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How long is long enough to air dry?

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  • How long is long enough to air dry?

    Found a post on my local Craigs list recently for Oak, Maple and a couple others at a good price. Said it was sawed and neatly stacked, stored in the garage/barn to dry for the about 8 months. Is that long enough? What is the norm?


  • #2
    Re: How long is long enough to air dry?

    "Neatly stacked" could mean any number of things with some of them not so good. Read this tutorial about air drying lumber and then make your decision after you've seen the stack of lumber. If the wood has been properly stickered, 8 months should be long enough for it to be dried properly.
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    ------- Henry Ford


    • #3
      Re: How long is long enough to air dry?

      if properly stickered, the rule of thumb is a year per inch of thickness,

      a lot would have to do if that has been mostly winter time and high humidity I would definitely want to use a moisture meter on it before building any thing, and some will say one needs it kiln dried for furniture or cabinets. if one has an attic or in the rafters of an out building it will usually help dry it further as well. in my area 8 months for inch thick would most likely be OK, but we usually have very low humidity, I usually try for a year and that is stickerd and stacked inside of an out building,
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      • #4
        Re: How long is long enough to air dry?

        Depends on the type of wood: If "stickered (i.e spacers between the wood slabs), and the thickness. Denser woods take longer to dry. In Michigan, oak or walnut will still be "green", but if it is 4/4 or 5/4, a few months in your attic will bring it down to workable use. Maple and cherry may be getting close at 4/4 in 8 months, but I still would give it a month in the shop.

        If the wood is just stacked with no stickers/spacers, the center of the boards will still be almost as wet as when milled. Do not carry them in an open pick-up or trailer without covering them with a tarp. Highway speeds will dry them too fast and they will crack/checker on the flat surface. Cover them until you get it home and then sticker and strap for at least 8 months or longer. Then they can be moved to the attic next year. Keep them out of direct sunlight and rain exposure.

        Most wood when first cut from the log (even if the log has been laying around for a year) will have a 35 - 50% moisture content. Until this drops below 20%, drying too fast will result in damage; damage that may not show up until it dries to the 8 - 10% maximum needed for making furniture. That is why it is best to cover the wood when transporting, because the evaporation rate at highway speeds or in direct sunlight is very rapid. [I learned this the hard way with 14' by 6"wide 8/4 black walnut. The damage did not show up until a year after I got the wood home. I lost 28 bf of beautiful wood (the two top boards)of a 100 bf purchase. 60 miles of interstate checked them to the point of unusable except for pen blank size].

        If the wood is 8/4 (2" thick), it will need another 8 - 16 months to dry out enough for use.


        Practicing at practical wood working


        • #5
          Re: How long is long enough to air dry?

          It depends on a lot of factors, including thickness of the wood, how it was stickered (is there enough room to allow good air flow), location, temperature, etc. There isn't enough information in your post to make that determination. Your best bet is to take a moisture meter and see for yourself.