There are so many reasons that storing wood is a smart idea, but do you know how to store it correctly? Whether it’s because you’re an avid woodworker or because you’re stashing away antique wood furniture that you want to refurbish eventually, knowing how to store wood of all types is essential.
You want to be careful where and how you approach lumber storage, so you don’t end up with a bunch of unusable wood. Stacking lumber the right way and keeping wood furniture elevated are a couple of ways to increase the life of your wood. What else can be done to prevent warping and other damage? We put together a straightforward how-to guide that will teach you the best way to store wood no matter the circumstances.
Storing Lumber for Woodworking
If you’re new to woodworking and just starting a lumber collection, you might not realize that incorrectly storing lumber can cause the boards to warp and bow. Sometimes this wood can be salvaged by squaring it off, but this takes much more time and effort. In the worst case, this wood can be misshapen beyond repair.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind when storing scrap wood in your basement, garage or storage unit.
1. Store Unseasoned Wood Outdoors
If you’re air-drying lumber on your own, make sure it’s kept away from other dried and seasoned wood. Moisture from drying lumber will get into the air and can negatively impact the humidity in your basement or garage. Keeping this wood indoors can also extend drying time. Ideally, stack this wood off the ground, away from rain and out of direct sunlight.
2. Keep Kiln-Dried Lumber Indoors
Any kiln-dried lumber or wood that is at the desired moisture content should be kept indoors whenever possible. Ideally, keep this type of wood in your workshop. If not, a garage, shed or storage unit will work. Do your best to keep moisture out of these areas, so the moisture content of the wood does not rise.
3. Support Boards Every 16 to 18 Inches
When stacking lumber horizontally, make sure that the wood is supported by brackets every 16 to 18 inches at the very least. Supporting the wood at this interval will prevent the boards from bowing.
4. Don’t Stack Too Much Lumber on One Shelf
Make sure that the lumber you’re storing has room to breathe. Stacking too much wood on top of each other can make the wood on the bottom suffocate and become compromised. Also, the excess weight can cause the wood to bend in undesirable ways.
5. If Storing Lumber Vertically, Make Sure It’s Supported and Elevated
Storing wood vertically is space-saving, but it’s only recommended if the wood is completely dry. Otherwise, keep it horizontal until the moisture content of the wood is to its ideal percentage. For dried wood, storing vertically is recommended if you’re able to support the wood at both the top and bottom to prevent bowing. Also, do your best to keep this wood off the ground to lessen the risk of water damage.
Do You Need Climate Controlled Storage? Find Out Here.
How to Store Wood Furniture in Steps
Wood furniture requires similar conditions to lumber, but storage can be challenging in different ways. For example, consider how you would position larger finished pieces like bookshelves and china cabinets off the ground. Also, since the furniture is finished, damage like warping is much more difficult to remedy than with lumber.
For the best way to store wood furniture, follow these simple tips.
1. Prevent Wood Furniture from Cracking & Splitting
Environmental changes make wood furniture more likely to crack and split, which can be difficult (or maybe even impossible) to repair. Prevent this by applying a coat of wax or furniture polish on all of the wooden surfaces a couple of weeks before you put your wood furniture into storage.
2. Empty Out the Furniture Entirely
Make sure you don’t keep anything inside drawers or cabinets when storing wood furniture. Not only are you likely to forget about the furniture’s contents, but some items can also cause harm if not removed. For instance, a forgotten pen could end up leaking in the heat and cause irreversible damage.
3. Avoid Suffocating the Wood
When you’re dealing with wooden furniture, you don’t want to use bubble wrap or plastic stretch film to protect the exterior of the item. Wood needs to breathe, so use breathable fabrics like white cotton sheets, which prevents dust and debris from getting into existing crevices.
4. Choose Climate Controlled Storage If Possible
When it’s time to store your wooden furniture, try to choose a space with a controlled climate. Not enough humidity can cause wood to crack. Too much humidity can cause wood components to warp and change shape.
5. Keep Wood Furniture Elevated
Accidents can happen, but your wooden antique desk or table might not be replaceable. To keep your wooden furniture protected, raise it up off the ground. Set your furniture on top of wooden pallets or cinder blocks. That way it is out of the way if water ever seeps into your storage unit.
Related: Antique Furniture Values: How to Find Out What’s It Worth
When it comes to protecting lumber, pay extra attention to how the pieces are placed in storage. Remember, wood should always be kept in a cool, dry location. Following these tips will help ensure that your wooden items stay functional and aesthetically sound for a long time.
This post, originally published on 6/8/18, was updated 5/8/18.