One of the best ways to season lumber before using it in construction or woodworking projects is to let it sit and dry out naturally in a humidity-controlled environment. This may be the slowest method of drying your wood, but it’s absolutely worthwhile if you can manage it and have the space for it in your home. Just keep in mind that drying times can vary broadly depending on the type of wood you have, the thickness and density of the lumber, the initial moisture level in the lumber, the ambient conditions in your drying area and other processing techniques used.
Here are some tips from a lumber store in Houston about drying out your wood at home:
- Make sure you process the logs as quickly as possible: If you just recently cut down a tree or have a tree that suffered storm damage, it’s important to process the logs to turn them into lumber as quickly as possible. This will help you speed up the drying process while also allowing you to avoid rot and stains. You can always tell wood has been poorly processed if there are areas that have experienced spalting or been partially rotted.
- Go a little larger than you think you need to: Wood shrinks during the drying process, so cutting the lumber a little oversized is a good idea. Keep in mind that you’ll also be losing some material when jointing and planing the material to get smooth surfaces, which is just another reason to cut your green wood a little larger than the ultimate finished size you’re going for.
- Seal off each end: While you want to make sure you process the logs quickly, it’s also important to note that drying too rapidly can also result in some problems for your lumber, such as splits and checking at the endgrain. Sealing off the ends of the boards can help prevent the wood from drying out too quickly, because moisture escapes 10 times faster (or more) on the ends of a piece of lumber than through other surfaces. By sealing off the endgrain, you encourage a more even, predictable drying process. You can use polyurethane, paraffin wax, latex paint or some types of shellac.
- Stickers: Once you get to the point where you’re ready to stack up your wood, make sure they’re exposed to air on all sides. You do this with the use of stickers, small pieces of wood (3/4” x 1-1/2”) that create a little bit of space in between sawn planks. This provides greater ventilation and allows for a more even drying process.
- Put on weight: Once you’ve completely stacked the wood, you can add some weight to the stack to prevent distortion or warping, which tends to happen in the early drying phases. The boards at the top will need something placed on them to make this work.
For more information about drying your own wood, contact Houston Hardwoods Inc. or pay a visit to our lumber store in Houston today.