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Oak Drying Experiment to cover or not- Update

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Buckeye 2012, Sep 15, 2013.

  1. Buckeye 2012

    Buckeye 2012 New Member

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    I split and stacked 10 cord of red oak this spring. Top covered half. The other half did not cover at all wide open to the elements. The top covered half is around 39% consistently testing fresh splits with a moisture meter. The uncovered cords (just rained for several hours couple days ago) was around 29%. Both sit beside each other and are subject to the same wind and sun. I tested several pieces in each stack and it was very consistent. I also have some pin oak covered in the same area that is two years old and it is 35%.

    Seems pretty clear to me that uncovering is the way to go at least where I am. Thank god for some ash and cherry I have from two years ago this oak will not be ready for at least two more seasons.

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  2. paul bunion

    paul bunion Minister of Fire

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    Did that include pulling out pieces from the middle and bottom? (So position in the stack doesn't matter either?)
  3. Buckeye 2012

    Buckeye 2012 New Member

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    I did pull from the bottom and middle. A point or two high the farther down you went in both stacks. Wood from each stack was about 10 points different in similar locations. My guess it is has something to the water vapor being able to radiate out of the stacks from the top.
    Gark likes this.
  4. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    I'm sure there are some on both sides of the debate that will never change their minds. I have some stacked both ways and I guess I'll have to form an opinion in the next year or two, so I do appreciate you're taking the time to gather some objective data even if it is an experiment of 1. More fodder for the debate !!
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Nice experiment Buckeye. Results do not surprise me at all. Results also will vary depending upon location. Some of those folks out east really get lots of rain and they do need to top cover. Here, we wait until after the first summer and fall before top covering.
    Ash_403, NortheastAl and JOHN BOY like this.
  6. JOHN BOY

    JOHN BOY Minister of Fire

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    I totally agree with Backwoods on this . I dont top cover till right around september and then it stays covered for the winter . I split most of my wood in the fall and winter and let it sit out in the open elements for most of the spring and summer.
  7. Gark

    Gark Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the info, Buckeye. They're not the results I would have expected, but a good thing to know. Perhaps the top cover also shields the day's hottest sun ( noon to 2: PM) from warming the stack more.
  8. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

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    Hope you keep the test going for 2 to 4 years. My oak won't be used for four years. I cover soon after stacking and it is bone dry when I use it.
    ScotO likes this.
  9. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Good info, Buckeye, thanks! :)
    It's possible that the hot air rising from the top pulls more air into the stack. But if it's not a calm wind, I'd think that effect would be minimized. As far as rain, I don't think it gets much of the stack wet; The splits are tilted on way or the other, and most of the water will exit the stack by the time it gets down very far.
  10. Coog

    Coog Member

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    I am not surprised either. Out where I live, it just rained today for the first time in 2 months. We have been getting above 90 degrees for many weeks. Hottest September on record. Any stack with the sunning beating down in these conditions would accelerate the drying process.

    Excessive rain would be just the opposite. You would want to cover in wet climates.
  11. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    The northeast has had one of the wettest summers in recent history. I just covered some stacks last week because I got some really inexpensive tarps. I left everything uncovered until last week.

    Something that I always think about is that wood dries to a point that it becomes waterproof. Shingles are a perfect example. They get rained on either as a roof or siding, and the structure remains protected. Shouldn't splits dry to a point where a wetting after they season does not affect internal moisture? Wooden boats too would sink if they absorbed too much water.
  12. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    I think that study is about as scientific as any I have seen here. Good Work.
    NortheastAl likes this.
  13. MrWhoopee

    MrWhoopee Minister of Fire

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    Nice piece of research. Is it strictly a top cover or does it extend down the sides of the stack a little? I suspect that the top cover severely reduces the upward flow of warm air through the stack. The heating of direct sun probably doesn't have as much effect as air circulation, since the heat will not penetrate into the stack. I wouldn't be surprised if you find mold growing high up inside the stack that is covered, particularly if the cover extends down the sides.

    Actually, the shingles just protect the tar paper/ roofing felt. It's the roofing felt that is waterproof. The wood will always absorb water. Wooden boats must be painted or otherwise sealed regularly to prevent rot. That's why fiberglass boats have become so popular.
  14. wesessiah

    wesessiah Member

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    i was always raised to not cover wood while it's seasoning, with people telling me it would trap moisture. so i never cover, or move my wood that's ready to use to the garage until i'm ready to burn it. i cover with a tarp if i know it's supposed to rain for a couple days or more though. i always stack loosely, and leave my stacks out in the sun, and just keep a couple of tarps to cover my current years wood when it's going to rain a lot.
  15. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    I left my wood uncovered here last summer and early fall, but it stayed too wet. This year I covered just the top with a tarp to keep the rain off and it is a lot drier. The tarped wood has similar moisture to wood I have stacked by the house with a slanted roof and shingles on it, about a foot above the wood. Soon I will be pulling the tarps down to cover the sides as well. Only way to keep it dry. I get 8 feet of rain/snow melt here a year on average. Next summer I will likely build covered wood structures of some type with a fixed sloped roof so that the wood can stay exposed to the air and not get wet.
    Redlegs likes this.
  16. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    How was it stacked and covered? Are these single rows with narrow strips of covers just on the top? Multiple rows close together with one wide cover?
  17. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    Same here, I just moved a cord or so onto my back porch, it's been sitting for 4 years, top covered when split. The stuff is sweet, bone dry, no rot whatsoever, and no bugs.....no nothin, just solid oak.

    Hey this is a great experiment, appears to be quicker to dry without top cover, wonder if it would be sooner to rot over time?
  18. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Did you do the moisture meter test on a fresh re-split of the wood, or did you just pull the wood out of the stacks and test it? Just curious..

    I usually don't top cover my stacks til late summer/early fall, this year I have did it in early August as we were getting monsoon after monsoon here.....

    Was the wood you tested stacked in cubes, rows or just in a large pile?

    My top cover is black rubber roofing, which I have found actually heats the stack up some, as it absorbs the sunlight all day long. Maybe it has something to do with what kind of covering you are using too.

    Either way, thanks for posting your results! The age-old argument lives on!;)
    Backwoods Savage and NortheastAl like this.
  19. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    See, I learn something new every day, here
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  20. CMAG

    CMAG Member

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    Thanks for sharing. will have to get me some of those new vented tarps;lol
  21. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I have some 4 or 5 year old Oak but I am pretty sure its not any dryer then my 2 year old Oak.
  22. MarkinNC

    MarkinNC Minister of Fire

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    That is my position too. It achieves an equilibrium with the environment.

    To the OP thanks for posting! Now if you could get a wood shed and conduct the same experiement:)
  23. captjack

    captjack Member

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    I will try and do the wood shed experiment this year. I have 20+ cords in lean-to style sheds with pallets used as walls and floors. I am soon to be out of room and will have to stack some in the open. I like the shed regardless because every winter prior to this year it seemed to rain the day before I needed to restock the bins in the garage. I am so done with that nonsense.
  24. 1750

    1750 Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for posting this. It's really interesting.

    Does your covering extend down the sides much?

    Are you re-splitting and checking the interior moisture, or is this just the moisture content of the existing splits?

    Thanks again!
  25. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I think it depends on how you top cover and what you use. If you just lay something directly on top it may reduce air circulation. If you leave a little air space between the top of your stack and your cover it should circulate the air better.

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