Wednesday, July 11

Wednesday – Seal & Stack Lumber

This morning I had some errands to run, so I got a late start on things, then I had a bid that needed to get finished up, then I had this pile of about 400 board feet of freshly milled red oak lumber that arrived yesterday and is sitting in the floor in the lumber shed.

To turn freshly milled (aka green) lumber into seasoned hardwood suitable for use in furniture making, it can not sit in a pile like this for very long. The ends of the boards must be sealed to prevent the very porous end of the boards from giving up their inner moisture and shrinking faster than the rest of the board. This uneven shrinking is what causes a board to start splitting at the ends. Seal the end grain to slow the moisture evaporation and the whole board dries, and shrinks, evenly. Also, green lumber will want to cup, twist, bow, and warp – if you let it – as it dries. Again, this is often a result of uneven drying.

To reduce these tendencies we “sticker stack” the lumber in piles, held off the ground, with narrow boards between each layer of lumber and spaces between each board in the layer. This way air is allowed to flow freely around all sides of all boards, so they dry evenly. And the weight exerted on the boards by the boards above them keep them flat as they dry.

As I go through a pile of new lumber, sealing the ends and stacking the boards, I cull out the lower quality boards to be placed in the very top layers of the pile. Cap boards and cement blocks are placed on top of these, but if they prove insufficient weight to prevent all cupping, ant least they were the least valuable boards on the stack.

This pile is now just about as high as I am tall, so I shall be putting no more lumber on this pile. We have 3' & 4" thick Holly on the bottom, some ash above that then the new red oak in the nice neat upper tw-thirds of the pile. This pile will be left alone to sit for at least a year so the wood can season. This was all very pretty wood, it should yield some excellent lumber.

It took me six hours to accomplish this – partly because the red oak had been cut with a band mill and was encrusted to a layer of saw dust that I needed to brush off before stacking it – my back and shoulders are aching and I’m drenched with sweat. This freshly sawn oak has a lot of water in it and it's HEAVY. It’s a bit early, but I’m going home to take a shower and rest a bit before Marie and I have to go into town for a couple of meetings.

Blake, Marilyn, I’ll be back to work on your curio tomorrow.

See you then,


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