Thoughts on acclimatizing wood?

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Forum topic by Brian posted 01-16-2010 01:48 PM 1844 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brian's profile


79 posts in 3132 days

01-16-2010 01:48 PM

Interested in your thoughts on acclimatizing wood in the shop.
Up here in Montreal wood is stored outside in covered or protected warehouses. Not all are heated and these days it’s cold, damp and humid.
These are just questions I can think of offhand…

Do you acclimatize wood before staring a project?
How important do you think it is?
Ever paid the price for NOT acclimatizing the wood before starting?
How long do you acclimatize wood for?
Does it depend on the wood species?
Would a moisture meter help?
Even if you do acclimatize the wood and build the project, wouldn’t there be changes to the wood once moved into a warm dry house?
Some lumber must sometimes be unsold for months or even years so if it’s been kiln dried hasn’t the moisture content been increased to the point where it’s more or less at the level of air-dried?

TIA for any and all replies


4 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


7146 posts in 2796 days

#1 posted 01-16-2010 02:26 PM

How important it is really depends on the particular wood….some are more prone to movement than others, and some of that is based on the moisture content. I try to acclimate the wood whenever possible….usually for a week or so. There have even been times when I predimensioned wood oversized, then let it acclimate some more for another day or two before going on to the final dimensions (ie: red elm)

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View bandman's profile


79 posts in 2811 days

#2 posted 01-16-2010 06:59 PM

I’m located in the midwest in Wisconsin. Air dried lumber reaches about 16 to 18 percent
moisture content as it dries in the natural environment. With the lumber from my mill I
typically use an ebac 3000 dehumidification kiln to dry it down to 6 to 8 percent lumber
content. In the days before there were kilns, woodworkers would air dry their lumber,
then take the material into a warm and dry wood heater shop and let it continue to
dry down prior to using it. Air dried lumber as its taken into a heated shop to use will
come down to 6-8 percent moisture content over a period of time depending on the
relative humidity of the environment. The end enviroment of the piece you are building
will dictate how dry the lumber should be before starting, taking into account the season
variations of moisture where you’re located. A moisture meter can help significantly in
evaluating how dry your material is, but there are ways to asses moisture in lumber using an
oven drying method based on weight. Things that I’ve observed in projects using air dried
lumber placed into a heated enviroment include noticeable shrinkage of and cracking of
the wood. Kiln dried lumber does regain moisture over time, depending on the conditions
and humidity its stored in, If its stored outside, it will go back up to slightly below where it
was when it was air dried. Different wood species do behave quite differently, for instance
walnut is a softer wood that’s fairly easy to dry, where hard maple and white oak require a
more extended drying time to achieve the same results. Some folks prefer working with
completely air dried lumber, and account for the shrinkage and movement of the wood
in their work based on the end enviroment for the project.

Just my experiences, hope this helps.

-- Phil

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 2946 days

#3 posted 01-17-2010 03:07 AM

I use lumber that is air dried and kiln dried. The lumber sits in my shop and ends up all being around the same mc. The secret is to rough out the boards then stack and sticker them in the house for around a week to let it acclimate.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


234 posts in 3342 days

#4 posted 01-17-2010 04:20 AM

1 yes
2 very
3 yes
4 2 weeks stack it in the shop on stickers 18 in. deep
5 probably , never ran into any problems though
6 yes
7 yes ,but it all starts about the same moisture content
8 right, Lumber starts acclimating as soon as it comes out of the kiln, and that usually means it starts taking on moisture. I dry my lumber to 6 – 7 % and stress relieve it. I skip plane it to 1in thick and dead stack it in covered buildings. I actually prefer it to sit for at least a year.I have some thats been KD for over 10 years. It is usually around 12 to 14% when I bring it to the shop. Within 2 weeks its down to around 8%, which is my target moisture percentage. I also prefer to air dry at least 3 years before putting it in the kiln. Doesn’t always happen but I have 4 – 5000 bd ft of curly cherry thats been on stick for at least 5 years. Personally I like my lumber to go through as many seasonal changes as I can, I think it makes more stable lumber. Just my opinion

-- mike & judy western md. www.

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