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can wood be too dry?

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  • can wood be too dry?

    Grampa used to own a sawmill. 1920's to 1960's. Dad and us kids moved lumber (stickered) in the 70's and built a barn to store wood and machinery. Basement holds stacks of very dry oak, walnut, basswood ect. Is it ok to make furniture from today?

  • #2
    Re: can wood be too dry?

    Basements are usually damp, the wood will likely need a month or more in the shop before it is ready to use. Check it with a moisture meter too be safe

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    • #3
      Re: can wood be too dry?

      Yes, wood CAN be too dry. But its easy to deal with and doesn't have much to do with how long the wood has been stored. Although I agree that in a basement, the problem could be that is it too damp, not too dry.

      Wood does not dry out more the longer it sets. Freshly cut, "green" wood will naturally lose moisture until it is equilibrium with the air in the spot where it is stored. The moisture content (absolute humidity) of air varies quite a bit seasonally. Generally, warm air contains more entrained moisture than cold air. Therefore, once it has lost its initial moisture, wood generally absorbs moisture from the air in warmer weather and loses moisture to the air in colder weather. Hence, you will see that wood will expand across the grain during the summer months and contract during the colder winter months. Of course the artificial heating and or humidification system in your home will affect this.

      The important thing to do is to allow the wood to acclimate itself to the environment where it is going to be used before you build the piece of furniture. This is the reason that you should, for instance, bring your solid wood flooring into your home and let is set for a few weeks before installing. Much commercial lumber such as flooring is dried in a kiln, not air dried, and may well be too dry when it comes out. Although lately I notice that lumber is not very dry... seems they are in a rush to get it out of the kiln! In any case, if you, for instance, install wood flooring that is too dry from the kiln, it will absorb moisture from the room (or basement - always install a vapor barrier!!) and expand, resulting in cupped floorboards.

      I generally bring lumber into the shop and give it a few weeks or month to equilibrate before I use it. This seems to work fine. Since yours has been in the basement, I agre that a couple months may be safer.

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      • #4
        Re: can wood be too dry?

        wood is constantly in a state of movement, the major reason is moisture,
        if the wood is very dry, and some thing is made of it, and if there is not constructed for movement, the wood expanding could cause problems as it is moved in to a wetter environment,

        so use good construction methods, let the wood acclimate and there should not be a problem.

        but if I had a choice I would prefer wood that is dry or extra dry than wet lumber,
        (built a table top section out of construction lumber, and it was not throughly dried, and a few weeks later, I was in the next room and heard this crack and the top had split in two places, (I knew it was wetter than it should be but to meet the date dead line it was make it, so it was usable for the occasion and deal with the problems later).
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