Air Dried vs. Kiln Dried Lumber #1: Which should I use?

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Blog entry by IkeandBerry posted 09-09-2009 02:48 PM 6817 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I am going to be starting my first paying project in the next few weeks. It is a big step for me in my wood working. I am building a set of custom bookcases with a window bench for a friend. I found a very good local lumber mill that only deals in reclaimed lumber. They offer both air dried and kiln dried lumber. My friend is somewhat budget conscious and would like to have the bookcases built our of oak to match the rest of his house. The lumber yard has air dried white oak at a really good price right now because he is running out of space for his air drying area. What should I be looking for when I go to look at the lumber, I have never used air dried lumber before? Also are there any concerns about expansion and contraction of the finished piece. I live in South Eastern Michigan. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

-- There is nothing like the sound of a hand plane passing across a board in an otherwise quiet shop.

7 comments so far

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3917 days

#1 posted 09-09-2009 02:56 PM

There are pros and cons to both KD ad AD. The single biggest reason I like KD is that any bugs, termites, ants, moths, powder post beetles are DEAD!!!

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3642 days

#2 posted 09-09-2009 06:35 PM

I have never used air dried lumber but think kiln dried would be more stable. I am concerned about the term “reclaimed”. If this material was once part of some other construction be sure to go over it with a metal detector to locate any nails. If this project is to match existing oak have you been able to identify if it is red or white oak? There are subtle differences in appearance.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View IkeandBerry's profile


45 posts in 3288 days

#3 posted 09-09-2009 06:40 PM

By reclaimed they mean that some of it comes from old barns or buildings and is remilled into more dimensional lumber. They also purchase a lot of downed trees from people to mill into lumber. Mainly they do not harvest trees for lumber. They also check the wood for metal before milling so as not to damage their own tools. My friend is not entirely concerned with species matching exactly as he is more interested in the look of the piece matching the rest of the woodwork in his house. The only other wood in the room is the oak flooring and painted trim. Thanks for the advice.

-- There is nothing like the sound of a hand plane passing across a board in an otherwise quiet shop.

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3549 days

#4 posted 09-09-2009 10:37 PM

As long as the moisture is low enough, I’d go for the air dried oak before I’d touch the kd stuff. Air dried lumber has generally less internal stress than kiln dried since it dries much slower. If the moisture is a bit higher than desired, just stack and sticker it in an attic for a few weeks with a fan blowing on it.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3962 days

#5 posted 09-10-2009 01:36 AM

I’m also in Southeast Michigan and I’ve used only air dried lumber the last couple years and have had no problems. There’s a good guy I buy from near Almont with good wood and good prices.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3917 days

#6 posted 09-10-2009 04:27 AM

wood be it AD and or KD… no simple answer . I think that the kiln and kiln master is much like moonshine…........a lot of research, a lot of money, goes into the recipe b4 you can enjoy it to its fullest

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View pintodeluxe's profile


5702 posts in 2836 days

#7 posted 04-12-2012 06:38 PM

My favorite lumber is first air dried down to 15-17%, then kiln dried in a dehumidification kiln down to 6-8%. Using wood above 10% moisture content for indoor projects is asking for trouble.
Lumber is pretty easy to dry yourself.

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

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