Wood moisture content, higher in my new shop - Router Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-26-2015, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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Default Wood moisture content, higher in my new shop

I checked several pieces of wood tonight for moisture content and they were all 9% - 11%. This is in my new garage shop and the wood has been there all summer. We have had a much wetter year than average, at least one 45 day period where it rained (no lie, not kidding) EVERY SINGLE DAY for six weeks straight. This shop also has no insulation, is not heated or cooled with the house beyond a window AC unit or gas heater. It is a brick house, and the garage shop is fully bricked on all exterior walls, and shares one wall with the house that is not bricked. The house has no insulation either. There were several days this past summet when the atmosphere inside the shop felt like outside, from heat and humidity.

In my old basement shop, wood always stayed very dry at 5%-7%. Now I am worrying that this increase in average moisture will have a noticeable effect on my projects. Should I be concerned? I have only lived here six months. Don't know what winter will bring. I currently have no plans to insulate or upgrade the heating and cooling. I just want to know if you all think I can get by as is and not have severe changes in what I am used to in woodworking in these new conditions.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2015, 12:44 AM
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The humidity should go down this winter. There is a big difference between a basement and an insulated space at ground level. Remember, the ground maintains a fairly constant temperature year round and as long as there is no water problems (infiltration), with good ventilation, then the humidity probably remained fairly constant and lower then the outside. Different story with the garage. Fluctuations in temperatures and exposure to outside humidity are the problem.

9-11% is really not that excessive for wood. Sorry, but that is probably the reality for your part of the country. Try living along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. I'd be grateful for those kinds of figures.

I guess I'd have to ask what the average humidity level inside the house is normally. I understand your concern, however, be realistic. If you are building "fine furniture" and are worried about severe shrinkage once it moves to a permanent home with a lower moisture level, then do what some folks do...take the wood and store it in the house so it acclimates before you use it. This way if you are shooting for that mystical ideal percentage there won't be a drastic change when it is finished and inside for good.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2015, 07:17 AM
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This is the important bit, and I agree by the way. "9-11% is really not that excessive for wood". N
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2015, 07:59 AM
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Relative humidity where I live hovers around 60% year-round. I don't have a moisture meter, so I don't know what the moisture level in my wood is, but I'll bet it's higher than yours. But the relative humidity in my home hovers around 40-50%, so it's not a problem as long as the items I build go in my house. It's the humidity swings that kill you. I did build one item that went in a very large commercial building. I know the humidity gets real low in the winter there because of the static electricity from walking on the carpet. I did have some problems with wood shrinkage on that piece, but I had broken all the rules and made no provisions whatever for movement in the design.

Here's my thoughts:
1. The wood needs to be thoroughly dry (kiln dried) before you bring it home. If not, It can take years for it to dry out sufficiently in your shop.
2. The wood needs a few days to acclimate to the humidity levels in your shop before you make the final cuts.
3. Take the time and effort to design for wood movement so it won't destroy your piece when it does happen. Remember that wood moves about twice as much in the tangential (along the circumference of the growth ring) direction as the radial (across the growth rings) direction, and it practically doesn't move at all along the length of the board (end grain to end grain). Various woods have different rates of shrinkage, but a good rule of thumb is to allow for 1/8 inch of movement for every 12 inches of cross-grain width.

Instead of worrying over the things that are hard to control, like the humidity levels in your shop, spend your time on the things that are easier to control, like the design of your piece.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2015, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Duane Bledsoe View Post
This shop also has no insulation.
You and Rick are starting a trend.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2015, 01:48 PM
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Pretty much all the work I do is on wood with a 10-15% MC. I seal it pronto and even thinned stock joints hold tight.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2015, 02:16 PM
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Most woodworkers hope for a working range of +/- 10*. If you sell professionally you have no way of knowing where your work will wind up so you build so that the wood can move where it needs to.

The inside of a house should be between 30 and 70% R humidity. At 30 you start getting dry mouth and eyes and headaches. At 70 and more you risk mould. Your workshop should be closer to 30 I would think as there are no moisture sources except you when you are in it. It still is a matter of building to allow movement no matter.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2015, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by old coasty View Post
You and Rick are starting a trend.
Ok I was waiting patiently . I thought , why is no one jumping down his throat

I dont always insulate , but when I do .
Ok ,I never insulate
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2015, 04:07 PM
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I made a dining room table for my son in Albuquerque,NM that was 1 1/4"X40"X96" a few years ago. The clear VG pine material I used was Kiln Dried,I didn't
test the moisture level here in Seattle when I made it. About 3 months after I delivered it and set it up,he called and "Guess What Dad?' It had split length wise down the middle. All of the pine beams and lintels in his house were cracked and split,and he said the table matches now.LOL
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-27-2015, 05:24 PM
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I live in Tennessee and have a garage shop with AC and a dehumidifer. I will empty the dehumidifer twice a day. I am just saying that garages get a lot of humidity in them.

Don in Murfreesboro,Tn.

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