How to Dry Cedar for Lumber

All lumber cut on a sawmill, from trees or logs, is called green lumber. Green lumber signifies that the boards are not properly dried. There are two basic methods to drying green lumber, air drying and kiln drying. Kiln drying is very expensive and is generally performed by large lumber mills. Air drying can be executed by anyone who has some covered space in which the outdoor elements will not interfere with the air drying process. Most green cedar lumber will take approximately 6 months to 9 months to properly air dry depending on climate conditions.

Under a covered area set cement blocks in a square, one at each corner, that basically measures 6 feet by 6 feet.

Place one each of a 6-inch by 6-inch by 8-feet long post length ways on top of the cement blocks. You should have the two posts laying horizontally as parallel rails.

Begin the stack of boards at one end of the rails. Place the boards perpendicularly to the rails. Leave a 1-inch space between each board. Continue placing boards on the rails until you have one complete, single layer that is 8-feet wide.

Place the 1-inch by 1-inch by 8-feet wooden stickers perpendicularly to the first layer of boards. Space the stickers approximately one foot apart. You should be using 9 stickers for each layer of boards. Keep the two end stickers approximately 2-inches from each end of the boards.

Begin the next layer of boards by stacking them in the same fashion, but on top of the stickers. Leave a 1-inch space between the boards. Continue until all the lumber is stacked in this fashion with a layer of stickers between each layer of boards. The stickers provide air space between the boards for air drying.

Place a box fan to one end of the stacked lumber as an option to accelerate the drying process.

Things You Will Need

  • Covered area
  • 4 cement blocks
  • 2 6-inch by 6-inch by 8 feet long posts
  • 9 1-inch by 1-inch by 8 feet wooden stickers (per layer of boards)
  • Box fan (optional)


  • Any species of wood can be used for the stickers. Some wood may become stained on the surface by using different species of wood. .
  • Cedar lumber should never be exposed to direct sunlight while drying. The sunlight will fade or "bleach out" the deep red color of the cedar lumber.
  • "Planeing" faded or bleached out cedar boards will return the lumber to its natural deep red color.