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Drying Maple

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Blog entry by Echofive posted 06-12-2014 06:00 PM 929 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

New England has had a lot of rain this year. I have some maple I want to use for a project and it keeps cupping. As it dries, it flattens back out, but it’s obvious when there’s more moisture in the air. I was thinking about putting it in one of those big vacuum bags with some rice to help dry it out.

Thoughts?

-- Chip, Virginia



5 comments so far

View Grumpymike's profile

Grumpymike

1918 posts in 1780 days


#1 posted 06-13-2014 05:39 PM

I would stack the lumber on a flat surface, lay stickers every 2-3 feet, and place stickers between the boards directly over each other to the last course.
On the top course I place a plywood strip and on top of the plywood I place sand bags to add weight.
The weight will help in keeping the boards flat as they dry… or cure as I call it. I cure my wood for 1 year per inch of thickness.
I have some Elm that came off my neighbors tree when I lived in Kansas City, I used this method with the 24” long stock and today I have boards that are dead flat after two passes on the jointer.
Wood will move with ambient air humidity, So we woodworkers try to use as much vertical grain or ‘quarter sawn’ wood as we can find because it is the most stable.
Flat sawn or rift sawn wood will have a tendency to cup to the sap wood side, and will have the most movement with changes in humidity. But the good news is that if it is cured correctly and slowly air dried it will be more stable than poorly cured lumber. (read kiln dried here)
If lumber for furniture is used before it has cured to 4% to 6% moisture it will move … alot

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Echofive's profile

Echofive

98 posts in 2717 days


#2 posted 06-13-2014 05:42 PM

Thanks, Mike!

-- Chip, Virginia

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4858 posts in 2278 days


#3 posted 06-13-2014 05:46 PM

To dry the lumber you need three things…
1. Air movement such as fans.
2. Heat such as small electric heaters.
3. Some way to remove moisture, typically a household dehumidifier.

Put these three things in an enclosed space for a couple weeks, and you will have some nice usable lumber.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Echofive's profile

Echofive

98 posts in 2717 days


#4 posted 06-13-2014 06:05 PM

I suppose I should have said that this lumber is from Lowe’s. It’s already been cut down to to about 125% of the finished dimensions. No piece is over 3’ long or 15” wide, and the wide planks were bought as multiple boards jointed and joined. I’m not dealing with massive planks of green lumber.

Further, I don’t really have an area in my small abode where I can quarantine the wood with a heater and dehumidifier. Ultimately, I want a climate controlled shop, but that is a few years away. Until then, I have to find ways around doing it the right way.

I appreciate all responses and ideas. Willie, I appreciate the tip about heat.

Also, I understand this isn’t a blog and i should have posted in Forums. I actually thought I did, but made a mistake when making entry on my phone.

-- Chip, Virginia

View Grumpymike's profile

Grumpymike

1918 posts in 1780 days


#5 posted 06-14-2014 06:06 PM

Echo5 I think your in the right spot here … In buying pre-milled or dimensional lumber from any big box, try to find the most vertical grain and take it home. Then stack it in your shop with stickers and weight.
You can cut it to rough length and stack it to save room.
Let the wood adjust to the humidity in your shop … I like to let mine sit for about two weeks, then check it with a meter.
I have brought home pine that looked great in the store and about a week later it looked like a bent airplane propeller … twisted and bowed with a severe cup.
As for the heaters, fans, and dehumidifiers; they might help a bit if you cure your lumber in a dedicated box, (kiln)but you will get better results if you stack the wood in the garage along the wall or between the cars.
Remember that if you create a false environment for your wood it WILL move after you make your project and it adjusts to the home environment.
I have taken some expensive lessons buying hardwood at the big box … They buy the cheapest and lowest grade wood that their buyers can find. Pay a few cents more per BDFT and purchase your lumber from a hardwoods dealer.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

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