Thank you for shopping at Kimball Hardwoods! Our refund and returns policy lasts 30 days. If 30 days have passed since your purchase, we can’t offer you a refund or return. To be eligible for a return, your item must be unused and in the same condition that you received it. Gift cards are non-refundable.

Once your return is received and inspected, we will send you an email to notify you that we have received your returned item and that your refund process has started. The amount will be applied to your original method of payment within a couple of days.

Returns & Shipping Returns
Before starting the return process, please send us an email at to go over your return.

To return your product, please mail your product to:
Kimball Hardwoods
711 Putnam Pike Unit 4
Greenville, RI 02828

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What Is Proper Wood Handling and Storage?

Kimball Hardwoods - Figured Maple Wood Movement and Proper Handling & Storage

“Wood is always moving. Just because you paid good money for your product does not mean it will stay flat and behave. You must handle it properly. Proper wood handling practices are the responsibility of both the supplier and the customer. In the wood industry, there are many people who lack wood handling knowledge, or worse, have been misinformed. I believe industry leaders who hold so much of this knowledge have a responsibility to educate the masses.”

- Derek Kimball of Kimball Hardwoods -

Reasons Why Wood Moves

Wood that has not been properly dried.

  • Wood can move due to inconsistencies in the board’s moisture levels. This is generally caused by suppliers who either don’t have a professional kiln or suppliers who have a makeshift kiln that is not properly insulated. In addition to proper insulation, a kiln must have proper air flow and a dehumidification process in order to ensure that the wood dries evenly and correctly.  At Kimball Hardwoods, we have a state of the art vacuum kiln which delivers one of the most consistent and accurate drying methods in the industry.

Stored up tension in the wood. Wood tension is caused primarily for a few reasons, although there are more.

  • Boards that contain both sapwood and heartwood can have stored up tension. This is in reference to boards that have heartwood on both faces or even just one face of the board. Heartwood is considered “old wood.” Heartwood has stopped supplying the tree with water, minerals, and nutrients.  In many cases, it is much denser and unstable than sapwood. The closer to the Pith or center heart you get, the more unstable the wood becomes. Sapwood is considered “new wood” or softer wood. Working with boards that have equal parts sapwood and heartwood will cause instability in the overall board. In addition to heartwood causing tension in many cases, it can also be in the sapwood as well.
  • Often, with boards that were cut from the lower portion of the tree or butt log, the lower section of a tree’s trunk experiences most of the tree’s tension and compression. Think of it as a tree’s lower back pain. Throughout the years, trees experience tension and compression down at the bottom butt of the tree/log just before the roots from swaying back and forth in the wind. Because of this, you may see erratic lobes and even a twist in the tree’s trunk. This is an indicator of potential tension.
  • Another cause of tension can be due to the irregularity of the annual ring growth within the board. For example, a board that has 50% flat sawn ring growth and 50% rift sawn would ring growth in the end grain is a board referred to as transition wood. This wood is okay to use for applications where the wood or boards are used for backing of flat gluing to another piece of wood which is called top wood. However, our professional advice is that transition wood is not good for guitar neck construction. A board that is either quarter sawn or rift sawn boards are considered structural wood or strong wood. Rift sawn wood means the annual ring growth is 30-60 degrees on the end grain of the board perpendicular to the face you plan on using for your wood application. Quarter sawn wood means the annual ring growth is 60-90 degrees on the end grain of the board perpendicular to the face you plan to use for your application. Disclaimer: There is a big misconception out in the industry when it comes to confusing strength for stability. Quarter sawn and rift sawn material are inherently stronger, however many people confuse this with making statements that they are much more stable. At Kimball Hardwoods, we don’t disagree with the statement that quarter sawn and rift sawn material is naturally more stable, however it is not exponentially more stable. Quarter sawn and rift sawn wood still moves if not handled correctly.
  • For a customer or processor of wood who receives wood boards or parts, it can be very difficult to foresee tension in wood if they did not process the master log themselves. This is why at Kimball Hardwoods, we will discard problem wood, rather than posting it for sale. We donate many pallets in a year to employees and local residents to help heat their homes during the cold winter months here in New England. We take great care in the way we process and sell wood to our customers with proper and accurate grading, detailed photographs, disclaimers and notifications on any imperfections, and how we describe, handle, package & ship our wood products. This costly and labor-intensive process is not accidental. It is deliberate to ensure you the customer receives the best product possible. 
  • Another way to identify a board with tension is to first mill or process the board. If that board, no matter how many times you mill it or store/stack it correctly, it moves, then it has a considerable amount of tension in it. In the industry, we use the term “angry wood” for this kind of board.

Improper Storage Conditions

Improper storage is the most common mistake made by both suppliers and customers. We understand that in many cases they may have limited space or storage. Unfortunately, wood doesn’t care. If you are experiencing consistent issues with wood movement in your storage area, it may be time to reassess where and how you store and handle your wood products.

Storing wood in garages or factories near large overhead doors can be extremely problematic. Large overhead doors allow dramatic swings in temperature and relative humidity. Wood does not like rapid change and in most cases with dramatic changes in temperature and humidity, it shows up in the form of unwanted or unanticipated wood movement. 

It's important to point out that wood products like to be stored in an environment that has a range of 35-45% relative humidity. If the humidity in your shop has been in this range and drops below the 35% mark, the wood may give off some of its moisture by showing up in wood movement. If your wood was stored in this range and the humidity goes up, your wood may take on moisture. The rule of thumb in the woodworking industry is if your wood has been stored and acclimated in your shop for some time, and there is a dramatic increase in humidity, for every 5% increase in humidity, your wood products can take on a moisture increase of 1%. The same can be said for dramatic decreases in humidity by losing 1% moisture in the wood from dramatic drops in humidity. 

Depending on where your shop is located and what time of year it is, you may need to either add or extract moisture. We understand this may be an expensive process, but the costs of defective products due to improper handling and storage pale in comparison to the initial expense. 

In many cases, the PBA wood glues that we all use have an exact water content. If you have a shop or operation that has high humidity, which may lead to artificial water gains in your wood products, you may end up with glue joint failure.

What Is EMC and Why Does It Matter?

EMC or Equilibrium Moisture Content is in reference to wood that is stored in a particular area of your shop where the wood has adjusted to the environment i.e. temperature, humidity, and ultimately the wood’s moisture content. This process can take weeks, if not longer. How the wood was dried, how it was stored/handled previously to you receiving it, and the conditions it experienced during the shipping process will also play a role in how long it takes for the wood to acclimate to your shop. If you do not keep your new wood product under truly flat referenced pressure during the acclimation process, it may move as a result. 

Opening Up Woods Grain and What To Do After You Mill Wood For The First Time

Have you ever wondered why your maple products turn a slight yellow color over time? Maple wood that has either been stored for a long time or is well acclimated in most cases becomes oxidized and may appear to be more yellow in color. This is normal and is called oxidation. Oxidation in maple creates a thin semi permeable barrier on the exterior of the wood. This is due to the amount of natural minerals and sugar in the wood combined with minor air flow (oxygen exposure) in your shop that over time, even with the small amount of moisture in the wood, moves toward the surface. This is also an added layer of protection that can shield the wood from changes in its surrounding environment like changes in temperature, and more importantly, humidity. Although this helps, it does not guarantee the wood won’t move. That is why proper storage and handling of the wood is highly recommended. Once you take wood off the shelf that has been well “seasoned” or acclimated and it’s time to start your project, that means you will start processing or surfacing the wood for the first time. The wood will now become vulnerable again to potential unwanted movement. Although maple wood is a closed grain wood, it still has smaller grain pores that can breathe. It’s important to note that once you start to mill the wood, which includes straight line rips, shaving, planning, sanding, jointing etc., you open the wood grain allowing for the wood to be susceptible to taking on moisture or extracting moisture depending on your shop’s conditions. Once you have finished processing the wood, it will need to be reacclimated and stored under even pressure using proper storing techniques.

Proper Vs. Improper Wood Storage

Before we walk through and give examples on the right and wrong way to stock and store wood, let’s recap some very important guidelines for successful storage or handling of your wood products.

  • Stacking wood: All wood, no matter what kind of wood product it is, will need to be stacked on a truly flat or even surface. You can’t assume that your tables or shelves are all flat. Even if they are made out of metal, metal can move over time. If you stack flat wood products on an uneven or non flat surface, the wood will eventually conform to that uneven surface, making the entire stack of wood uneven and warped. Even the smallest amount of wood movement may require you to resurface the wood for your project. This can result in wood products that, after flattening, become warped causing you to have to resurface the wood once again. Depending on how much room in thickness you have or close to your finished specification, this can lead to the wood dropping below your minimum flat specification, rendering your project as a re-do. This can quickly get expensive.
  • Stacking cupped or warped drop top sets, carved top sets, and neck blanks in the middle of a stack can lead to the product above the cupped or warped set becoming warped or cupped as well.
  • Before you stack and store your product, be sure to make all wood items truly flat.
  • In a perfect world, stacking products that are either identical or close in width and length dimensions will help mitigate unwanted wood movement. If you have a group of sets or neck blanks that range in width and length, then the ideal way to stack them, starting with the most critical, is by the width with the widest at the bottom leading to the narrowest at the top. When you’re stacking drop top sets or carved top sets, it is most ideal to have at least one true flat reference on the bottom of the stack. This will lay the foundation for the properly stacked/stored wood. On top of the stack, all that is required is weight covering the top surface area. Our recommendation is 15 lbs or more. Thin, wide, and highly figured wood is exceptionally vulnerable to wood movement, but it will surprise you how well it will behave as long as you follow these guidelines and photo examples below.

Stickering Wood Products

There seems to be some confusion in the wood industry with builders and woodworkers as to when and why you should sticker your wood products.

What are stickers and why do people use them?

  • Stickers are thin to thick pieces of wood that should have even thicknesses to all the same height. They are used to create space in between boards allowing air flow to pass through a stack of wood products to either air dry the wood or to speed up the wood acclimation process.

A stickers primary purpose are as follows:

  • To air dry wood boards, slabs, and billets long term. An important note is that if you are air drying your wood long term and you don’t have a kiln, this may be problematic. This can depend on what the wood will either be used for, who it will be sold to, and what their woodworking project/application is. In many applications where the wood will ultimately be glued if the wood was air dried, the wood may still have higher moisture levels, possibly leading to glue joint failure. This is dependent on where the wood has been stored, what time of year it is, and what the wood's moisture levels are at the time of processing. Here in the Northeast, ambient moisture levels in air dried wood during the warmer or summer months can be 15-19%, whereas in the colder or winter months, it can be 11-14%. The process of kiln drying the wood conditions the wood's cellulose to contract to an artificial lower moisture level at 6-8%. This will allow the wood to be reconditioned which means if the wood is stored in an area where moisture rises, it will take on moisture. However, it can extract the moisture under the right conditions back to its original kiln dried state of 6-8%. This generally does not happen with wood that was air dried. There is an exception to this. There are states and areas in the USA that are very dry and arid. These states are, but are not limited to, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and western Texas. 
  • To air dry boards, slabs, and billets short term to rid the wood of its surface water, you’ll want to make it more stable (reducing unwanted wood movement) before you put your products in the kiln. This will also shorten your drying process in the kiln, and in many cases, cost you less money to dry your wood.

We highly recommend taller or thicker stickers for air drying wet wood either short term or long term. We use 2” x 2” stickers that are spiral ground for air drying. This will allow more air flow through the stacks of wood. Spiral ground stickers also have the least amount of contact with the wood which reduces the likelihood of staining. If you are attempting to dry a sapping wood like maple, this may help in reducing the potential for stain. However, knowing if your wood is high in sap is even more critical to preventing or reducing stain. This is in reference to the wood being either a winter harvest log, which is lower in sap, or a summer harvest log, which is higher in sap. If there is a lower amount of sap, there is a lower amount of stain potential during the drying process. In all cases, we highly recommend air flow at all times on the boards once it has been cut.

For kiln drying your wood products, we highly recommend using spiral ground stickers with a .75” - 1” thickness. This will allow the air to flow over and through the boards and stacks, mitigating unwanted sticker stain.

Stickering Kiln Dried Surfaced Wood

We highly recommend that you do not sticker kiln dried surfaced flat wood. We have seen so many guitar manufacturers, builders, and woodworkers do this. Unless you need to use the wood you have either dried yourself,  just recently received right away, or to speed up the acclimation process, there is no need to do this.

The Flat Pack Acclimation Method - Your kiln dried surfaced flat wood will acclimate either in the strapped pack or plastic, even if it is flat packed. It may take a little longer due to lack of face grain exposure with the end grain being the only breathing wood. In most cases, guitar builders and woodworkers purchase wood in advance for projects coming up in many weeks to months. Because of this, this practice will ensure the most stable acclimation of your wood products in your shop or factory. Not taking the Flat Pack Acclimation Method approach may leave your wood products vulnerable to unwanted wood movement in the form of cupping, bowing, twisting, and crooks.

Depending on what your project is, the final thickness, and the current thickness of the wood, this may cause you to drop below your minimum thickness for your project. We recommend plastic wrapping or strapping your surfaced flat wood boards or billets. We recommend properly stacking veneers, thin drop tops, and carved tops with a flat surface on the top and bottom of the stack with weight on top.

If you are in need of traditional rectangular stickers or spiral ground stickers, we recommend the following vendor below. It is important to note that this is for commercial use, as they are only sold in pallet quantities. 

DHM Company / Kendall Timber Company
Troy, Tennessee
Contact: Kelvin Kendall
Phone: (731) 446 - 4069

Photos Examples Of Spiral Ground Stickers and The Improper & Proper Ways To Stack Surfaced Flat Neck Blanks, Drop Tops, & Carved Tops Below:

2” x 2” Spiral Ground Stickers For Short Term and Long Term Air Drying

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⅞” Spiral Ground Stickers For The Kiln Drying Process

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The Improper Way To Stack and Store Surfaced Flat Neck Blanks

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The Proper Way to Stack and Store Surfaced Flat Neck Blanks

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The Improper Way Of Stacking and Storing Drop Tops and Carved Tops


The Proper Way To Stack and Store Drop Tops and Carved Tops