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what is the best way to store wood?

Daleinok's picture



I'm sure glad there are so many knowledgeable woodworkers and carpenters on this site, as I can use all the help I can get. 

I am a retired physician that just wants to cut on wood in my shop, in opposed to a hospital.  I do have a rather large shop 3,000 sq.ft., with only about 2,000 down stairs.  My problem is with just what machinery and tools I have now I am not over run with floor space.  

I have started building Patio furniture out of Eastern Red Cedar (aromatic cedar), and have a trailer load of about 1200 bd.ft. in which I have just picked up from the sawmill.  It is  setting in front of the overhead door taking up valuable shop footage. 

What I need to know is:  (at least for now) 

What can you tell me about ways to store this wood? 

I mean vertical vs horizontal?  what kind of rack? etc. 

Has anyone got pictures of what they are using?

AND!!!!  I have a kiln, but what is the purpose or advantage of kiln drying this wood as to just using green wood if the furniture I'm building will be left outside anyway? 

In the future, I would like to build some toys for my Grandchildren, and maybe a bed room suit.   You get the idea, things like that.


Thanks for any and all your help, I've tinkered with wood most of my life, but really I'm kind of like a fish out of water.

Thanks again



*None of the secrets of success will work unless you do!

SteveSchoene's picture

(post #73711, reply #1 of 22)

You still shouldn't use green wood for outside furniture unless the design takes full account of the additional drying that will happen.  Green lumber ranges from 19% water to nearly dripping at about 30% depending on the species and the time of year when harvested.  But air drying will achieve an equilibrium level of about 12%, give or take depending on your climate.  Thats the level you want for outdoor furniture.  Kiln drying can speed the process of removing moisture to the desired level, even if that is 12%.  However, air drying will accomplish the same task--just slower.  And, there is some risk in kiln drying that if done two quickly it can build up stresses in the wood that only begin to release after being milled.  Most woodworkers think air dried wood works more sweetly, even after being slowly dried to the same 7% level as kiln dried. 

Wood is best stored "stickered" so that air can circulate evenly to all sides.  Most warping occurs when there is more moisture on one side than the other. Outside, under cover, but with free circulation is desireable for air drying.  Wood for interior projects should be brought down to the 7% or so level that is the average in conditioned spaces.  It can be kiln dried, or it can be dried from the air dried level, by stickering in areas with similar relative humidity as the ultimate destination.  Again ample circulation should be assured. 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

GLAUCON's picture

(post #73711, reply #2 of 22)

BTW, "stickered" means that the wood is stored horizontally. Each board is placed flat, and then small blocks of wood (~1/4" to 1/2") square and 7-8" long are placed on top of the board at ~3' intervals. Another board is placed on top of the blocks, then a layer of blocks, etc.  This creates a sandwich that allows air to circulate around the board so that it dries evenly.

I use adjustable metal brackets- the kind that mount on the wall and hold up shelves.  Instead of shelves I have my stickered wood.

For what its worth, I don't think you need to sticker all your rough lumber- just do it as you mill the wood. In general, joint and plane the wood to within ~1/8" of its final dimension then sticker it for 4-5 days before doing the final milling.

On the other hand, if you really have moist, green wood, then stickering it to allow it to air dry to say~15% isn't a bad idea and may save you some checking and warping.

If you have as much rough lumber as you say, I would probably rough mill it and sticker it.  By the time you get done running a thou bf, the wood you started with will be ready for final milling and you can start making saw dust.

Good luck,


If you don't think too good, then don't think too much...


If you don't think too good, then don't think too much...

Daleinok's picture

(post #73711, reply #10 of 22)

I just got through stacking and stickering all of my cedar.  I cur strips of wood

3/4' X 1" X 2' stacked all of my 1X4 - 1X6 - 2X4 - 2X6's ( you get the picture) all like kinds in each stack.  I decided not to put heat to them just let them air dry.  The lumber has been cut and stacked for about 4 to 6 mo. already, and I will start using the oldest next week.  Any thing I should do or watch out for. 

I don't have a moisture meter yet but will get one Monday.



*None of the secrets of success will work unless you do!

pagoda's picture

(post #73711, reply #3 of 22)


taunton Press has a good book out  called " working With wood by Andy Rae

 it will give you all the  infomation you  need concerning  all the  questions you asked

I got it from Lee Valley recently including the  supports for storing wood neatly"

Daleinok's picture

(post #73711, reply #11 of 22)



I'll look for the book,  you said Working with wood @Tauton press I think, if not let me know.



*None of the secrets of success will work unless you do!

Dave45's picture

(post #73711, reply #4 of 22)

Wanna adopt me, Doc?  I'd kill for a 3,000 sq ft shop!!!  Jeez, my whole house is just over 2,000 sq ft and I'm running my woodworking business out of my 400 sq ft garage.  It do get a bit crowded out there, sometimes - lol

The best way to store wood is horizontal and stickered.  If you can't do that, vertical works fine as long as it's almost truely vertical.  Check the hardwoods and molding sections at a Home Depot, Lowes, or decent lumber yard to see a pretty good vertical storage setup.

The most important thing is to minimize temperature/humidity swings.  The way I do that is to buy only what wood I need when I need it.  In addition to my minimal storage space problem, I think I'm better off letting the lumber company worry about the storage issues.

Daleinok's picture

(post #73711, reply #12 of 22)



Adoption might be an option, but I'm afraid it would be mostly a one way street.  That is to say if you know a lot about woodworking, because I would be picking your brain all the time.

I placed my wood on the shop floor in front of the overhead door, until I get some kind of racks built.  What kind would you or anyone out there advise me.  I will be keeping on hand at least 800 bd ft of Cedar, 500 bd ft of hickory, 300 - 400 bd ft of Cherry, And again about 700 - 800 bd ft of Oak.  That would be from about 2,300 - 4,500 bd ft at any given time.  I know that is a whole bunch but I just want to have it in case any of my children want to build and some of my colleges from work.  (maybe some for the bragging rights) "I don't know"



*None of the secrets of success will work unless you do!

Dave45's picture

(post #73711, reply #18 of 22)

Doc -

You would be picking my alleged mind if the truth were told.  There are some so-called friends who would say that my mind was picked clean long ago.  Maybe we could work out a trade.  My surgical experience has been limited to digging splinters out of my fingers with a pocket knife.  I'm sure you could help me improve my technique.

If you're going to keep a lot of lumber around, you'll definitely want a good storage system.  Like I said in my earlier post, flat or vertical should work and you may want both if you have the space.  Eventually, you're going to have quite a few short cutoff pieces that you don't want to throw away and I find that vertical storage makes them easier to find.

Since you already have your lumber, I would suggest that you set up some temporary storage for now.  You could lay some 2x4's on the floor spaced ~2' apart and stack/sticker your lumber on them.  If possible, make your pile away from the overhead door and (unless you just like restacking lumber) away from wherever you plan to put your permanent storage.

When you can, please put some information in your profile.  It doesn't need to be too specific, but it's always good to know someone's location.

Happy New Year


cherryjohn's picture

(post #73711, reply #5 of 22)

3000 ft sq??.......youre kidding right!  and you dont know where to store 1200 b/f of cedar??  amazing.i f you dont want that wood cramping your indoor style you could build an outdoor rack with a roof on it.  My shop is 750 ft/sq and I think thats is goo sized.  What would I do with 3000 sq/ft?  Buy more wood I guess.

Wicked Decent Woodworks

(oldest woodworking shop in NH)

Rochester NH

" If the women dont find you handsome, they should at least find you handy........yessa!"

Edited 12/30/2005 1:21 pm ET by cherryjohn

Wicked Decent Woodworks

(oldest woodworking shop in NH)

Rochester NH

" If the women dont find you handsome, they should, at least, find you handy........"

DennisS's picture

(post #73711, reply #6 of 22)


Glad to hear you're trading cutting on people to cutting on wood (grin)

One thing you need to consider with respect to a resinous wood like cedar. Now, I don't know about _Eastern_ cedar but our Western Red cedar 'weeps' for a considerable length of time during the drying process. In fact I doubt really that it *ever* dries out (haha)

The pitch from cedar is sticky as all getout which you should already know by now if your trailer load was fresh cut from the mill. I had a tree felled and milled into just all slab wood (2" thick slabs after milling the blank up fairly square for good yield.) The sawyer advised that western red cedar dries quite quickly compared to other woods. Which it seems to be doing. Reasonably stable as it's drying. I just have it stacked on large saw horses well above the ground at the end of the shop. Not the best of environments for it but it's not really the best of woods, either.

If you have a kiln I think you'd profit from accellerating the extraction of all the pitch, it that's even possible. You wouldn't want the Ms. to sit down on your new patio bench in a pair of fine summer slacks only to stick the seat.

It ain't pretty I'll assure you!!

I don't really know vertical vs. horizontal. Vertical is easier to achieve - you just stand it in the corner. Most of the hardwood places around here store all there stock vertical so who knows.

Ron01960's picture

(post #73711, reply #7 of 22)

You may want to read this thread on sawing and drying ERC.

Best of luck.


Daleinok's picture

(post #73711, reply #13 of 22)


I do thank you for everything you have told me, I guess that the reason I don't have all that much sap oozing form the wood is that when I get it from the sawyer he has had it cut and stickered for me about 4 - 6 mo.  Then when I get it back to my shop to make patio furniture I put 3 coats of marine grade varnish waiting one day between each coat so as to allow it to seal the wood.  Do you think that is why or am I just very lucky?


People seem to think that you should be God, and I am a FAR CRY FROM THAT!  But It is very nice to just get lost in the shop. 


I hope that I am not sounding like I am trying to pull anyones leg, I really for feel very blessed by God for all He has allowed me to have.


Thanks again




*None of the secrets of success will work unless you do!

pagoda's picture

(post #73711, reply #14 of 22)

My understanding only the ends need to be sealed  and should be done as soon as possible after milling using  latex paint or  a sealer made for the job

you aare only sealing to slow the  moisture loss from the ends and to prevent split ends

I keep approx 3000 ft of cherry , oak , birch , sugar maple and  white ash  in case i come up with a project

all mine is stored on  shelving brackets froom Lee Valley at 16" on centre and stickered

I put the brackets about 16" apart vertically to ease access  for getting at  different selections

some people consider it a bit anal to be so  fussy but i consider it minimal

Ps : got a 1000 ft on order of white ash  for spring delivery fo use on a  project its still standing in the forest

Daleinok's picture

(post #73711, reply #15 of 22)



Your shop sounds good and your shelving like I might like to have, especially with the same amount of wood I'm getting.  Do you by any chance have a way to take a picture of them.  If your like I am. I have all the cameras and things to do them with but lack all the knowledge to do it.


Thanks again


*None of the secrets of success will work unless you do!

pagoda's picture

(post #73711, reply #17 of 22)

Your sure right about the camera thing , the darn thing came with a 200 page instruction manual .

Hell no other machine i have bought in recent years  has as many instructions. 

As for the shelving brackets the are on page 124  of their tool catalogue 

The wall straps come in  24" & 55"  the  shelf brackets come  10 14 or 18" long

Each bracket holds up to 300 lbs

I mounted the straps to studs16" oc  using  a pilot hole and lags  , a air impact does a good job  driving in the lags  

 Hope this is of some help  to you

DennisS's picture

(post #73711, reply #16 of 22)

Yer welcome, Doc, but if you're information is correct, then mine was not. With respect to the hardwood vs softwood issue as it relates to Eastern and Western cedars. Western Red Cedar (WRC;thuja plicata ) is not the 'aromatic' cedar one associates with closet linings, linings for "cedar" chests and so forth. So admitedly there's a lot of veriation from 'cedar' to cedar. Surprisingly the fronds of the Eastern WhiteCedar (thuja occidentalis) are remarkably similar to those of t. plicata. This species/genus/ect., is noted to be "resonous".

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is as has been noted, not a true cedar but a juniper. What little reading I've done on either of these leads me to believe you must be using the white cedar (t. occidentalis) since the red cedar does not appear to be commercially viable as a harvestable lumber product due to its slow growth and stature. I could, by all means, be wrong as well.

I was under the impression that you took your milled lumber directly from the saw carriage at the sawmill. Since that's not the case, the 4-6 months of storage would be, in the case of 'our' cedar here on the left coast, probably sufficient time for most of the pitch to have gelled to a point where it lacks the viscosity to be a major problem. I still think, though that if your cedar is not kiln dried there is a potential for pitch migrating to the surface.

Daleinok's picture

(post #73711, reply #21 of 22)



Sorry about getting back to you earlier.  You were commenting on the Eastern Red Cedar and it being from the Juniper family.  You are correct and the true name is: Juniper us Virginiana L as you stated.  The Color is mostly red heart wood, thin whitish sapwood, it is most commonly used for cedar chest, closet interiors.  It is highly aromatic, has a natural resistance to insect damage.  The density is a hard texture grain, very knotty-grain varies around knots.  It is a very slow growing tree, and for that reason I can usually only get it in 8 - 10' lengths.  Also due to the slow growth and height of the tree there are not that many sawyers that will mess with it, but I find it has such a beautiful color and appeal to the patio furniture that I just like working with it, PLUS I LOVE THE AROMA OF THE WOOD.

Again thanks for keeping me straight.


*None of the secrets of success will work unless you do!

DennisS's picture

(post #73711, reply #22 of 22)

Doc -

Thus far in all your contributions here you've demonstrated a true passion for your involvement in woodworking. All I can say is 'Bravo!' for that. Discovering a passion, any passion that keeps the mind and body, which collectively I think can be called the spirit, active is just cause for celebration.


I just hope I'm as fortunate when I grow up. (grin)

stantheman's picture

(post #73711, reply #8 of 22)


I have never seen outdoor furniture made with ERC.  It is really a juniper not cedar so not related to the western cedar used for decks, fences and shingles. Its fairly light and brittle, so you don't see much indoor furniture made with it either - just boxes, chests, knickknacks and linings.  Have you used it before?  DOn't mean to second guess you, but curious.   

Daleinok's picture

(post #73711, reply #9 of 22)


Mr. stantheman

Eastern Red Cedar is a hard wood as opposed to western Red.  As you stated Western Red is used for fences, light weight stuff.  Yes  I have been using Eastern Red for outdoor and indoor furniture for many years, only in a very limited part as my work would allow.

One of the main things I need to know was the drying of the wood.  The saw mill that I just got my wood from just cuts it so it is green, however He usually cuts it and stores it for about 4 - 6 mo. maybe to lower the moisture.  I have been using it and have not had a problem to my knowledge.

Maybe one of you can tell me if that is the case.  I am as we speak in the process of stacking and sticking this wood. (1200 sq ft) I don't have a rack build yet so have marked off a spot by the area I will be placing my rack, just need to unload my trailer.



*None of the secrets of success will work unless you do!

Hairface's picture

(post #73711, reply #19 of 22)

I looks like you have plenty of good advice, but I'm going to put my 2 cents in . I envy you and the size of shop you have, I'm and Custom Furniture builder and Repair shop , but working from a two stall garage. A lumber Rack down the middle of the shop from floor to ceiling,and the basement has NO more room to store any more lumber . I Air dry my own and even after it's dry I still keep it stickered until I use it, and always make sure the end are sealed even after I cut off part of a board. Over the years I have noticed that raw lumber will absorb moisture as the humidity goes up and down,and if I have it is  stored outdoors and I get ready to use it , I try to keep enough in the shop to do the next project, just to condition it to the tempature and humidity inside. Keeping lumber stickered all the time it's raw keeps it from a chance of mildew and keeps it from following the next boards cupping and or warping.

And for the furniture that is being used outdoors , unless its pressure treated lumber I would still air day it for a few months, cause if you put it together with moisture in the lumber , you still have the chance of the lumber cupping and warping after it's built, Voice of experience.

Furniture by Douglas G,R,Mi . Building Furniture to become heirlooms  

eddiefromAustralia's picture

(post #73711, reply #20 of 22)


Before you get covered in dust - (I'm unsure of what species you've got there) do a google search on the species and allergens.

Western Red Cedar is noted for rapidly sensitising skin and nasal issues (I think that the dust is also a low-level carcinogen, more so than a lot of other timbers.)

All cedars are renowned for the skin sensitisation and causing nasal irritation.



Edited 1/1/2006 1:13 pm by eddiefromAustralia