Acclimating Stock---Help Please

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Forum topic by JasonZahn posted 12-19-2015 09:23 PM 834 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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56 posts in 1258 days

12-19-2015 09:23 PM

I’m hoping someone can give me a hand here. I’m getting ready to build a coffe table out of walnut and curly maple for a family member. I’ll be buying the lumber skip planed on a face and jointed on an edge, 4/4 mainly, but 12/4 walnut for the legs.

My shop is an attached garage that’s heated only when I’m working via a wall mounted shop heater.

Now I know the lumber should acclimate for a couple weeks, but if the final resting place of the piece is in a house (obviously), should I rough mill, then acclimate the lumber inside my house for a couple weeks, and then just store the parts in the house during the build process instead of storing in the garage, or does this really not matter?

I guess what I’m concerned with is the stock going from the sawmill yard to my shop, then sitting in my shop for a month as I pick through the project, and then all of a sudden the finished piece goes from 40 deg garage directly into 71 degree house with differential humidity levels.

Hopefully I am over thinking all of this, and I can just bring it from the mill yard to my garage shop, rest it, mill it oversize again closer to true dimensions, let it rest again (especially the 12/4) and then do a final milling and go about building the table.

Sorry for rambling, I’m just trying to make sense of this and do it the right way.


10 replies so far

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1028 posts in 1575 days

#1 posted 12-19-2015 10:05 PM

Are you turning the legs?if so I would rough it out then let it sit,some say in a garbage bag with the saw dust for awhile.That gives it a chance to do it’s thing. same with boards.

View JasonZahn's profile


56 posts in 1258 days

#2 posted 12-19-2015 10:56 PM

No, tapered legs actually.

View johnstoneb's profile


2915 posts in 2173 days

#3 posted 12-19-2015 10:57 PM

Be nice to know where your at. I live in a low humidity area. I dno’t worry about acclimation. The yard I get my lumber from has it inside in an unheated area. It come to my shop which is heated when I am in it. It may sit in the shop a few days before I start milling and it may not. I have no problem with movement. 30% humidity is considered high here.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View AandCstyle's profile


3052 posts in 2257 days

#4 posted 12-19-2015 11:01 PM

Jason, the issue is the relative humidity of the wood in the various locations. A house at 72 degrees and a shop at 40 degrees can both have the same relative humidity, it depends where you live and your heating system. I have a couple thermometers that have a cheap humidistat included. They are close enough because the finish you apply will slow down the change in moisture content of the wood. This means that when you take the coffee table from the shop to the LR, it will gradually expand or contract to the relative humidity in the house and if you avoided wood working no-no’s like cross grain joints, you should be fine. HTH

-- Art

View pintodeluxe's profile


5663 posts in 2814 days

#5 posted 12-19-2015 11:25 PM

Get a good moisture meter and determine if the lumber is dry. 6-8% is a typical range for kiln dried lumber. If your lumber is 15% moisture content, it will move and warp when it is brought inside. If it’s not dry, you need to kiln dry it so the project will be stable. Normal seasonal movement is relatively small, and a good design will allow tabletops to move. However lumber will move significantly as it dries from green, to air dried, to kiln dried. It is important that the change happens before your lumber is jointed and planed.

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

View JasonZahn's profile


56 posts in 1258 days

#6 posted 12-20-2015 12:13 AM

Sorry all, I should’ve specified more details.

I’m in Maryland, and the lumber is from Maryland. It’s kiln dried lumber.

The table, when finished, will be going to Savannah, Georgia, so higher in humidity than my house.

I suppose that if its kiln dried stock, I’d be ok going ahead with it, then maybe acclimating the finished table to my house for a while before it goes to Georgia?

Or maybe with kiln dried lumber even that is overkill??

View ThomasChippendale's profile


244 posts in 933 days

#7 posted 12-20-2015 03:00 AM

I never cared about acclimating wood (48 years woodworking) . In the North-east wood is dried to 6% moisture and outdoor relative humidity is around 60% average so wood in the yard is stored in sheds. Once you get your wood in the workshop, it is not that different and you can use it right away. Well conceived furniture will allow for wood movement between winter and summer. The acclimating is indoors once the furniture is in use between the seasons but you cannot plan for that in the shop. Furniture built in the winter will expand in the summer and vise-versa.

In Savanah, they will have a lot of air conditioning (dehumidifying) so how can you tell what atmospheric condition the wood will be in ? Good practices, allowance for expansion/contraction in the design and quality dried lumber are your allies.

BTW my workshop has always been an unheated garage attached or separate from the house, a bit of heating when I need glueing or finishing, tonight it will be -9C and the shop will drop to 5 degrees, later this winter it will be -30 sometimes, the shop will drop to zero and the wood will not bother.

-- PJ

View rwe2156's profile


2926 posts in 1481 days

#8 posted 12-20-2015 12:16 PM

I think you do have to be concerned about acclimating wood in the milling process. No matter what the moisture content, it can be alot different once you start opening wood up, particularly something like resawing.

I think the biggest thing to be aware of is once you start milling the wood, a fluctuating humidity level in the shop, or inadequate ventilation can give you problems (not to mention stresses in the wood).

If I’m concerned about it, I tend to keep the wood in a stable environment as possible, such as wrapping in plastic or moving the wood inside the house. I like the idea of using wood shavings I’ll have to try that.

When the wood goes to Savannah, if its in an air conditioned house there probably won’t be too many issues.

It all depends on where the wood is starting out moisture-wise, how wide the boards are, etc.

I would definitely wrap the table in plastic for shipping.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View ThomasChippendale's profile


244 posts in 933 days

#9 posted 12-20-2015 08:29 PM

Acclimating wood was not even a concept when I worked in the industry, we processed 1,000,000 bd ft/ year of hard maple and the wood would come in frozen, wet from the yard or warm from the kilns. As long as it was below 8% moisture, it ran through the factories without a hitch into fine solid wood furniture.

-- PJ

View JasonZahn's profile


56 posts in 1258 days

#10 posted 12-21-2015 11:57 AM

Thanks all for the advice and recommendations.

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