How To Tell If Wood Is Dry Enough For Woodworking

How To Tell If Wood Is Dry Enough For Woodworking
  • Author: Amanda Arnold
  • Posted On: May 6, 2022
  • Updated On: August 21, 2023

Anyone who works with wood should know how the material reacts to moisture in the environment. Wood moisture content should constantly be on your mind if you’re a cabinet maker, a hardwood flooring professional, or if you utilize wood in construction.

Hygroscopicity is a property of wood. The relative humidity of the surrounding air causes it to absorb or lose water moisture. Because of the changing humidity levels in the air, wood not only gains or loses water moisture but also expands and contracts.

The moisture content of the wood expands as the humidity level rises. The moisture content of the wood shrinks as the humidity falls. If you create something out of wood that isn’t completely dry, shrinkage will damage it, causing assembled parts to warp and joints to fail.

Understand The Wood Moisture Content

Before using the wood for woodworking, make sure it’s dried within two percentage points of the equilibrium moisture content in the area where you’ll utilize it.

It takes time for the wood to air dry, and lumber must be stacked and separated to expose all sides of the lumber. As a general rule, it takes one year for the wood to dry sufficiently to be worked for each inch of timber thickness. Time is money, as we all know, and this is a significant commitment.

For curing wood, there are various types of kilns. They’re big, insulated rooms with a regulated climate that speeds up the drying time.

The logic behind kiln drying is straightforward: by increasing the temperature and airflow in a controlled environment, the drying process is evened out.

Kiln Drying Is The Best And Quick Way To Dry Wood

For seasoning wood, a variety of kilns are available. They are big, enclosed chambers with a regulated climate that helps the drying process go faster. The logic behind kiln drying is straightforward. The drying process is evened out by increasing the temperature and airflow in a controlled environment.

If a less controlled technique is used, the exterior shell will dry faster than the inside core. Moisture pockets can be prevented, resulting in equal drying. Uneven drying can be caused by poor kiln management, such as an incorrect schedule of controlled conditions. The outside shell of the wood might dry up faster than the center.

When the core dries, the push-pull between the core and the shell can cause the core to fracture, resulting in honeycombing.

Steps To Air-Dry Wood

Add Spacers Between Stacks

The sawmill wood is extremely wet and may contain a high percentage of moisture. Water appears as you drive a nail into this wood. If you wish to air-dry this wood, make sure there are spacers between each layer.

To prevent mold from growing, make sure the wood is placed in an area with some airflow. Outside, a shady area is ideal. A garage may be lacking in airflow.

Increase Air Circulation In Your Home

Winter is an excellent time to dry wood since heated rooms provide perfect drying conditions. If you use the appropriate tips, the drying process will be quick. As you develop wood projects, start by giving a few days for drying time following each design and cutting stage.

The most drying is required for newly exposed wood, which must be done before beginning the project. Stack wood surfaces with all sides exposed to speed up the drying process. Point a home fan towards your wood to speed up the process. The increased air movement will hasten the drying of the wood.

Protect Wood Stack From Rain

When you’ve finished building your stack, make sure to weigh it down and protect it from the elements if it’s outside. This usually entails procuring a piece of plywood large enough to cover the entire top of the stack, laying it on top, and then weighing it down with cinderblocks or bricks, preferably in large quantities, to produce pressure.

Because wood may warp as it cures, which is bad for woodworking tasks, you must weigh it down adequately to prevent future flaws. If you have the stack outside, a piece of plywood like this will help keep the rain off.

Final Thoughts

As we discussed above, the ideal moisture level of wood is around six to eight percent. However, this moisture level depends on factors such as humidity and location. If you want to use the wood for any woodworking project, you have to make sure that it is dried completely.

The reason is that improperly dried wood might expand once you have used it in any project. So, it will lead you to different problems.

Above all, it is really important to the kiln or air dry your wood before using it for any project. Hopefully, this article will help you know about the right moisture level of wood and how to dry it appropriately.

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Author: Amanda Arnold

Amanda has been working with ConstructionHow since 2021. Her experience spans over 5 years in the creative niche such as home decor and trends, landscaping, renovations, and custom architectural values. As a home designer expert, she has a keen eye for the latest home improvement trends with accurate facts that readers find impossible to ignore. Being invested in home-building trends is how she has gained her lucrative expertise exploring more to bring a positive ambiance for all homeowners (and even tenants!). Currently, she lives in a beautiful beach home, a source of fascination for her.