If you just bought a live edge slab and it'll be a few days until you get to finish it, you need to properly store your slab so it doesn't warp. The ideal storage for slabs once planed and/or sanded is:
- Out of direct sunlight and the elements
- Stacks on level ground on sticks or narrow boards
- Covered completely with moving blankets
Why Proper Storage is Extremely Important
Large wood slabs will warp within hours if they're not properly stored. If one side is exposed to more moisture than the other, wood will warp. This happens from getting wet and even from just moisture levels in the air.
Because slabs are prone to warping, even after they're properly dried, you must place them in the proper environment after you get them home. Do not leave them on your trailer, truck, or garage floor. Follow our tips to avoid having major warping issues.
After a slab is flattened, if they aren't finished, the pores of the slab are opened. This is what makes them so vulnerable to warping.
The Perfect Environments for Slabs To Keep Them From Warping
There are a few environments that are good for slabs. They must be kept indoors and room temperature is best. To store them, you have a few options.
1 - The first is by leaning them against a wall. Most slab showrooms will lean the slabs upright against the wall. This is known as the best way to store slabs once they're flattened and sanded. Each side of the wood is then evenly exposed to moisture in the air, which is ideal for keeping them flat.
2 - If you don't have access to a room with high ceilings to stand them upright, they can be laid flat. However, you will want to put them on 1" by 1" sticks. The sticks should be placed at the ends and every 2 feet across the full width of the slab. If you have multiple slabs, stack them and use the sticks on the bottom of the first slab, and between each slab stacked on top of it.
Lastly, if you don't have a place to put your slabs that's room temperature, you'll want to cover them with blankets on both sides. We highly recommend using blankets if your slabs are in a garage or pole barn.
Worse Places To Store Live Edge Slabs
The list of bad places to store live edge wood is extensive. A few places you shouldn't put your slabs are:
- Outside - Don't leave your slabs in the sun or rain. We don't recommend picking up slabs in the rain.
- On surfaces that aren't level - If you store your slabs on an area that isn't level, they will form to the shape of the area they're sitting.
- Areas where the weight isn't evenly distributed - An example of this would be putting a 12 foot slab on a 8 foot truck bed. The weight isn't evenly distributed so your slab will bow. This is also true for putting slabs on a roof rack of an SUV. A trailer is best for transporting slabs over 8' so they can sit flat. Any uneven distribution of the weight will cause stress on the slab, which leads to warping.
Other Tips for Storage & Transportation
Outside of the recommendations above, we have a few additional tips for moving and storing your slabs.
- Place them in blankets when you're moving them so they don't get scratched. This is important if your slabs are sanded.
- Put a temporary finish on them if it'll be a few weeks until you get to use them. Finished slabs are much less prone to warping. A quick finish such as oil will help keep your slabs flat.
- Bring a tarp or plastic with you at pickup. This can be wrapped around the slab just in case it rains on your drive home.
What To Do If Your Slab Warps
If your kiln dried slab warps before it's used, it's likely due to the conditions in which it was handled, transported, or stored. If it's a minor warp, try flipping the slab over for a few hours or days to see if it returns to it's normal state. For serious warping, it's likely the slab will need to be flattened again. Like all wood, if exposed to the elements such as the rain or even just direct sunlight on a humid day, wood slabs will warp. The best way to fix this is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Questions About Storage?
If you have questions about transportation or storage of your slabs, ask us at pickup or in the comments section below. Please no spam or links in the comment box, or your comment won't be approved. I will try to get back to you on any questions about live edge slab storage, as this is super important to ensure your table project goes as planned!
Nolan is one of the original members of the team at Lancaster Live Edge. Formerly, Nolan was the Marketing and Sales Manager at our company, and he also spent several hours a day building tables and custom furniture in our shop. Now, Nolan helps with our marketing initiatives. Prior to his time at Lancaster Live Edge, Nolan worked for years for his family’s custom home building company and has built everything from custom furniture to cabins to home additions.