Some property owners have equipment for moving logs, which increases the efficiency of the project. But have no fear, we can roll the logs onto the lift arms manually with handheld cant hooks.
If you plan to air dry your boards, they must be stacked properly or you will waste your effort, as the wood will warp, twist, cup, bend, mildew or split.
Most of those effects can be reduced or eliminated with proper handling. Begin with a flat base, it doesn’t have to be level, just flat, so your boards will stack straight. As this is not treated wood, the bottom row needs to be away from the soil to prevent moisture uptake.
A concrete slab is perfect. If that is not possible, you need to begin with a row of solid supports, such as concrete blocks, or treated timbers.
Your bottom row should be on a row of 2 x 4s or 2 x 6s. Place a row of 1×1 stickers on top the 2 x 4s to accept the bottom layer of your boards.
Stickers are placed directly above the previous sticker, to provide solid foundations. There should be no stickers in a column that doesn’t extend all the way to the ground. This will prevent sagging of the stack.
The stickers at the end should be as close to the end as possible, to prevent splitting of the board as it dries. Stickers should extend all the way across the stack, so no part of the board is unsupported. It is preferable to stack higher rather than wider, as the weight of the stack keeps the boards in alignment.
Each layer of boards need to be of equal thickness to provide full contact with stickers. Stickers need not be exactly 1×1, but the need to all be of equal dimension for any row of boards. If using smaller stickers be aware that drying airflow will be reduced.
Stickers should be made of dry wood or other non-staining material. I sometimes cut stickers from the logs that are being sawed if no dry source is available.
Tom the Sawyer, a Kansas sawyer, says;
How many stickers do you need? That depends on the total board feet you will be drying, the lengths and thicknesses of your lumber, along with the species. Each end of the boards should be supported and there should be stickers spaced equally for the length of the boards – usually from 12 to 24″ apart. A stack of pine 2×10″s could be spaced every 24″ while a stack of highly figured 4/4 walnut would probably do better spaced every 12″. For most of my lumber I space at about 16″ so a layer of 8′ long boards would require 7 stickers. For example; if I needed to stack 500 board feet of lumber, a 3′ deep layer of 4/4×8′ boards would use about 23 bf per layer (allow a little for spaces). That means that it will take about 22 layers (always round up) for 500 board feet. At 7 stickers per layer that would be about 154 stickers. If some of the boards were milled thicker then there may be fewer layers but you should always mill enough of each thickness to complete a layer.
When the stack is complete, put a top layer of stickers on and cover the stack with a layer of roofing tin or plywood to keep off the sun and rain; also provide clearance from a wall or side obstruction to allow good air flow.
When the moisture content reaches around 20% you can bring the wood inside for continued drying.
1” board will air dry to 12-15% moisture in one year. Furniture grade wood should be dried to 8% moisture.
For a complete guide to air or kiln drying your lumber, refer to this free guide on the Wood-Mizer website. CLICK HERE.