As many of you know, we have been building our home overlooking the vineyard out of ICF (insulated concrete forms) and you can follow the chronological progress in the ICF Building Index. We have recently back filled the ICF basement walls and are winterizing the vineyard before finishing the new expansion.
In the meantime, we have been planning the building materials necessary for the upstairs which will be the main living area. We are planning a post and beam construction – but the exposed beams not bearing all the weight. Thanks to John’s brother, Joe, we were able to buy 22 tons of beautiful Oakridge, Tennessee white oak at a fraction of the local west Texas price!
The 22 tons of wood had to be unloaded from the 18 wheeler and then re-stacked to dry properly – that meant moving 44 tons of wood around here – whew, I’m tired just thinking about it!
Unloading the Hardwood
The trucker delivered the wood last week and guess who got to unload it? Yep – John and the boys! They are working on those muscles!
Do you know the saying, “necessity is the mother of invention”?
Out of necessity – tiredness and sore backs – the light bulb went off – they got the idea to use a couple of the larger beams as slides.
A beam from the truck was positioned on the ramps and slid down – with some guidance. Once down the ramp, the beam was stacked onto the pile.
Even though they were ready to help, the younger ones of the family had to sit out while the big beams were being moved.
You would think that that would be it – we would wait until ready to build, and get at it. But, this is fresh lumber that needs to be dried properly so it doesn’t check, split, cup or twist.
Drying Hardwood Lumber
Lumber is dried for 4 reasons:
- to increase dimensional stability of the wood
- to reduce or eliminate decay or staining of the wood
- to reduce weight – the weight is reduced by 35% or more which means our 22 tons may end up being a bit over 5 tons!
- to increase stiffness, strength and hardness of the wood
The most economical ways to dry wood are air-drying and solar kiln drying. We are air drying our lumber.
To air dry the lumber properly, it had to be re-stacked with spacers between the layers on a strong foundation – our wood is on the concrete pad in the overhang of the barn. The spacers are called stickers, probably because they are just sticks of wood. 😉
In the photo below you can see the spacers that separate the layers of wood. You want to maximize the surface area of each piece of wood exposed to air and support them so they will dry straight and not warp.
Now we are done – or, are we?
After stacking the wood, the ends of each board is painted to seal it because the ends dry out faster.
If the ends dry out quicker than the rest of the board, it will crack and split – this is called checking. This was a great use of all the left over paint – white, brown, burgundy … that I didn’t want to throw away because “we might need it”!
Ideally, we should have put the big 8×8’s on the bottom. John initially envisioned two stacks with the 8×8’s on the bottom of the second stack. But as the first stack went up, is was so stable, that we decided to do it all together. We have some extra weights that we place on the very top to further compress and hold the lumber straight.
Not only does the drying wood smell good but it is exciting to realize that we are making progress with our plans!
We will cover the stack of wood with plastic when it rains so there will not be any staining. Other than covering it, there is really nothing left to do but let them sit and dry for the next year … and dream of the finished house!