How Much Weight to Apply to Stickered Lumber?
Issue: Issue 283
Posted Date: 9/6/2011
I'm experimenting with cutting some
lumber on a big band saw. The only thing I don't want to learn by
trial and error is how much weight do I need to put on the drying
pile(s). Two of the logs are dry. They have laid in the dry for
years. I just cut down a Bradford pear and learned that is really
heavy wet wood. But I wanted to find out what the wood is like - and
couldn't see a clear trunk go to firewood. The ends are
painted. The logs are only about three feet long, and I plan to cut
1-1/8 or 1/14 thick. Does the thickness affect the amount of weight
needed? -Brooke Althouse
Tim Inman: The thickness of the
boards is not so important relative to weight as it is to drying
time. Most of my references recommend one year per one inch of wood
thickness. In my experience, this is minimal. I usually weight my
stickered lumber piles with a few concrete blocks laid on a plastic
tarp cover. You do not want to allow the concrete (or whatever weight
you use) to contact the wood, or it will stain the lumber.
I doubt the logs will be dry. Unless
the bark has been removed, the logs will still be pretty wet. Bark is
like Mother Nature's plastic bag. It will not allow much moisture to
leave the wood. When you cut the lumber, be sure to get it stacked
and stickered immediately. We use 1 X 1 sticker wood, cut 4-feet
long. Keep the stickers going straight up the stack, so all the
weight is pressing directly down on them. You do not want the
stickers randomly placed throughout the stack. This will cause the
wood to set with curves and bends. Also, keep the outside of the
stack even and neat. Don't build a wood pyramid! If the wood goes up
square and straight on the outside, like a big box, the weight is
equalized over the whole stack. If you make a pyramid, then there is
more weight in the middle than the edges.
Wood is commonly cut in "quarters"
or quarter-inch increments. 4-quarter wood is one-inch thick at the
sawmill; 5-quarter wood is one and one-quarter inches thick. I'd
suggest staying with the standard cuts. In today's world,
4-quarter wood is pretty thick, and it will dry faster than
5-quarter. Whatever you do, saw those logs and save that wood! There
is nothing more pleasurable for me than making something beautiful
and useful from wood I have saved from the fire or the dump.