Wet wood / rocker question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by bues0022 posted 04-06-2011 09:04 PM 1196 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View bues0022's profile


249 posts in 3155 days

04-06-2011 09:04 PM

This chair I’m building has been nothing but problems so far. Anyway, I just picked up my wood (walnut) from a local sawmill for the front/back legs and armrests on Monday. It’s a full 2 3/8 thick, so I have some planing down to do. Even still, I rough cut out my blanks last night, and was concerned at some points because my bandsaw was cutting terribly slow. I eventually figured it out – wet wood. I saw him test it, and it came out at 8%, but due to the thickness the center is obviously damp. I don’t have a way to actually measure the real moisture level though.

So, now what do I do? I already have the blanks cut out. I called the guy back, he apologized, but did some searching for me and thought I’d be find if I just go ahead and use it. I’m obviously nervous that it’ll warp and twist on me during machining/drying – or worse – after the chair is done it could split in half! I could have a friend put it in an over at 140 degrees for a few days to dry it out, but would I risk the wood cracking/checking from drying too fast?

I’m under a time crunch, so I don’t have too much time to wait it out – so now what? Is there anything I can do? Can I use it like it is and be fine? Thoughts?

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

6 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2846 days

#1 posted 04-06-2011 10:40 PM

Ryan, I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but I see only downstream grief if you use that material. A beautiful chair with untrue rockers just won’t get sat on.

Now are these solid or glueups?

If they are bent laminations, or are destined to be, the moisture isn’t a problem—in fact a virtue—in that the wood will bend a little easier and you can use polyurethane glue which likes the humidity.

Shall we go a little farther down this road?



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2953 days

#2 posted 04-06-2011 10:47 PM

I wouldn’t recommend using that or any wood for such a project when it is so wet; it would be much better to set it aside and go get some truly dry wood to work with. Walnut is a friendly wood, it may be fine to try to hurry it in the oven; the worst it will do is warp or crack, meaning you need to go get dry wood. 140 is really hot, it would likely deviate too far for use in your current project. But really, I think you probably know all this, so it’s all about just upping and doing it. Sorry I couldn’t come up with a better suggestion.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View bues0022's profile


249 posts in 3155 days

#3 posted 04-06-2011 10:57 PM

This wood is destined to be the front legs, back legs, and arm rests. Unfortunately, I’ve already cut the rough-cut blanks, so if I just set the wood aside and go get something different I’m not only out the money for the wood, but I’ve cut it to be unusable for anything else now.

Deep down I know it’s not a great idea to use the wood. I know it’ll probably just cause me grief – but seeing as how this chair is going it’s just par for the course :)

I don’t really have access to anything inbetween room temp and 140 (if I were to try to dry it). Maybe I’ll see about making a little tent with a small space heater in it?? I’m just grasping at straws now to see if anything will save this….

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

View JL7's profile


8661 posts in 2960 days

#4 posted 04-06-2011 11:47 PM

Ryan – I have a moisture meter if you want to stop by and measure your cut blanks. It sounds like you really don’t know for sure what the moisture level is…......let me know. We can test against material I know is dry.


-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View bues0022's profile


249 posts in 3155 days

#5 posted 04-07-2011 12:25 AM

Jeff- That would be great. Thanks!

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

View bues0022's profile


249 posts in 3155 days

#6 posted 04-07-2011 03:54 PM

I went over to Jeff’s house last night and checked my wood on his moisture meter: bad news. The wood was so wet it would just continue to error out his meter (over range). We couldn’t get any other piece of wood in his shop to do this, and the only other time he’s seen this happed was with wood that he knew was soaked. My gut was right, this stuff is wet.

We discussed the options presented on here, and I think this is my plan moving forward: I’m going to attempt to salvage the wood. It’s nice stuff, pretty grain, and I don’t want to just let it sit around for nothing (unless I plan on building another small, walnut chair – likely not). I’m going to build a little tent with some plastic, and put a dehumidifier in it. The wood will be clamped to a router-fixture I used to plane some wood flat. I’ll put it all in the tent and wait a few weeks before measuring moisture again. The moisture from the dehumidifier will be piped out with a hose so no excess moisture is sitting in there. The “exhaust” from the dehumidifier will provide the necessary heat to help it dry. The heat will be gentle, and higher than room temp, but lower than my other option – 140 which would likely mess up the wood. We’ll see how it all goes.

Not much else I can do now on my chair but wait. I have to carve the seat, and build a crosscut sled/jig for the headrest. I guess I’ll tinker on that. My timeline is shot on the chair anyway, might as well not rush the results :(

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics