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The Space Eating Lumber Virus

Want more space in your shop?

Get rid of the wood! Wait…what?

Build a lumber shed. Okay maybe this is a bit of overkill

Build a lumber shed. Okay maybe this is a bit of overkill

I’m serious, how many of us have dedicated space in our shops for a lumber rack. That stuff takes up a LOT of space. What is worse is that once you have selected the stock for your project the lumber rack is completely ignored until you start another project.

If you had a tool that got used for a few minutes every few months and took up 8-10′ of wall space and possibly 30 square feet or 240 cubic feet you would probably sell it.

Ditch the lumber and start woodworking

We are woodworkers not wood collectors or wood dealers right? So why do we waste so much space in our preciously guarded and constantly re-engineered shop layouts! I have been asking myself that same question for at least 5 years.

My original thought was to place a lumber rack on the wall above my miter saw and right by the garage door. That way I could bring lumber straight from the car onto the rack and then easily down from above to the miter saw for rough break down into project sized parts for milling.

What am I, a millworks running 5000 feet of moulding an hour?

The reality is that I spend about an hour at the beginning of a project selecting my boards for the upcoming project. This involves:

  • taking boards down and looking them over
  • capturing some measurements
  • doodling on them in lumber crayon
  • air guitar breaks
  • restacking minus my selected pieces

I rarely went right to the miter saw and often skipped over that to the bench for all of the above stuff. Then maybe I went to the miter saw or the bandsaw to start breaking down into parts.

Then I sold my miter saw and my band saw and my table saw…oh the madness!

The point is that regardless of my tooling my lumber storage just does not need to be so accessible. Additionally lumber is like a highly contagious virus…it spreads quickly. With a rack so accessible, I have a place to stick that off cut that isn’t so small as to be pitched. Before I knew it my lumber rack was overflowing with lots of 2 foot long pieces sandwiched in between larger boards like a game of timber Tetris (ooh alliteration).

That’s it! I’m done, this isn’t working, I need my space! It’s most definitely not me, its all you! Be gone to the back yard and stop wasting my space and encouraging my pack rat ways.

The Lumber Shed

LumberShed (2)

I built this 8 years ago and it finally is doing something useful

So it was that I began moving lumber out to my garden shed in the back yard. This started about 2 years ago in a highly unorganized way.

Though I now have 2 years of proof that my garden shed is a perfectly valid place to store my lumber without having to worry about (gasp) uncontrolled temperature and moisture changes.

lumber racksSo while I was waiting for my plywood to sheath my newly framed walls in the shop I decided to get serious about firing my shop wasting lumber rack. I happened to have quite a few 2×4 cut offs left over from that framing job and a box of stainless steel screws so off I tramped to the shed (after some strategic pooper scooping along the way, my dog is nothing if not prolific).

Regain shop space

Look at all that space! The cabinets beneath were full of lumber too

An hour later and I had several racks on the wall and a lot of empty shelf space to store my stash. The hardest part was schlepping all that lumber around the house to the shed, but by my calculations I have regained 40 square feet in the shop or more important, 320 cubic feet since the lumber stash dominated the entire wall.


Let’s Take a Closer Look

Whoop-de-doo, who cares?

Well my new Grizzly planer requires only 16 cubic feet and this is a purchase I have long put off for fear that I would not have enough space to graduate from a bench top model to a floor model machine. Even better I have a lot of free space around it for infeed/outfeed, mobility, and just plain breathing room.

No Lumber At All???

I can’t banish lumber from my shop completely of course and I will also need a place to store my current project lumber to acclimate or rest after heavy milling. I also want to have a small space for scraps. I do a lot of demonstrations from my shop and so am always looking for a small piece on which to cut a joint or show off a technique. This is all in addition to the normal project related reasons to have scrap laying about. They key here is a very small space dedicated to scraps. If I overflow it, then its time to address it not flow up into the racks above it like I previously did. So I’m still working out what those lumber needs will look like but I think I have stopped the virus and with proper planning will prevent it from spreading again. Heck this move made a new tool purchase viable and who can ever complain about that!

Your Turn

How do you store your lumber? Does it waste space or get in the way? How would you handle your scrap storage and current project storage? Any ideas for me that you can share? Please do in the comments below.

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