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All Replies on Wet vs. Dry? Knowing when to start working the wood - Using 2-Pin Moisture Meters (1-12-2007)

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View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Wet vs. Dry? Knowing when to start working the wood - Using 2-Pin Moisture Meters (1-12-2007)

by Mark A. DeCou
posted 2749 days ago


19 replies so far

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2833 days


#1 posted 2749 days ago

My friend that had me build his kitchen cabinets (My best pimp) saw a cen-tech moisture meter at Harbor Freight for about $8.00 and bought it for me, thinking it was “cute”. I stuck his bench in his garage… nothing. I stuck my finger… 24 I stuck the tree in his front yard off the scale. Great item for $8.00 And you’re right, knowing the moisture content is very valuable when it comes to working with wood when you don’t know the moisture content. NOTHING is worse than working with wet wood and have your beautiful project split when it’s sitting in a customer’s house in the living room where it’s warmest, and everyone can see it.

Next time I’m at his house I’ll take pics of the tree house I built in his front yard.

View scottb's profile

scottb

3647 posts in 2923 days


#2 posted 2749 days ago

Only 24% Obi… must be drier in Calif. I thought that people were mostly water 75% or greater?!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2896 days


#3 posted 2748 days ago

Obi must be a well callused individual.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2833 days


#4 posted 2748 days ago

try it your self… on the outside you aren’t as wet as you are on the inside … kinda like lumber

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2773 days


#5 posted 2748 days ago

Mark, thanks for this. I must confess, I’ve ignored this subject up ‘til now.

My reasons for doing so is that Melbourne is into the tenth year of a drought and everything is bone dry. Also, I usually purchase lumber that has been kiln dried, or properly air dried. (I prefer the latter.)

I’ve been fortunate so far. To my knowledge, none of my work has self destructed.

You make reference to your “dehumidifier”. Can you tell us more?

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

View Karson's profile

Karson

34853 posts in 2997 days


#6 posted 2748 days ago

Mark: Do you know what is the stable moisture content of Kansas. In New Jersey where I lived it was about 15%. A board out of the weather would stabalize at around that number. The wood that I stored in my barn was 15% on the first floor but in the attic where there was a metal roof and I used to store hay, the wood would get to 7%. It would get about 130 deg in there in the summer.

I’ve not had any work self destruct because of the 15% figure. I tend to make everything with styles and rails and raised panels which minimizes wood movement.

I take it back. I did some cross glueing (which is a no-no) for a small storage box and it did self destruct. But it was probably a matter of bad construction techniques as anything else.

I just tested some of the wood in my workshop and its running about 11%. This would be on wood that I brought from New Jersey that was a combo of 7% and 15% wood. They are all mixed together now. Some cherry that I got from a barn at the sawmill that is all air-dried and under cover tested out at 11 – 13%. I was going to test the wood that is in my house, but failed to bring in the moisture meter. I own two of them a Lignomat pin meter and a Wagner pinless meter. I’ve not seen the Wagner since the move that was why I bought the Lignomat. So when I find it I can compare the two meters to see how they compare. The lignomat has a slide hammer that allows you to drive pins about 1” into the wood to get internal readings. I’ve not tried that yet.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 2907 days


#7 posted 2731 days ago

I bought one of the Harbor Freight meters and was presently surprised that my two year air dried white oak was around 8% moisture content. Not bad for my first time at riving and drying wood, eh?

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2758 days


#8 posted 2729 days ago

I have been thinking of buying a moisture meter as well, but have been debating between the pin model and the non-pin model.

Based on the price, the Harbor Freight sounds great. Does it give you an actual percent, or just a red light in a specific range?

What do the others think, pin or non-pin model?

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2833 days


#9 posted 2729 days ago

It is numbered from 1 to 35

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1973 posts in 3002 days


#10 posted 2729 days ago

Hey folks: like I said in my first sentence of this article, I didn’t really have the time to finish up the information in a manner that the topic deserves. I have been reading all of your questions, and needs for more information, and I will be trying to round up all of my supporting information, and personal experience to get the article into a format where it better answers the type of questions we all want to know. The same questions I had before I decided to buy my moisture meter. Remember, the Harbor Freight one is cheap, and that helps with the decision to push forward with getting one, even in the darkness of insufficient information.

I screwed up a piece of my latest project yesterday, so I am scrambling to start over on a piece of it, and so I really need to get back to the shop now. (more on that later, with photos, stay tuned).

sorry,
Mark

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1973 posts in 3002 days


#11 posted 2729 days ago

Karson: I have been pondering your first question for a couple of weeks. Can you do me a favor, and check the moisture content of something that has been in your house for several years. For instance, the back of a kitchen cabinet drawer, or a dresser drawer side. Somewhere that won’t hurt to have 2-pin holes. If you can do that, then give me the reading you get, and that will help me answer your question about moisture content between different geographic regions. There are many of you out there that live on the coasts, and the moisture is different for sure. What is most important, is the moisture content in the home that the furniture sits in. For instance, my 6-year old kitchen cabinets drawer sides read 7% moisture content.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

34853 posts in 2997 days


#12 posted 2728 days ago

Mark:

Here is what I found out.

Walnut outside for 2 years under a plastic sheet, No visable water on the wood. End 14, side 15
Walnut inside barn, only heated when I’m working there and only to about 55 degrees Only had maybe 15 – 20 heating days this winter. Inside barn for 2 years. Inside NJ barn for 5+ years. End 8.7 Side 7.8
My meter (Lignomat) only gives deciminal reading when under 10%.
Oak cabinet face frame in kitchen 5.2
Pine shelving around my computer, I said Ponderosa Pine but I don’t know 4.8 If Lodgepole pine it was 4.2, Southern yellow pine 2.7. It’s pine I’m sure but what kind. I can’t believe its Southern Yellow. You’d alnost have to bake it in an oven to get it to 2.7.
Oak table thats posted in projects as Table for my Son is 8.9

If I can give any additional info let me know.

Karson

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2758 days


#13 posted 2704 days ago

Nice and dry wood Karson. I have ordered an inexpensive moisture meter through Amazon, so I will be testing it out soon. I am almost afraid to think what my wood in the shop may be, since it has been there only a few months at most.

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View Dollarbill's profile

Dollarbill

91 posts in 2734 days


#14 posted 2704 days ago

I do a lot of work with wood that is 15% (Ligno $130) and it turns out fine. But this is South Louisiana. Low humidity here in winter is 75%.

I only work in the winter because I spend my summers in Russia but the humidity in LA in summer is average 95%.

Bill

-- Make Dust

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2758 days


#15 posted 2703 days ago

Has anyone tried the no-pin models? I am just wondering if the accuracy is better with the pins or not. I do like the thought of no pin holes, but the cost is a bear.

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

34853 posts in 2997 days


#16 posted 2703 days ago

Bill:

I’ve used the pinless model. In fact I own one. I just haven’t found it in 2 years since I moved. So I bought a pin version figuring that when I find the other one then I’ll be able to do a comparason.

So to answer your question. I own a Wagner and it is suppose to check into the middle of a 1” board. It seemed to work fine. and I guess it was accurate because it gave values that I find on my pin version under similiar conditions.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2758 days


#17 posted 2703 days ago

That is good to know Karson. Another of those items for my want list.

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

34853 posts in 2997 days


#18 posted 2703 days ago

I developed a spreadsheet that calculate wood movement for 120+ species of wood. It is an Excel spreadsheet. You enter the anticipated low value you would expect in furniture use and the anticipated high value that you would expect.

You also enter the wood species number from an included chart (US Government Wood Movement chart) and the current moisture content.

Then you give it the wood width and it will calculate the min and max size for that piece of wood.

If you want to try it out and see what needs to be improved send me an e-mail with the current e-mail address and I’ll send it to you.

It works with Microsoft Excell and possable any other versions that read Excel files.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2758 days


#19 posted 2698 days ago

I received my inexpensive moisture meter. So far, the wood I have tested is reading less than 10%, which seems strange to me since I have only had it a few months. I will test some other pieces to see if I get different readings. Maybe find a branch to trim off a tree just to see…

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

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