Basement drying basics

      The Wood Doctor prescribes proper drying procedures for a small batch in a basement. June 21, 2000

Q.
I just purchased 250 board feet of 5/4 black cherry that has been air drying in a barn for several months.

I was told by the mill operator that the moisture content (MC) was about 18 percent.

I just stored this lumber in my basement and stickered it about every 2 to 3 feet, with 3/4 kiln-dried pine.

My questions are:

1) Is it O.K. that I've stacked this lumber in my basement to dry at 18 percent MC [i.e., is the differential in the temp between outside (~35 - 45 degree F) and inside (~ 68 - 70 degree F) going to dry it too fast and warp the wood];

2) Do my stickers need to be closer together;

3) Should I be running a fan;

4) If it needs more stickering or if I've moved it into my basement too soon, will one day in my basement have harmed the lumber, and

5) Should the sides of the boards be touching each other in a row?

Also, what would be considered 'enough' weight on my pile? It is stacked wide and low. Should I narrow and heighten the stack?

Note: My house temperature is about 68 degrees F, it is mid-April in central Ontario. It is cool (40 - 50 degrees F) and somewhat damp outside, but has been rather dry in previous weeks.

A.
Your questions indicate that you really need to read a book about the basics of drying ASAP. There is more to it than your questions cover.

1) Is it O.K. that I've stacked this lumber in my basement to dry at 18 percent MC
It is O.K. if the relative humidity (RH)is low. It will take energy, so it will cool the basement; it will also raise the RH.

3) Will it dry too fast and warp the wood
No.

2) Do my stickers need to be closer together
No, not at this MC.

3) Should I be running a fan
Yes, to stir up the air.

4) If it needs more stickering or if I've moved it into my basement too soon, will one day in my basement have harmed the lumber?
No, just remember that there's a profound difference between air and kiln drying.

5) Should the sides of the boards be touching each other in a row?
It's O.K. at this MC, especially if the pack is under 6 feet wide.

Also, what would be considered as 'enough' weight on my pile?
The best is about 10 inches of concrete over the entire stack.

It is stacked wide and low. Should I narrow and heighten the stack? It is probably better to be narrow; 4 feet wide is good, if the stack is stable.
Gene Wengert, forum moderator



From the original questioner:
Thank you for responding to my questions so promptly. They are very helpful. Yes, I do need to read more about wood drying soon. Are there any books that you suggest?


My personal favorite book is "Wood and How to Dry It" from the Taunton Press. [Editor's note: This title was recommended by a participant other than the moderator]



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Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Lumber & Plywood: Storage

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: Air Drying Lumber

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: Kiln Operation

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base


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