Stickers & Blocking 101: How to Stack & Dry Lumber

The most valuable lumber you’re ever going to mill isn’t oak, walnut, or even something exotic. The valuable lumber we’re talking about, you will probably never sell a single piece of...

Stickers!

These 1-inch thick pieces of lumber are unsung heroes, responsible for preserving & maximizing the value of your milled lumber. When you air dry your lumber, stickers & blocking (larger pieces of timber – often 4x4, to keep your stack up off the ground) facilitate proper & even drying. Using stickers & blocking, you are allowing air to flow under and through your lumber stack.

What Happens When You Don’t Stack Lumber Properly?

-        decay

-        twisting

-        warping

In short, you end up with expensive firewood at best.

There are 2 Popular Methods for Stacking & Air-Drying Lumber


European:


This less common method is favored by craftsmen. Here, your boards are stacked in order that they are milled, keeping similar grain & color together. Stacking this way would make it much easier for you to bookmatch.




Conventional:

Stack in multiple layers. The video below demonstrates this method.





How to Sticker & Stack Properly

-        Build your pile to sit perpendicular to prevailing wind

-        Dry your stickers prior to use to avoid sticker stain in lumber. Be sure all stickers are the same thickness.

-        Ensure all boards on the same layer are the exact same thickness.

-        Place stickers about every 12 inches and be sure to place stickers right at the end of each row to prevent ends warping

-        Once your stack is complete, top it with something to shed water off the boards below. In the video below, Dave uses scrap boards to create a pyramid. Roofing tin is another option. Tarping is used by some, but we don’t recommend this as it can hold moisture in.

-        The rule of thumb for air drying is 1 year per inch thickness.

How to Make Stickers

If you are making all of your stickers at once, you should choose to sacrifice your ugliest log. Otherwise, you can produce a few stickers here and there by using scrap pieces that are too small for any other use.

Watch the video below to see how Dave saws his stickers out of a post oak.

 

Protecting Boards from Greying

If left in the direct sun, many types of wood will grey over time. If you’re not planning to use a finish on these boards, it is best to keep them out of direct sunlight. One Norwood Connect forum member suggests using a landscaping fabric to create a large, breathable sunshade.

Learn More About Air Drying Lumber

To find out what is working for seasoned sawyers, visit Norwood Connect. Here’s a thread with even more information on air drying lumber