Acclimating to my shop - Router Forums
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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Default Acclimating to my shop

Yesterday I was finally able to pick up the lumber that I need to make a new coffee table top. Just about all of my lumber is rough cut and I do all of the milling myself. In the past Ive used lumber that has been in my shop for a while so I've never had to ask this question. This time, the lumber that I purchased is needed as soon as possible for this project. My wife has told me that, so its true. The lumber yard stored the lumber in an air conditioned warehouse. My garage shop is not air conditioned but I do have a dehumidifier. I keep the dehumidifier set to 60% and it rarely runs even though the outside humidity, here in Florida during the summer, can reach 90%. Like breathing water.

I always rough mill and cut my project pieces oversize and let them re-acclimate to the shop for a day or two before I finish milling and cutting to final size.

The lumber in question: I purchased two 8/4 x 7x9 black walnut boards (and they are really black), one 8/4 x 5 x 7 hard white maple, and one 4/4 x 5 x 8 birds eye maple. All boards have been kiln dried. I will resaw the black walnut to end up with final size between 3/4" - 7/8".

Now, my question. Since I just moved the boards from the lumber yards air-conditioned warehouse to my garage shop, how long should I wait for them to acclimate to my shop before I start to rough mill them?

As always, thanks for your help.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 11:16 AM
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Do you have a meter to check MC, Barry? I buy Walnut in the rough directly from the sawmill where he kiln dries to around 8% to 10% and then I bring it into my climate controlled shop - just the opposite of your situation. Since I buy in advance I don't usually cut newer wood for a week or two, often longer.

When I need it right away I always check MC when I get it home and then let it set 3-4 days and check again. If it hasn't changed I go ahead and use what I need. If it's changing, and the application is critical for sizing, I'll wait until it stabilizes. That could be another 3-4 days or a bit longer.

Hope that helps.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 11:53 AM
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I think David's advice is good. 10-14 days, double checked moisture content until it stabilizes.

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 11:58 AM
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Barry; if I understood the explanation your shop is more humid than the warehouse? So in theory the wood is drier now than it will be eventually? Shrinkage is the normal issue and that's not going to happen so why not carry on.
We've often talked about bringing hardwood flooring into the rooms where it's going to be installed, a few days in advance, for the opposite reason under discussion, but I can't remember ever waiting for flooring to swell..
Drying might cause warping but what's gaining a couple of %age pts. of moisture going to cause?
A LOT of water would almost certainly cause buckling of flooring, but that's because the floor boards are restrained and have no room to swell.
This is a very interesting situation; I'm looking forward to hearing about other's experiences with wood gaining moisture (humidity).
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 12:03 PM
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I just thought of a possible downside: if you created a tight fitting mortise and tenon joint at the lower %age than if both the mortise and tenon swelled imperceptibly, than it's possible the joint partners may no longer fit in the future...unless the joint was assembled immediately after completion. Not ever coming apart!
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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I like David's approach. It does make sense since you're waiting for the wood to tell you when it's ready to be worked rather than you guessing. I've considered getting a moisture meter in the past but the good ones seem to be a bit pricey. Being on a fixed income isn't all it's cracked up to be. Is there such a thing as a good inexpensive moisture meter or is that an oxymoron? Which ones do you recommend?

Here's something else that your postings have brought to mind. I have thermometers with humidity gauges in my house and in the garage. Right now, the house is at 52%, the garage is 56%. The range since midnight last night is house 50 - 54 and garage 56 - 60. Is this enough to make a difference if I build the table (39" x 39") in the garage and then bring it into the house, where it will live, to attach the base?
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 01:46 PM
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It's going to change with the seasons anyway, Barry. We have a large solid wood buffet that lets out a sharp 'crack' at least twice a day, as the temp/humidity changes.
When we first bought it (at an Estate sale) we brought it home and put into our dining room of the place where we lived at that time (1983?). The house was electrically heated, and we didn't have a humidifier. Within two days one of the solid wood side panels cracked...
Bought a humidifier next day...took a week for it to stop running non-stop, ie the humidistat was finally satisfied. Betcha it went through 5 gal. of water!

Last edited by DaninVan; 11-01-2018 at 02:17 PM. Reason: Added text for clarity
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 02:07 PM
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I don't think that's enough difference to have an effect on anything. Acoustic guitars players have to be sensitive to the humidity and if you're talking 4% - 5% difference then that's really insignificant. Unless you're using a sling psychrometer for really accurate readings my guess is whatever you're using for testing the humidity may not be that accurate. Could be, but either way it's close enough.

The moisture meter I use is a General from either Lowe's or HD, don't recall. Seems like it was less than $30 and I went for the pinless. It may not be as accurate as a high dollar pin type meter but since I need to test thin wood for acoustic guitars I can't really use pins. My sawmill guy has both types and we've tested both his meters against my pinless and all three read within 1-2 points each time we tested.

When I set a board on the concrete shop floor and come back the next day to find the floor wet under the board I don't really need a meter to tell me that's a board not ready to use. And when I pick up a piece of rough 4/4 Walnut 8" wide by 8' long and it's a really heavy board then it's still wet. If it's light then it's probably dry enough to use. The moisture meter backs this up and gives me a number for reference.

One thing I do with each load I get, though, is to sticker them in the shop. Because I don't have much space and can't store much I usually only get about 6-8 boards and they're stickered until I use them. It's also easy to lift a few and check MC without really moving any boards.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, you've convinced me. New toy, didn't take much convincing. I've read a number of reviews for 2018 and have come up with two meters. One with pins and the other pinless. I'm leaning towards pinless since if i want to check a milled piece of wood I don't have to put any holes in it, even though the holes are tiny. However, I'd like the one that is quickest and easiest to use, assuming both are reasonably accurate. These are the two:

Pin - https://www.amazon.com/Calculated-In...or+woodworking

Pinless - https://www.amazon.com/d/Moisture-Me...or+woodworking

Which one would you choose or do you have another recommendation?
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 04:04 PM
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I would get the pinless for the reasons I stated above. That certainly looks like a good one and is a little better than the one I bought - https://www.generaltools.com/digital...or-bar-graph-1

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