How Much Weight to Apply to Stickered Lumber?

I’m experimenting with cutting some lumber on a big band saw. The only thing I don’t want to learn by trial and error is how much weight do I need to put on the drying pile(s). Two of the logs are dry. They have laid in the dry for years. I just cut down a Bradford pear and learned that is really heavy wet wood. But I wanted to find out what the wood is like – and couldn’t see a clear trunk go to firewood. The ends are painted. The logs are only about three feet long, and I plan to cut 1-1/8 or 1/14 thick. Does the thickness affect the amount of weight needed? – Brooke Althouse

Tim Inman: The thickness of the boards is not so important relative to weight as it is to drying time. Most of my references recommend one year per one inch of wood thickness. In my experience, this is minimal. I usually weight my stickered lumber piles with a few concrete blocks laid on a plastic tarp cover. You do not want to allow the concrete (or whatever weight you use) to contact the wood, or it will stain the lumber.

I doubt the logs will be dry. Unless the bark has been removed, the logs will still be pretty wet. Bark is like Mother Nature’s plastic bag. It will not allow much moisture to leave the wood. When you cut the lumber, be sure to get it stacked and stickered immediately. We use 1 X 1 sticker wood, cut 4-feet long. Keep the stickers going straight up the stack, so all the weight is pressing directly down on them. You do not want the stickers randomly placed throughout the stack. This will cause the wood to set with curves and bends. Also, keep the outside of the stack even and neat. Don’t build a wood pyramid! If the wood goes up square and straight on the outside, like a big box, the weight is equalized over the whole stack. If you make a pyramid, then there is more weight in the middle than the edges.

Wood is commonly cut in “quarters” or quarter-inch increments. 4-quarter wood is one-inch thick at the sawmill; 5-quarter wood is one and one-quarter inches thick. I’d suggest staying with the standard cuts.  In today’s world, 4-quarter wood is pretty thick, and it will dry faster than 5-quarter. Whatever you do, saw those logs and save that wood! There is nothing more pleasurable for me than making something beautiful and useful from wood I have saved from the fire or the dump.

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