Drying Lumber- How Long Does it Take? #sawmill #discoverthewoodland

At our sawmill, we often get asked the question – how long does it take to dry lumber? The answer isn’t as simple as stating a specific timeframe. It’s a process that involves a fair amount of time and patience, and can depend on several factors. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the details of the lumber drying process and provide you with insights on how long it typically takes. So, if you’re curious about the drying time of lumber, stick with us as we take you on a journey to discover the woodland.


If you are planning to craft something out of freshly cut wood, you will need to dry it properly to prevent warping, cracking, and splitting. But the question is, how long does it take to dry green lumber?

At Rock Hill Farms, we have been operating our sawmill for years and have learned useful tips on drying lumber. In this article, we will share with you everything you need to know about drying lumber, including the factors that affect drying time.

Factors That Affect Drying Time

  • The type of wood: Different types of wood dry at varying rates, and hardwood takes longer to dry compared to softwood due to its density. On average, hardwood takes about an inch per year, while softwood takes six months to a year.
  • The thickness of the wood: The thicker the wood, the longer it takes to dry because it retains more moisture.
  • The moisture content: The higher the moisture content, the longer it takes to dry. Generally, green lumber is between 60-80% moisture content.
  • The drying method: Different drying methods have varying drying times. Air-drying is slower, while kiln-drying is faster.

Methods of Drying Lumber

  1. Air Drying

The air-drying process involves stacking newly cut lumber outside and exposing it to the elements, allowing the natural air flow to dry it. Generally, air drying takes between six months to two years, depending on the thickness of the wood, the type of wood, and the local climate. Air-drying is suitable for low-value woods or ones that are not prone to warping.

  1. Kiln Drying

Kiln drying is a faster method of drying lumber. It involves placing the wood into a kiln, a heated chamber, which dries the lumber using controlled heat and circulation of air. Kiln-dried lumber is more expensive and takes between one to two weeks. It is suitable for high-value woods and those that are prone to warping, ensuring uniform moisture content and preventing defects such as checking and splitting.


  1. How Can I Tell if My Lumber is Dry?

You can tell if your lumber is dry by checking its moisture content, using a moisture meter. The moisture content should be between 6-8% for indoor furniture and 12-15% for outdoor furniture.

  1. Can I Air Dry Lumber in Winter?

Yes, you can. However, the drying process will take longer during winter because of the low moisture-eliminating conditions.

  1. Can I Speed Up the Drying Process?

Yes, you can. However, you need to do it gradually to prevent the lumber from warping or checking.

  1. Can I Use a Dehumidifier to Dry Lumber?

Yes, you can. A dehumidifier draws out excess moisture from the lumber and quickens the drying process.

  1. Do I Need to Cover My Lumber when Air Drying?

No, you don’t. However, you should stack it and use stickers to separate the boards for adequate breathability and exposure to air.


Drying lumber is a crucial process in woodworking that requires patience and specialized knowledge. The drying time varies depending on several factors such as the type of wood, the thickness of the lumber, and the drying method. At Rock Hill Farms, we have a video on how long it takes to dry green lumber and other sawmill videos on our channel. We also have a Facebook group for Rock Hill Farm, use the hashtags #sawmill and #discoverthewoodland, and have a merch store for Rock Hill Farms T-shirts. You can support our channel by subscribing and buying us a coffee. Proper drying of lumber ensures the longevity and quality of your woodworking projects.

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