Stickering and Spacing

      No need to space boards when air-drying small batches. February 26, 2005

I've just sawn up a stack of bluegum eucalypt here in OZ, to use as floorboards.

I recently read an article on air drying, which mentioned that stacks less than 5' wide don't need horizontal spaces between the boards, but just keep the vertical spaces (stickers). Is this okay?

I am not quite ready to stack this timber and don't have anything to weight the top, but am going to strap it down for the meantime while I fabricate some concrete slabs. What are your thoughts?

Forum Responses
From contributor E:
I usually use my fingers as guides for horizontal spacing. Where is OZ?

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
There is no reason whatsoever to use spacing between the pieces of lumber in a stack. This was a practice used for 8 foot and wider stacks years ago in huge air drying yards with poor air flow.

Blue gum does have some stress in it, so weighting the top of the pack will result in flatter lumber. I have seen it used for structures.

OZ - Australia. Blue gum is one of the eucalyptus species.

From the original questioner:
Yep, Oz is Australia.

I want to use them as floorboards. I've milled them 1" thick and 4 and 1/2" wide - not too conversant with the US system of writing them as 2/4, 4/4 or whatever, so I hope this is okay.

I've placed my stickers 11" apart between rows and have strapped the pile with ratchet-type tie down straps. Does this sound acceptable? This is the first 10% of what I need to mill for our floor, so it would be okay if I've messed up this lot, but I want to get it right pretty quick so I don't do a whole lot of hard work to lay a bunch of terrible floorboards! I've got 250 square metres to cover (about 3.1 foot to the metre).

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Sounds perfect to me so far. Hope you can get it dry enough so it will not dry in place and warp and shrink.

From contributor A:
I'm about a week away from putting in building plans to local council. Then I want to use these boards in the house. My plan was a couple/few weeks air drying under a tarp on poles with shade cloth around the sides for the first week or so, then open the shade cloth at each end of the stack to try and funnel air flow through the stack for another week or so. In the meantime, contact locals with a solar kiln to finish off, hopefully before I need the boards for the house. What a schedule! I know I need to let the boards do their thing at their rate to reduce possible defects, so I hope this isn't too fast. The timber will be in rooms with AC in summer, slow combustion wood heaters in winter, so maybe I should look at getting it down to about 10 or 12% before machining and ultimately laying…

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