How to Dry Rough Cut Lumber

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The most economical way to buy lumber is to buy it in its rough cut form. Rough cut lumber is cut green and skips a couple of finishing steps at the sawmill. Commercial lumber is smoothed and dried so that it is able to be used as soon as it is purchased. Rough cut lumber is cheaper but it has to undergo a drying process before it suitable for use. The drying time depends on the thickness of the lumber as well as the location and climate. Rough cut lumber will take at least a year to dry, therefore, an essential step in working with rough cut timber is to plan ahead.

Things You'll Need

  • Pallets
  • Stacking strips
  • Choose a protected outside location. Air drying lumber requires a substantial amount of time and this requires that it be protected from rain and the other natural elements. Find, or build, a covered area to store the lumber. The drying area also needs good air circulation for the lumber to dry efficiently.

  • Purchase used pallets to store the lumber on. Search for used pallets at local factories and home improvement stores and place an add in the classified section of the local paper. Pallets are ideal for storing lumber. They keep the lumber off the ground and slats in the pallets allow for ventilation and air circulation. Measure the length of the wood to determine the number of pallets that are needed.

  • Place the rough cut lumber of top of the pallets. Leave a 1 inch gap between the pieces of lumber. Place protective stacking strips on top of the first layer before adding the second layer. The strips should be 1 x 1 and 48 inches long and placed 12 to 24 inches apart. Stack the second layer. Continue the process until all the lumber is completely stacked.

  • Allow the lumber to air dry for the appropriate amount of time. The general rule is that 1 inch of thickness corresponds to one year of drying time. Therefore, if the lumber is 2 inches thick it requires two years. However, other factors to consider are humidity and climate.

  • Store the lumber inside to complete the drying process. Once the lumber has dried outside for the appropriate amount of time, storing it indoors for a week removes the remaining bits of moisture.

References

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