Monday, June 8, 2015

Odds 'N Ends - Managing Salvaged Lumber (Cont'd)

This is the second of two posts on managing salvaged lumber.  The first post discusses de-nailing; this one is about preserving the lumber until ready for use.

Storing De-nailed Lumber
At first, I stored salvaged lumber stacked tightly together, like on the racks at home centers, and under a heavy-duty Craigslist freebie pool cover.  Moreover, the hard-won boards were stacked on top of salvaged 4 x 4s to keep them off of the ground. Needless to say, termites found this arrangement convenient.  By the time I discovered my stupidity, their munching was still confined to some of the shortest and most expendable 2 x 4s -- but they sure got my attention.  And let me add that my experience with protecting things for extended periods of time with anything resembling a "tarp"  or plastic sheeting has made me aware that ultraviolet radiation always wins and coverings leak.  When they do, mold can be a problem, both from the standpoint of deterioration of the lumber as well as health concerns.

After my experience with the pool cover,  I followed a different  protocol.  I covered the ground under a prospective stack with something to control weeds and grass -- old tarps, old carpet, old carpet pads or black ground cloth. (as can be seen in both photos).  I then arranged salvaged concrete blocks in grid fashion.  Supported by the blocks were 2 x 4s or 4 x 4s cross-ways of the stack that were shimmed with the help of a long straight edge as necessary to compensate for the unevenness of the ground to ensure that the boards would lie perfectly flat lengthwise.  I am hoping that the 8" tall blocks, will dissuade at least the lazy termites. 

When green sawmill lumber is stacked for air-drying, each layer is separated by narrow
Air-drying green lumber -- stickers between every layer
boards called "stickers" laid cross-ways.  It is important for drying green lumber to have all four sides exposed to air. However, for seasoned lumber, I reasoned that exposure to air on three sides should be enough to keep lumber that is stored outside dry, so I used stickers between every other layer for all the salvaged lumber.

At the time of this writing, one sizable stack of 2 x 4s and a stack of 1 x 8s have been dismantled for making wall trusses and concrete forms, respectively, and no deterioration is evident -- no termites, no rot, no mold, everything is cool except for lots of stink bugs (we are having a horrendous infestation stink bugs in the Midwest because there are few natural enemies to keep them in check (see food chain). As an example of stacking recycled lumber, the bottom photo shows 2 x 4s that were pre-cut for wall tursses then restacked with three sides of each board exposed to the air.

Using the pool cover is a bad idea because stacked lumber needs to breath.  I covered the new stacks with loose sheets of barn "tin" weighted down with heavy stones. And, since, our area is in the tornado alley of
Storing salvaged lumber -- stickers every other layer
the Midwest, I lashed each stack together by looping wire over the tin and under the stack then twisting it tight.  The loops are spaced about 5' apart along the length of the stack.  So far, we have had numerous tornado warnings and one close call but no direct hits to test the efficacy of the arrangement.

Of course, the tin does not fully cover the ends and sides of the piles but this is not important because the surfaces that are most prone to wetting are also the ones most exposed to air and sun.  The exposed areas turn gray but remain in good condition.

Spacing the Stacks
If I had it to do over again, I would have spaced the stacks so as to be able to mow completely around each stack with the riding mower.  As it it now, the mowing has to be augmented with a string trimmer, not one of my favorite things to do.