How to Cure Wood

Most wood must be cured or dried before using the lumber to build with.

There are two ways of drying or curing wood; air dried or kiln dried. Air drying is the cheapest method but is also the slowest, sometimes taking up to a year or more before the moisture content of the wood is acceptable for use. Lumber purchased at a lumberyard has already been dried and needs no further curing.

Have stickers cut at the sawmill when you have your lumber cut. Stickers are 1-by-1 inch pieces of wood that are laid between each layer of lumber for the air to flow. Stickers should always be the same species of wood as the lumber.

Ask the sawmill owners if they have a kiln available for drying your lumber. This is often the easiest way to go, although it may cost you an extra 40 to 60 cents per board foot to have the wood dried.

Lay out 8-foot-long, small-diameter logs the same species as your lumber. Space these approximately 3 to 4 feet apart. Begin laying the freshly cut lumber across the logs, allowing an inch or two of space between each board. When the layer is complete, lay stickers every 2 feet on the boards and stack another layer. Continue until all lumber is stacked.

Allow the lumber to remain untouched for several months. Use a moisture meter to determine the moisture content of the boards. Every species of wood has a different desirable moisture content for building with, so know in advance what the proper dried wood moisture should be.

Store dried or cured wood in a dry, well-ventilated area of a barn, shed or garage until use. This will keep the wood from reabsorbing moisture and possibly molding or warping.

Things You Will Need

  • Stickers
  • Moisture meter
  • Kiln (optional)


  • Even if the sawmill does not offer kiln drying, they may know of a local kiln. Ask the owner of the mill for this information.
  • Some woods, such as black walnut, need to air dry in log form before being cut into lumber.
  • You can find the proper moisture content of different species of wood, as well as plans for building your own kiln or purchasing a small kiln if you have a quantity of wood to dry, online.