As a woodworker, you must know that lumber is subject to moisture gain over time. As a natural material, it reacts to the environment around it. Many factors including temperature fluctuations, pest rot presence, prolonged sun exposure and moisture can take their toll on the quality of lumber. If you don’t know the right way to protect and shield the wood, you might not realize that it’s compromised until it’s too late.
In the woodworking world, people may have the finest tools, perfect wood and great ideas for their projects but proper storage of lumber is one the biggest pieces of the puzzle. Damaged lumber, in most cases, is irredeemable which is a waste of both - money and time. The last thing any craftsman wants is to have warped or bowed boards. Other than structure integrity, it can also raise challenges like customer complaints, and returns.
Ways To Store Your Lumber
Imagine finding a pack of lumber for your project and then losing it due to warping. If you have worked in the lumber industry, you would know that the straighter the board, the less you’ll have to plane or trim off during the time of use. But don’t you worry, we have the solution for you! We have a few tricks that you need to know to get the most out of your lumber.
1. Stack the Boards Horizontally
The best way to stack the lumber is to place it horizontally. It is crucial to store the boards in piles and not individually. The reason behind it is to achieve humidity, airflow and temperature homogeneity on both sides of the board. If one side of the board is not exposed to the same conditions, it is most likely to shrink or swell more than the other side. This will result in twisting, warping or bowing. The same thing can happen if you place a single board on the floor or a table.
In cases of limited storage space, one can store lumber vertically as long as the boards are supported from top and bottom and raised off the ground in order to prevent water damage.
2. Keep It Dry
As you may know, wood and water don’t really go well together. Water and drastic changes in temperature can cause moisture gain. Make sure that you keep your lumber off the floor with skids or on shelves away from leaks to ensure premium quality material. Lumber that has been dried properly will not shrink or warp as long as it is stored correctly.
If you’re storing lumber boards at a location with high relative humidity, make sure that it is wrapped in material which is impermeable to moisture. This will prevent the wood from absorbing moisture from its surrounding.
3. Store Woods Indoors
Another way to maintain the quality of lumber for your future projects is to keep it indoors and away from direct sunlight. If not, then the surface of the lumber can be ruined by a rainstorm or sun’s UV rays. This can raise numerous challenges for a construction company like decaying and breaking down of the surface, splitting, and warping. Another major implication of exposure to direct sunlight to lumber is loss of rich coloring, putting a damper on its shine.
4. Use Stickers Between Each Course
Many woodworkers use narrow strips of wood, also known as stickers, between the layers of lumber to allow adequate air flow. Typically, people use 1 x 1 stickers between the boards leaving enough space to let the lumber breathe. It is advised to align these strips vertically at each end as you stack more boards on top horizontally. This lets air circulate around the fibers and prevents the wood from sagging.
5. Regularly Monitor Moisture Content
In many cases, it is possible to be uncertain of the duration of the project. So it is highly recommended that you closely check the moisture content of the wood material. Larger companies should have hygrometers installed to measure and maintain relative humidity in manufacturing areas. It is vital to keep track of these readings because the content can vary from wood’s interior to the surface. This helps immensely to diagnose any warping in the product.
Storage and maintenance of lumber wood can be confusing, complex and many woodworkers find it restricting. Knowing the common causes and ways to prevent warping, one can minimize lumber deterioration.
And now that you know how your material changes, you’re better prepared for any challenges in your next project!
Forest 2 Home is dedicated to helping the woodworkers nationwide and would be delighted to answer any questions that you may have regarding the storage of lumber wood.