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    Thomas Bittner

    I have a question about wood storage.
    I frequently start a project cutting and surfacing my parts to finished dimensions. Typically this is red oak. I then will stack my project in a neat stack, bigger pieces on the bottom. Often when I come back to work on the project sometimes a couple months later I will find the wood has checked and split terribly, enough so I have to scrap that particular board.
    My shop is heated and in the basement. Yes there is humidity changes but no more that the rest of my house. My wood is kiln dried and is usually around 7% moisture content give or take a point.
    The fractures are usually in the same board and seem to originate from the end of the board. They seem to follow the grain in this case its rift sawn. When I prepared these boards there were no obvious defects otherwise I wouldn’t have used them. I notice that lumber yards around here ( Connecticut USA) just stack the lumber in flat stacks, sometimes in unheated sheds. They often surface the faces and sides and these sit around for awhile without apparent damage.

    I think maybe it might be built up stress in the wood. When I remove stock from a rough sawn board they might be stress relieved and then because there is less material the wood splits. It could also be a wood quality issue where I have reactive wood.
    Anybody have any insights? Is there a way to read a board?

    David Perrott

    Since boards dry from the end don’t cut it to size. If you have to cut it for space, leave them oversized. Other than that, I think that is just the nature of wood.


    Some dealers will cote the ends of their boards with wax or some other form of sealant to prevent them from drying and cracking on the ends. You may also want to check the moisture content of your board and make sure they are cured before cutting them to length.

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Albert Einstein

    Thomas Bittner

    I have coated the ends of boards with wax and another time with a mixture of white glue and water. I bought a moisture meter to check my wood and so I know it’s from 6-7% MC.
    It seems to be just red oak that gives me this problem.
    I have seen other people stack wood vertically, I was wondering if there was a correct way to store wood. Mine is usually stacked horizontal in piles.
    What really bothers me is when I start a project and it randomly comes apart before I assemble it.

    Thomas Bittner

    I understand that dealers coat the ends of the boards and why.
    It seems to me that at some point wood should be stable.
    The splits are about 8″ long from the ends does that mean I should leave my boards 12″ longer for splitting, from each end?
    These are 10″ wide boards, very expensive so that’s a lot of waste.
    I’ll see if I can figure out how to post a picture.
    I do appreciate the feedback.
    I wonder if I have wood that is inferior somehow.


    Something like this happened to me, but with white oak. I am convinced, from speaking with others, that the wood was not dried properly. Also, white oak is known for having problems with internal checking and is easy to ruin in the drying process.

    I was taught to cut an inch of the end of a piece of lumber, then rap or flex the cutoff to see if it breaks in a way that indicates a weakness (check) in the cutoff. You keep taking off one inch or so cuts until you get a cutoff that is sound. This way, you don’t have a hidden check at the end of your workpiece. This process does not replace leaving your rough work long. This is just getting rid of “junk” at the end and you still stay long after getting rid of the “junk.” Was anyone else taught to do this?

    Thomas Bittner

    I think you have nailed it with this concept, and no i never was taught to do this.
    I have done this when I’ve seen obvious defects in a board but i suspect I didn’t go far enough. There are still fractures you can’t see running up aboard following the grain.
    Perhaps the thing to do when you find this condition continuing to happen on a board is to set it aside or rip it to widths following the fractures.
    So perhaps this is more about wood quality and defects you may find in a board. I’m know each species has its quirks i will have to pay closer attention and look at rough boards more closely.


    I tend to think it is more your project building process that you should rethink. Here is what I do.

    1) Any new wood brought into my basement needs to acclimate for a couple weeks. Stand it up or if you stack it, use stickers so air can circulate.
    2) I buy rough boards and use a surface planer to get to approximate dimensions. Since the planer creates a couple inches of snipe, I just cut it off which removes any of that pre-existing “checking”
    3) Cut and resize project pieces but leave over size by about an 1/8th”
    4) These oversize boards need to re-acclimate for a couple days so any internal stresses can be relieved. Any twisting or curling will then be removed during final dimensioning.
    5) Size to final dimensions and build the project.

    I try not to have the pile of wood (project pieces) sit for a couple months. Cut it, build it and get your finish on it. Your project can then take seasonal changes more control-ably.

    Located in Honeoye Falls NY USA. The Finger Lakes region of Western NY.

    "If you give me 6 hours to fell a tree, I will take the first 4 to sharpen my axe" Abe Lincoln

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