From professional carpentry shops to basement work benches, every wood shop includes the challenge of how to store and organize wood. A good system of organization can prevent you from damaging wood accidentally and also eliminate unnecessary lumber purchases by making the most of your existing stock. There are a few things you can do to keep your wood organized, whatever your space or budget limitations may be.
One way to organize large amounts of wood, including oddly-shaped pieces, is to construct one or more lumber racks. A lumber rack can be a sturdy shelf or simply a series of metal brackets, placed close enough together to support even smaller pieces of wood at two or more points. Install lumber racks on a woodworking shop's walls above the level of benches of machines, but not so high that you can't reach the stored wood comfortably.
For larger shops, you can add more than one lumber rack and devote each rack to a certain type of wood, making it easy to find a matching piece for a future project. Lumber racks can also be arranged according to the size or quality of the wood.
Another organization idea for larger pieces of wood is upright storage, with the wood against a wall. Rather than angling the lumber and wasting space, stack the wood flat against the wall and use a retaining strap or sturdy rope to keep the wood from falling.
Store the largest pieces of wood closest to the wall. This will let you see as many pieces of wood as possible without removing the strap and sorting through the lumber.
To organize smaller pieces of wood, use bins or boxes below a work bench. Depending on the size of the bench, use a series of bins for different types of wood or separate wood that is useful for future projects from scrap wood that you'll use to test tools or as push sticks. If space is limited, sort through these bins on occasion and keep only the largest pieces of wood while recycling the rest. This practice will ensure that you never run out of storage space or have to discard good, usable wood.
If you work with high-quality lumber, such as intricately-patterned planks used in furniture design or crafting fine wooden tools, keep your very best pieces of wood separate from the rest. Wrap the wood in kraft paper and label the package's contents so that you won't have to continually open the package to see what's inside and risk damaging the wood.
For even more secure long-term storage, wrap the wood in paper, then wrap it again in a soft cloth sheet. This will also make the wood easier to transport while ensuring that it looks its best when that special project comes along.
When organizing your woodworking shop, think about where you'll be most likely to use wood. Store the wood as close as possible to the saws, benches and floor space where you're likely to need it. This will make it easier to move wood around the shop and also cut down on the chances that you'll damage wood while moving it back and forth through the shop.
Also, keep bins on hand to dispose of scrap wood so that it doesn't become mixed in with pieces you want to save. Make sure these bins are near the saws and drills that you'll be operating when you produce the scrap.