Storing boards properly is important to keep your materials in tip-top condition. It is as important to your finished product as using sharp blades or setting up your saw correctly.
Correct storage can prevent boards from warping or bowing. A board deformed by poor storage may not return to its original shape and it will also not perform as well as it could when cut and edged. Correct board storage is easy to get right and it will help minimise waste and protect your investment in quality materials.
Here are some tips to help you store boards properly:
1. Be careful with edges and surfaces
Handle boards with care to avoid damaging the edges and surfaces. Don’t slide boards over each other, as dust trapped between the boards may cause scratches. Instead, pick them up one by one. Don’t walk across the boards, but rather walk around them.
2. Allow new stock to acclimatise to local conditions
Boards behave differently depending on the local conditions under which they are stored and used. How dry or humid the air is will make a big difference, so being located near the coast or being more inland, as well as being at a high or low altitude, all has an effect. Allow boards to “settle” for two to three days before using them, in the same climatic conditions where they will be processed and installed. This will help avoid bowing or warping. Make sure stored boards are easy to access so you are able to always rotate your stock. Using the oldest stock first known as “first in, first out” (FIFO). This helps prevent stock ageing.
3. Store boards sensibly
Always store your boards indoors, away from direct sunlight and in clean, well-ventilated conditions. Keep the storage area dry and try to avoid extreme swings in temperature and humidity. Where possible, always keep the top board covered with a cover board to protect its surface. Store boards horizontally at least 50mm above the ground on a firm, level, load-bearing base (horizontal storage is the preferred method for stacking large volumes of board). Keep stacks neatly aligned and avoid protruding boards, as these can lead to injuries and damage.
4. Dunnage do’s and don’ts
- Use dunnage to keep boards off the floor.
- Make sure your dunnage is uniform in size and thickness, as well as clean and dry.
- Your dunnage must also support the entire width of the stack, by either being the corresponding length or by using multiple dunnage.
- Use enough dunnage spaced evenly to prevent sagging (at least 4 dunnages for a 9’x6’ board. The space between dunnage must not exceed 900mm).
- When stacking multiple stacks on top of each other, make sure to vertically align the dunnage to prevent uneven stress and strain on the boards in the stacks, as this will cause the boards to permanently deform or bow.
5. Stack smartly
- Do not exceed maximum stacking height.
- For vertical storage, the boards must be supported with a backrest structure that supports the entire surface of the back board and the full weight of the boards stacked vertically to prevent sagging.
- If boards are to be stored vertically, only stack in small quantities, not exceeding a base width of 500mm. Stacking too many boards vertically also means you won’t be able to rotate stock to use the oldest stock first.
- Vertically stored boards have the greatest risk of slipping and causing injury, so ensure they are stored on a non-slip surface, preferably with an angled base, or provide some cross-brace to keep them in place.