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Storing Kiln-Dried Wood Outside

Wrap tightly in plastic and protect from rain. January 17, 2011

I'm going to be getting several hundred BF of kiln dried wood, and I don't have the room to store it all undercover. The wood will be 4/4, 6/4, 8/4, and some 1/2". Hard and soft maple, red and white oak, and elm.

My plan is to store the bulk of it outside. I will use 2 or 3 railroad ties to support the stack off the ground, and then spread a layer of large, thick plastic. I will then dead-stack the lumber on top of this plastic. When all is stacked, I'll pull the plastic sheet sides up and over the stack as tight as possible, and secure. This will be the storage of the bulk of my lumber.

Periodically I'll open the stack and pull 50 board feet or so to mill in my shop. I will then carefully enclose my outside stack. The 50 board feet in my shop will take me 2 weeks to mill to my desired dimensions.

Assuming my wood starts at 6% moisture, will I have trouble with it gaining moisture outside if stored in this manner? If I have 50 board feet uncovered in my shop for milling purposes for two weeks, will its moisture gain be negligible? Most of my milling will be creating trim and/or resawing to thin stock.

I'll be inspecting my lumber often for threats of bugs and rodents. I am near Marshfield, Wisconsin, and I will begin this process early May.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor S:
I don't like the idea, but if you don't have any options, make your pile in an area that won't get much if any direct sunlight. Heating up and cooling down every day will give you a lot of condensation.

From the original questioner:
Hmm... I need some sort of insulation, don't I?

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
It will be perfect, as you described it. No moisture can get in or out, so the MC of the wood will not change. Temperature is not important. A few water drops are not important. Make sure that the wood warms up (if it is cold outside) before processing.

From the original questioner:
Wow - thanks, Gene. That's great news. But are you saying it's not a good idea for me to resaw and/or mold lumber if it's cold? How warm are you talking, because I planned on working a lot of days without heating the shop. How long does it take to warm up a 4/4 piece of wood of each species?

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
You can machine cold lumber in a cold environment, but not if the environment is warmer than the lumber. Cold lumber is a big issue when using an adhesive. How long? I would think at least six hours, but it might be even longer. It depends on several factors.