This page is to let the customer know what will be needed, after the job is done, to dry the logs properly.
The quality of your lumber starts with how the logs are cut. If you don't have specific require-ments for your lumber I would suggest cutting your logs in increments of 2' (8, 10, or 12 feet long) with an extra 3 or 4" added for trimming the ends. If I need 8' lumber I try to cut my logs at 8'4". It is much more efficient for drying purposes if you keep you log lengths consistent. Random lengths can be difficult to stack properly.
Consider sealing the ends of your logs to prevent degrade and cracking as they dry. Wax-based products specifically made for that purpose are preferred but you can also use an exterior paint. Freshly cut ends will start drying almost immediately. You should also seal any stumps where large branches were removed. If you are going to seal the ends it should be done before the log is milled. Sealing the ends of individual boards can be very time consuming. If it will be a month or more before your logs will be milled, try to get them off the ground. You can use landscape timbers,railroa ties, pipe or blocks. Decay and insect activity can start quickly. I have sawn logs that yielded good lumber after they had been down for several years but the sooner they are sawn the better.
All of the lumber I have sawn for myself has been air dried and if I think it needs it I have a solar kiln I use to dry it alittle more. You should have your air drying area prepared before milling day. You will also need to obtain a sufficient quantity of stickers (spacers). Stickers may be made of dry solid wood, or composite materials. They should be at least as long as the width of your stack. Given a choice, it would be better to have a narrower/taller stack rather than a wider/shorter stack - the weight concentration helps keep the boards straight. Most stacks are 3' or 4' deep.
Stickers should be 1/2 to 1" thick and 1 to 1 1/2" wide. A stack of 500 board feet of 1" thick lumber when stacked 3 feet deep will require approximately 150 stickers. Allow a space 4' deep, 9' long and about 4' high to permit adequate air circulation around the stack. Avoid direct exposure to sun, rain or snow.
How many stickers do I need? That depends on the total board feet and the desired spacing. Stickers should be spaced between 12 and 24" apart and should support the ends of your boards. I usually sticker at 16" but you can space them as appropriate for the length of boards you have. 8' boards at 16" will require 7 stickers per layer, at 24" it would require 5 stickers. I allow 1 board foot for spacing in each layer of 1" thick boards, so a 3' deep stack of 8' boards would contain about 23 board feet per layer. If I have 500 board feet to stack it will take about 22 layers (always round up). 7 stickers per layer means I need to have at least 154 stickers for that stack. If I have layers of thicker boards there will be fewer layers required.
For the base of the stack I use pressure treated 4x4s on a level, dry surface. I use 7 three foot long pieces spaced 16" apart. Place a layer of fresh sawn boards across the 4x4s making sure that the ends of the boards are supported. Use the full 3' width, you may leave space between each board to use the full width. Stagger the spaces on additional layers. On top of the boards place one sticker over each 4x4. Another layer of boards - all the same thickness, and another set of stickers. As you stack make sure that the ends of the stickers are in a vertical line when viewed from the side of the stack. I reserve the lower quality boards for the upper layers of the stack. When you reach the final layer, add stickers again and top off the stack with a layer of dried boards, plywood or, if you are stacking outside, a piece of corrugated metal. Then add weight to the top of the stack (blocks, bricks, etc.). Do not cover the stack with a tarp. If you block the air flow mold may develop in the stack.
I normally stack fresh cut lumber in an unheated area, the garage or barn, until the moisture content reaches 15-20%. I may then move the lumber to my shop where it is restacked with stickers for final drying in a heated, air conditioned area. You can leave it outside but it should still be stored in the shop for a couple of weeks before using it for indoor projects.
Note: Don't let a lack of stickers delay your milling project. I can supply stickers in 1'-3' if needed.