Advice needed for properly air drying lots of thick ash boards

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Forum topic by Vance posted 10-29-2015 06:39 PM 526 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Vance's profile


37 posts in 1389 days

10-29-2015 06:39 PM

I’m storing, to dry out to use about 20 boards of ash, measuring approximately 9’ long, 15-18” wide, 2” thick boards, in my garage. The wood was a victim of the Emerald Ash Borer and had been dead for several years prior to being brought down in September. The garage is insulated and pretty well sealed, but still a big open room that I keep my daily driver in along with my guitar shop in one of the two back rooms. David, AKA dbray45, suggested that I place a dehumidifier in the space where the wood is. If I were try to dehumidify, I’d run into some serious issues with the car and the guitars. Really, I think the only thing I can do is to circulate the air that’s already there. I can put fans on the stack to help move the air more, but what else can I do to help the process along? I really don’t have the room to stack and re-stack, much less the muscle to do that as each board weighs probably well over 50 pounds. Moving half of them one day last weekend by myself nearly killed me. The stack is stickered now with 1”x1” pine, five stickers over the course of the 9 feet. The entire stack is on 8” concrete blocks with 2×4s on them to isolate the ash from the concrete.

The ends of the boards have been sealed and the second log that came home sliced up already had some serious checks that I’ve since cut off and re-sealed at the suggestion of others on this forum. So far, those boards haven’t started to check again, yet…

Any advice to speed things along? Don W posted some info for me on the Work Bench Smack Down thread, but I’d love to hear more.


10 replies so far

View AZWoody's profile


678 posts in 640 days

#1 posted 10-29-2015 06:47 PM

Dehumidifiers are good, but if the wood is in a large open room that’s going to be used for other things, I don’t think you’ll get a good bang for your buck. If you can somehow seal off the area with plastic curtains or something to make the room smaller for a dehumidifier to be more efficient, then it makes sense.

Other than that, air circulation, via a fan is most important. Don’t forget to put extra weight on top of the stack to keep warping to a minimum.

View pintodeluxe's profile


4823 posts in 2229 days

#2 posted 10-29-2015 06:57 PM

Ideally you would stack and sticker the lumber outside for several seasons. Place them in an area protected from rain, but open to the wind. I use a 3-sided shed for this purpose.

Then bring the lumber inside to dry. You need 1. air circulation, 2. controlled humidity , and 3. a heat source. You can build a temporary kiln pretty easily using a household dehumidifier, space heater and fans.

The problems with bringing green lumber inside include rust on cast iron tools, and poor drying which can lead to mold. Get a moisture meter to see where you stand. I bring lumber inside once it measures 15% m.c.
Even though the tree came down several years ago, if it was milled recently… the boards could still have a high moisture content.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Vance's profile


37 posts in 1389 days

#3 posted 10-29-2015 07:06 PM

I recently picked up moisture meter and currently the boards are floating around 18-20%.

View Yonak's profile


979 posts in 937 days

#4 posted 10-29-2015 07:18 PM

At 18%~20% the ash is well on its way. I’d just leave it where it is and put a couple of fans on timers to circulate the air between the boards. If there’s a pretty good space between the ash and the wall, all the better. You can gradually reduce the times the fans are on and, in a month or two, unless the humidity is quite high in your garage, shut off the fans altogether. In, probably, a year the lumber will be ready to use. If you want it sooner, keep the fans going.

I just got about 1850 bf of 8/4 ash myself and am doing, pretty much, the same thing with it. This scheme has worked well for me in the past.

View Vance's profile


37 posts in 1389 days

#5 posted 10-29-2015 08:21 PM

Thanks Yonak. Currently there is about a foot or so between the stack and the wall. I was thinking when my son and I restacked the wood here! There was an article I read published by the US Forestry Department that suggested that fast moving air would be better – I do have a couple old furnace fans that move a TON of air. I could put those to use.

I’ll keep everyone posted as the days and weeks go by.

View nkawtg's profile


202 posts in 667 days

#6 posted 10-29-2015 08:55 PM

I would be concerned about surviving beetle larvae ruining your fine wood.
Otherwise garage drying is fine.

View Yonak's profile


979 posts in 937 days

#7 posted 10-29-2015 11:21 PM

I would be concerned about surviving beetle larvae ruining your fine wood.

- nkawtg

I’m not an expert on critters and maybe a more knowledgeable poster could chime in but, if the wood was not laying on the ground for awhile, I wouldn’t be too concerned about beetles. Watch out for the tell-tale sawdust piles when you unstack it.

View rwe2156's profile


2109 posts in 897 days

#8 posted 10-29-2015 11:27 PM

Patience, grasshopper…....

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View gfadvm's profile


14924 posts in 2106 days

#9 posted 10-30-2015 12:42 AM

I would add to the above: stickers should be placed 16-18” apart with stickers near the ends, add a row of concrete blocks to the top of the stack for weight, and be aware that powder post beetles like ash!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Vance's profile


37 posts in 1389 days

#10 posted 02-06-2016 09:58 PM

I’m happy to report that a mere four months later, the ash boards moisture content had dropped to single digits and is now in the process of being cut down into usable lengths and prayed with. I’d been hearing that it would take two years or so to get to this point. I’m pretty sure that with the trees being dead yet still standing for as long as they were, most if not all of the free water had evacuated the tree so I was dealing with mostly the bound water.

Another thing I think that contributed to the speedy drying time is that I followed a suggestion I read in a US Forestry paper – I used a fan but ran it in shifts rather than around the clock.

So I’ve managed to get a LOT of wood ready for use much quicker that I had hoped. And all of the wood dried straight and without any cupping or twisting. Nice to see I manage to get something right for a change!!

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