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Thread: Storing Wood Outdoors

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Saluda, NC
    Posts
    29

    Storing Wood Outdoors

    I have a garage shop with about 430 sq ft and I'm running out of room. I'm considering moving most of my wood outside to a covered area where it would be protected from the rain and snow but not from humidity and temperature fluctuations.

    I would like to store plywood panels (but not MDF or similar), lumber (mostly hardwood) and cut-offs in this area.

    Does anyone in this forum do this? Is this a terrible idea? Assuming I can protect from the rain, will it ruin the wood? When I want to use the wood, will I have to let it acclimate indoors before using it and if so, for how long?

    Thank you in advance for any insights about this.

    SCC
    Saluda, NC

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    5,709
    People have stored wood outdoors in open sheds for centuries and continue to do so, my local lumber yard being a prime example. It's not ideal, but as long as you keep the rain off it and wait for it to reacclimate to your shop when you bring it back in before using it it should be fine. However, you do run the risk of insect damage. I get some, occasionally, with the AD wood I store under cover outdoors.

    Personally, I wouldn't store plywood outdoors. The quality these days is poor already. Having it suck up a lot of moisture and then having to let it reacclimate to your shop again just increases the risk of warpage and delamination.

    The only way around both issues discussed above is to wrap the wood completely in plastic and seal it. Some lumber is shipped this way and will arrive at the same MC it left the drying kiln. This may or may not be a practical option for you, however.

    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Shenandoah Valley in Virginia
    Posts
    385
    Any lumber stored in that manner will adjust its moisture content. The longer it is outside the closer it will come to the EMC of your area.. In most of the US this is about 12%.. Depending on what you make out of it will determine if that is too high of a MC... It will take a good while to get it down to 8% in your shop, provided it is heated.
    I often use wood with a 10-12% MC but I allow for shrinkage if the project will be used indoors, or allow for expansion if it will be used outdoors..
    Recommend you study wood movement with MC changes to get a good idea of how it will effect you and your projects.
    There are calculators available online to help you determine how much various species will change with different MC's

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Saluda, NC
    Posts
    29
    Thanks for the replies. Like many woodworkers, I have a tendency to accumulate "just in case" offcuts that I might need sometime in the future. While my shop space is relatively small, I think the REAL culprit is my inability to throw away my offcuts.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    5,709
    That's an all too common problem, one that effects most all of us. I had so much wood in my shop that I no longer had enough space to assemble a large project. Something had to give. After considering every alternative I finally built a storage shed this Summer and now keep the bulk of my wood in it. As I moved the longer lumber out there I culled through all the shorts and plywood offcuts I had been storing because of course I would find a use for them someday. Pieces of molding, too. Some were 20 years old! I cut them up, put them in 5 gal pails, and saved them for the woodstove this Fall. About 30 pails. A few really nice pieces I saved and gave to a friend.

    When in doubt throw it out! Clean up. Reorganize. You'll love the newfound space.

    John

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    1,485
    I recently sorted and 'let go' of a bunch of smaller pieces. Honestly, I dont know why I kept some of them (ya... maybe I happen to 'need' a small hand size piece of hard maple on a project... but it is unlikely I need 20 difft sizes/species - and some of them years old).

    Then a week later I sorted again, and shook my head some more at some of what I saved the week before. And I have MORE than enough lumber to keep me busy with projects for a few years. Plus, just added a few more 'nice' boards a month ago.

    PLBCAK

    (Problem Lies Between Chair And Keyboard....)

  7. #7
    I save little pieces for my wood stove...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    7,539
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Beitz View Post
    I save little pieces for my wood stove...
    Wood turners love pieces too small for many woodworkers.

  9. #9
    Found a use for small pieces when my grandsons were visiting. I glued up strips about 2 1/2" wide by at least 2 1/4 thick, and cut a couple hundred 2 1/4" blocks. Used the Hammer slider, set the fence and pulled it back to clear the blocks as they came off the piece, and the blocks are as precision cut as possible, you can stack them high without being any difference from one stack to another.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Shenandoah Valley in Virginia
    Posts
    385
    For years when my grandsons were young.... cut pieces into 3/4 x 3/4 x various lengths and made square lincoln logs for them...they always wanted more...some of the kids can build a dozen buildings and still have pieces left over...
    Now that the grandsons are older..... cut the small stuff into pen blanks for them... one grandson made over 500 pens while in high school and is still making them while in college...

    If nothing else, cut them into pen and turning blanks and give them to your local lathe club... they always appreciate wood to turn...
    Last edited by Ed Aumiller; 01-20-2019 at 7:52 PM. Reason: Spelling

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