Lumber Storage 101: Woodworker's Guide to Storing Lumber in Your Home or Yard
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Lumber Storage 101: Woodworker's Guide to Storing Lumber in Your Home or Yard

As an avid woodworker, my heart shudders at the mere sight of how some woodworkers store their lumber, their stock in trade. For many new woodworkers who really take great pride in their handcrafted pieces, the improper storage of their expensive hardwood can be attributed to ignorance. Some people think that ignorance is bliss but, in this case, it’s a bliss accompanied with a very high price tag when kiln-dried hardwoods costs from $2.00 a bd. Ft. (Board Foot) to well over $15.00 a bd. Ft. for some of the more exotic imported hardwoods. However, there’s more at stake here then just money, it’s your reputation as a fine woodworker.

The use of improper storage methods can destroy these expensive, beautiful exotic woods in a matter of days. The first principle for storing your raw materials is to protect them from the environmental elements. The hardwoods used in fine furniture making are “Kiln-Dried.” Kiln-dried lumber has 92 to 94 percent of moisture removed from it before it’s declared a finished product ready for sale to the end user. Removing moisture from the wood during the kiln-drying process causes the wood to shrink to its final size. This is important to the woodworker because it means that the tight, expertly formed joints that he/she makes will remain tight and beautiful once the piece leaves his/her shop. Improper storage allows moisture to re-enter the wood causing it to swell and expand. The problem here is that the wood will shrink again as it dries out and all those nice tight, beautiful joints that you made with such loving attention will become loose, ugly joints after the piece leaves your shop.

Storing your lumber indoors, out of the elements, is just the first step in storing you lumber properly. If possible, the lumber should be stored in an area where the temperature and humidity can be controlled. If you are using part of a two or three car garage or a small outbuilding for a shop, that’s not always possible but it’s the ideal conditions to aim for. When I built my shop that sits behind our manufactured home, I spent as much money insulating it, heating it, and cooling it as I did our home and my wife thought I was nuts. She still does but she loves the fine furniture I produce in it.

Lumber should be stored off the floor because it will absorb moisture from the floor. Hardwood and softwood boards as well as other dimensional lumber should be stored flat on racks. Plywood and other sheet goods can be stored on edge but it to should be stored off the floor for the same reasons. When I built my shop, I wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel so I took full advantage of all the free plans that were available for the taking online. Here is a link to plans for a lumber rack from Proven Woodworking. This plan is easy to modify to meet your storage needs. When I built mine, I increased the sheet goods storage area.

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Comments (1)

We specialize in racks made for storing lumber and other sheet goods. If you need cantilever rack or just some info on capacities we are happy to help.