4 Tips for Storing Lumber

Wood can be super finicky when it comes to storing it. As a natural product, it reacts to the environment around it. As a woodworker, it is helpful to understand how wood reacts to its environment. From there, you can manipulate it to do what you want. Wood storage is an important piece of that puzzle. Here are our top four need-to-know wood storage tips to get the most out of your lumber:

Keep it Flat

The best way to keep wood straight and flat is by storing it straight and flat. It’s also important to store lumber in piles and not as individual boards. Because wood reacts to its environment, keeping the temperature, humidity, and airflow equal on both sides of a board is important. If you want to learn more about wood movement, check out our blog series, “Wood and Water Relationships.”

When you lean a board against a wall, you expose each side of it to different temperatures, humidity, and air flows. Most likely, one side of the board will shrink and/or swell more than the other side. This will cause twisting, bowing, and cupping. This same thing can happen if you lay a single board flat on a table or the floor. One side of the board won’t be exposed to the same conditions as the other.

Keep it Dry

Wood and water really aren’t the best of friends. In fact, they are almost enemies. Because lumber needs to be dried before it’s turned into a finished product, you need to make sure not to expose dry lumber to water.

It’s important to store your dry lumber in a place where it won’t get wet. Keep it directly off the floor with skids or store it on shelves where there are no roof leaks. This will drastically help keep your lumber at its top quality.

Storing dry lumber outdoors should be avoided at all costs. The outside elements include water and drastic changes in temperature.

However, there is no issue with storing green lumber outside. If going this route, use stickers between each course of lumber to help it dry. Some woodworkers make a lean to for storing lumber outside. A lean to will help keep rain and/or snow off the lumber which will increase the drying rate.

Keep it in Your Shop

Another way to keep your lumber at its top quality is to keep it stored in your shop. To prevent lumber from moving after you cut into it, it’s important to let it acclimate to the shop conditions for a week before machining it.

But if your lumber is stored in your shop, there’s no need to let it sit around and acclimate. This means when you’re ready to start a project, you don’t have to wait. And even better, it doesn’t sacrifice quality!

Many times, woodworkers are forced to store their lumber outside of their shop due to the lack of space. Although it’s not ideal, this can still work. Many people will store their lumber in their basement. Most basements have a relatively dry environment for most of the year. This will help prevent the lumber from shrinking and swelling excessively over the season changes. While this isn’t the most ideal situation, it can work if it is your only option.

Keep it Organized

Organization helps you to find your lumber when you need it. It’s best to organize your lumber based on specie and thickness, and possibly even length. By incorporating organization into your lumber storage strategy, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle down the road.

When you buy top-quality lumber, you want to make sure it stays at the highest quality possible. These four lumber storing tips will help you keep your lumber at its top quality.

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  1. Pam Williams

    Hi I some milled live edge black walnut planks, mantles, and book matches. I’m wanting to know how much $ per board feet they would be worth. I have the specs and have calculated the bf just don’t know what a dollar amount would be for the various cuts I have acquired.

    • Jessica Becker

      Live edge slabs vary greatly in price based on its characteristics. Kiln dried slabs will also be more expensive than green slabs. The best way to price your slabs is to find slabs similar to what you have and price yours competitive to that.


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