Building a stock of lumber is one of the joys of owning a workshop. Visiting the lumber store can be a frustrating experience with no guarantee you will come away with the right boards. Having a good selection to look through is a great advantage.

Storage, though, is a challenge. The conditions must be good so that the wood is prepared for use and does not deteriorate. Knowing what you have is important, especially because rough sawn boards are not easy to identify. Racking must be sure and stable, but easy to reach and simple to search. And then there are the offcuts, which most of us find impossible to discard in case we need exactly that species and size in the future.


Holding lumberyard invoices or receipts in a folder helps when it comes to remembering what is in storage. Not all boards are bought with a project in mind, and you can soon forget exactly what you have in stock. Check off boards that have been used, and make notes on their quality and potential for future use. It is also a good idea to record how much was needed for a project, as this gradually improves your ability to draw up accurate cutting lists and bills of materials.


Anyone who wants to build up a stock of lumber needs various storage solutions. Boards that are still being air-dried, in a stack with battens, should be stored outside. ideally well ventilated and protected from water and direct sunlight. The same is true of boards that have been seasoned that way and are not likely to be used for a while. A lean-to cover is perfect for this task. Use a moisture meter every six months or so to check the moisture content, and to ensure the wood is not damp.

Kiln-dried lumber will arrive at the workshop drier than air-dried boards, and it is a waste to leave it outside, as the moisture content is likely to rise. If you don’t have adequate space in the workshop, then a garage or shed is idead for storing such boards, making sure they are supported every 18 inches or so along their length to avoid the risk of bowing.

Storing Lumber: Tips on How to Do ItUsed with permission from The Real Wood Bible: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Choosing and Using 100 Decorative Woods by Nick Gibbs, Firefly Books, 2012, $19.95."

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