How to Cure Raw Lumber

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How to Cure Raw Lumber. It takes years to cure raw lumber, but it is worth it if your hobby is making fine woodwork. A good woodworker most likely will have a stash of exotic wood. In order to acquire the best wood at an affordable price, buy it before it goes to the lumber yard. You can get top quality wood before it gets expensive by winning an eBay auction or buying directly from dealers. The average cut of the planks is two inches thick and in variable widths and lengths. This wood is still not ready to use. You must cure it first because it is still raw and fresh from the forest.

Things You'll Need

  • Storage area
  • Hand-held moisture meter
  • Buy the wood in the fresh fall weather while the sap is down. It is most likely already 3/4 dryer than it was at the time it was harvested. This wood is raw (sometimes referred to as green lumber).

  • Unload, stack and store the raw lumber in a dry location (either in your garage or on the back of your property) out of the way as it will need to sit and continue to dry out cure for another two years or longer.

  • Make sure the lumber has air that can circulate and that it is stored so that it will stay dry. If storing outside, tent the lumber so that air can circulate over the raw lumber. If you have a barn, this is a great place to put the lumber. Stack the lumber so it will stay flat as this will prevent any warping of the wood.

  • Create dunnage (or stickers) to help in stacking the wood. These are small pieces of dried wood that measure approximately 1 inch thick and 1½ inches wide with the length being the same as the depth of the wood pile. There should be 2 to 3 pieces of dunnage between each board to allow the air to circulate and keep an even drying process. It is best to put dunnage pieces at each end because that will protect the ends from warping.

  • Cure the wood to around 7 percent moisture content. Use a moisture meter to check. Periodically check and turn the wood to be sure all is well and there is no cracking. Now, sit back and dream of what you plan to make with the wood.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have access to a wood kiln, you can speed up the process.
  • When putting the dried wood into your shop, let it rest for two weeks to "shop dry" before beginning your project. This will allow it to all have the same moisture content.
  • Different types of wood will need to dry to different percentages of humidity.
  • If material suddenly starts to split, you will just have to throw it away or find another use for it.
  • Remember it will take a few years to dry.

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