3 Reasons Why Your Lumber Isn't Straight

Processing your logs into boards can dramatically increase their value…if they come out & stay straight! This isn’t always as easy as it sounds -- wood is an extremely complex material to work with—however for the majority of the time, it is one of three things that is causing your lumber to come out warped, cupped, or flared.

Here are 3 common causes of less than perfect lumber & how to prevent them.

How to Avoid Warped and Cupping Lumber

Have you ever milled straight looking lumber, only to come back to it later and find that it’s cupping? Cross-cutting the grain is likely the culprit here. It can lead to warping or cupping—even if you lumber initially comes off the mill straight.

When setting up to mill, it is important that you compensate for the taper in the log. Raising the small end up using toe boards will allow you cut parallel to the growth rings on the tree. If you’re milling material to make cabinets and furniture, the best color and grain patterns will come from cutting this way as well.

How to Avoid Tapered and Flared Cuts

The most common cause of a tapered cut is too much overhang from the last bunk on your mill. As a rule of thumb, you should keep your log overhang within a foot or less of the bunk.

Depending on the lengths you are working with, this may mean cutting longer than you need (for example, cutting 12 ft even though you’re trying to produce 9 ft). We’re sure you can get creative with the cut-offs, anyway.

If you frequently work with oddball sizes, another option for you would be to add an additional bunk to your mill. This sort of situation is one of the reasons why Norwoods are component system mills. You can customize it to work for your exact application.

Dry Your Lumber Properly

All of the effort you put towards milling your boards goes down the drain if you do not sticker and stack them properly.

This one is so important, we have dedicated an entire blog post to the topic. Check it out here.

More on This Topic

Compensating for Log Stress

Stacking lumber correctly

Thoughts on Building a Kiln