There are many handy men who like to use air-dried lumber because the color is more brilliant and true. Air-drying your own lumber will save you approximately half the money that you would spend on pre-dried stock. In order to save money, you must know how to do it the proper way. It may take some extra time at first until you learn the proper way. The United States Forest Services Forest Products Laboratory located in Madison, Wisconsin reports that a one inch-thick green board will take approximately 45-60 days to air-dry to 15-20 percent.
You will need to pick an open storage spot. Avoid damp, boggy, or low areas. You will need to keep your stack of wood from being stored under trees. The trees will drop leaves and other debris on top of your wood. You will also need to keep your wood from being in too much sun; the wood will dry too fast. Another factor in drying your own wood is wind. The wind should blow into the sides of the wood, not the ends of the stack.
Stop the Degrade
Most companies that sell air-dried lumber will dip the wood in an anti-stain sealer. They will then place stickers onto the pieces. Stickers in the lumber industry are actually small pieces of wood that separate the green wood layers. When making your own dried wood, you can do the same. You will purchase a latex paint or commercial sealant. Some suggest using Sealtite 60 or Mobilicer-M. Paint this onto the end of your green wood in order to protect the ends of your wood. For the stickers, use soft woods like cottonwood or any low-grade lumber.
Other Tips to Follow
When building the foundation for your stack of wood, make sure to level it. There should be a small slope in order to provide drainage. To save your wood from dampness, place a vapor barrier on the ground. The wood that you use should be no thicker than two inches and less than 12 feet in width. It should be straight grained and must have no defects. Check on your wood occasionally for stains or mildew. If you see either, it is a sign that your wood is drying too slowly. If you want to go the extra mile, purchasing a moisture meter is a wonderful idea. They range in prices, but most are sold for approximately one hundred dollars. They are very reliable in watching moisture levels.
It may sound a little advanced or difficult. However, once you go through the process one time, you can reuse your location and wood foundation. The process will become second nature, and you will also learn as you go. It will save you approximately half the money you would typically spend each time you go through the process on your own. It will take more money to start up the initial set up, but it will be about the same price as if you were to just buy the dried lumbar for the project.