At that time I didn’t KNOW about stickering wet wood and I stacked 6 or 8 slabs which were about 2” thick in one stack with nothing separating the slabs. After about a month I noticed what looked like thick “cheese” oozing out between the boards. I had to use a 5lb sledge and a prybar to get the darn things apart! I tried scraping the mold off but it was too tough. So I used my pressure washer.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View lndfilwiz's profile


118 posts in 2941 days

#4 posted 11-27-2014 06:02 PM

You need thicker stickers and now is a good time to use a fan to help dry. You may want to use a scraper to remove the mold and some bleach to hep kill what is there. Another suggestion is to turn the wood every 2 weeks to keep from warping. Turn the wood 90º and place the top boards on the bottom of the pile.

-- Smile, it makes people wander what you are up to.

View mudflap4869's profile


2130 posts in 2799 days

#5 posted 11-27-2014 06:16 PM

As said above airflow space and air flow between the boards is what it is all about. At least 3/4” stickers. A fan blowing directly on the wood will dry the part that it is passing over faster than the rest, and can cause problems. For the best results, insure that the airflow is equal throughout the stack.

-- Still trying to master kindling making

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


6105 posts in 3691 days

#6 posted 11-27-2014 06:51 PM

You’re not getting enough air circulation in the corner, go to 3/4” stickers and that should help quite a bit. Hopefully the stains are superficial and will plane out.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3827 days

#7 posted 11-27-2014 07:44 PM

I agree with Mudflap. If that barn is air tight enough to keep the air from moving around, put a fan in there. Even if it’s a little muffin fan from a computer, you are trying to make air flow to move the moisture out. I would prefer something like a ceiling fan on low. It will move a lot of air and not have a tendency to burn out. They are also cheap on sale, especially during black friday. (Tomorrow). (Ace Hardware has a coupon on line to use in the store tomorrow for 50% off any item under $30).

I have some oak I started to dry, and it was stickered correctly, it was inside and kept at about 40% humidity, but it grew a white layer on it that I thought was mold.
I sent a chunk to my extension agent who sent it to Texas A&M who determined it was a fungus that was carried by the saw blade to the rest of the wood while being cut.
It made a cover on the wood and all the styloses have a white bit in them because it moved all through the wood.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 5233 days

#8 posted 11-27-2014 09:34 PM

looks to me like some how, the wood got wet, almost like the building has a leak

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

View mporter's profile


253 posts in 3918 days

#9 posted 11-27-2014 10:25 PM

Congrats!!! You have a huge pile of spalted oak there. The same thing happened to me on the first round of oak I dried. 80 degrees+high moisture+ darkness+ fungal spores that all wood has= spalted wood.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6520 posts in 4153 days

#10 posted 11-27-2014 10:52 PM

I would also recommend stacking green lumber outside for a year. Stacked and stickered with a plywood top to keep rain off, yet open to the wind. A three sided shed works well too.
Then you can make a small kiln using fans, an electric heater, and a household dehumidifier to finish drying the lumber.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3816 days

#11 posted 11-28-2014 01:48 PM

Yes, stickers are too thin and there is no air flow.

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

View Tennessee's profile


2936 posts in 3854 days

#12 posted 11-28-2014 01:51 PM

+1 with mudflap, and if you have power there, add a fan. I always use 3/4” when I stack green wood.
On the other hand, I have built guitars with some spalted oak in them, and people just ooh and aah over that spalting!
It probably is not very deep and can be planed off, but stop it now, or the wood will eventually go punky and soft…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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