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Kiln Dried VS Air Dried

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Forum topic by bbc557ci posted 01-21-2013 04:12 PM 1403 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bbc557ci

543 posts in 761 days


01-21-2013 04:12 PM

Hello everyone. I sometimes have the opportunity to pick up air dried rough cut hardwood lumber at decent prices. I read in another post here that if air dried, it should be about 1 year air dried per inch of thickness.

Now, I was told by a friend that, for inside trim and furniture building, the lumber must be kild dried. Of course I can see the advantages of kiln dried. But, my thought/question is, if I have some ash, poplar, oak, whatever, and the ambient humidity outside or inside the house is say 50%, won’t the kiln dried lumer eventually take on about the same humidity level? I have a cherry table that I built about 20 years ago, and the top expands and contracts during changes in humidity. I live in central NY so inside the house the air is dryer in the winter due to the forced air heat. And in the summer it can get very humid.

Any thoughts and or guidance on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks – Bill

-- Bill, central NY...no where near the "big apple"


18 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

15228 posts in 1254 days


#1 posted 01-21-2013 04:41 PM

All wood takes on the content from its surrounding. It’s my opinion your friend is wrong.

I live just outside of Albany NY and I’ve been using air dried lumber forever. (yes I’m about that old) There are advantages to kiln drying (as you said you know) but air dried lumber can be used for anything kiln dried lumber can.

Now with that said, there are places where building code requires kiln dried lumber for certain applications, but I believe that’s just framing, but its been a while, so don’t quote me on that.

If you look through most of my projects, I’d bet 90% of them are from air dried lumber.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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Dusty56

11663 posts in 2375 days


#2 posted 01-21-2013 05:01 PM

I’m in Western MA and haven’t had any issues using air dried inside the house.
Of course , after air drying , I allow the wood to acclimate to my shop (basement) for a few weeks to stabilize the MC before using it. I do the same with kiln dried…... Wood moves and we can’t stop it.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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bbc557ci

543 posts in 761 days


#3 posted 01-21-2013 05:13 PM

Those are my thoughts as well. I had a small’ish construction biz for 25+ years and much if not most of what we did was finish carpentry related. I never used “air dried” on the jobs, as I needed to (and of course wanted to) guarantee out end product. And on my own home projects I didn’t go with aire dried because I was not sure what the outcome would be. Might give it a go now though!!

Thanks for the input!!

-- Bill, central NY...no where near the "big apple"

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Dusty56

11663 posts in 2375 days


#4 posted 01-21-2013 05:17 PM

Whether air or kiln dried , 8% MC is still 8% MC : ) JMHO

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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Don W

15228 posts in 1254 days


#5 posted 01-21-2013 05:26 PM

I’ve got a moister meter you can get a Lowes or amazon. I think they are like $39. They go on sale once in a while for $29. Pick one up, they are handy whether its air dried or kiln dried.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Arminius's profile

Arminius

304 posts in 2490 days


#6 posted 01-21-2013 05:33 PM

For a lot of furniture applications, air-dried is better than kiln-dried. Kiln-dried is cheaper, because air-dried is indeed on the order of 1 year per inch of thickness, with all the costs involved. But air dried wood works better and is more consistent. At high temperatures, the lignin in the wood alters characteristics, and the wood becomes more brittle, often hardening at the exposed surfaces. The most obvious way to see this is try steam-bending kiln-dried wood versus air-dried, but even working with a chisel on two opposing samples of the same species will be pretty revealing.

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bbc557ci

543 posts in 761 days


#7 posted 01-21-2013 06:46 PM

I’ve got a moister meter you can get a Lowes or amazon. I think they are like $39. They go on sale once in a while for $29. Pick one up, they are handy whether its air dried or kiln dried.

I’ll pick a MM up Don W….I should have one. Used to have one, but it got gone some how, several years ago.

Thanks again for the replies everyone it’s appreciated.

Bill

-- Bill, central NY...no where near the "big apple"

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MonteCristo

2097 posts in 875 days


#8 posted 01-21-2013 07:38 PM

I prefer air dried lumber because a kiln can screw up the wood and add a whole lot of built-in stress if the drying cycle is not right.

Also, some kilns mess with the lumber; eg some steam walnut to color the sapwood. Bad idea as you just get dull colored sapwood.

Don’t take the 1”/year thing as gospel. It’s just a very rough rule of thumb. Either get a good moisture meter or weigh a typical piece every week or whatever until it stops losing weight.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

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bondogaposis

2590 posts in 1038 days


#9 posted 01-21-2013 09:16 PM

I prefer air dried lumber if it is truly dry. I think it finishes better and to me looks more “alive” than kiln dried. However I’m lucky that I live in an arid climate and lumber truly dries out out here over the course of a year or more. A moisture meter will be your friend here. Bring it inside during the winter for a while to let it adjust.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View crank49's profile

crank49

3456 posts in 1658 days


#10 posted 01-21-2013 09:51 PM

Kiln dried will only contain dead bugs or eggs where air dried may contain live bugs or eggs.
Otherwise, I like air dried.

And, some folks think a few worm holes just add character.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

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Dusty56

11663 posts in 2375 days


#11 posted 01-21-2013 09:53 PM

That’s a good point , Michael : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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bbc557ci

543 posts in 761 days


#12 posted 01-22-2013 01:29 AM

I agree crank49, few worm holes can and often does add character to wood. I recently picked up a few hundred BF of ash for trim work at my place, kiln dried, and there is one board that the critters definatly got to before it entered the kiln, which is fine with me!!

Thanks again for all the replies. This opens up new horizons for me :o)

btw…. just saw I spelled kiln “kild”. Not quite sure how the heck I did that. Never could spell too well LOL.

Bill

-- Bill, central NY...no where near the "big apple"

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Dusty56

11663 posts in 2375 days


#13 posted 01-22-2013 03:38 AM

You can go back and edit your title and post at any time , just not the comments here : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View SteviePete's profile

SteviePete

224 posts in 1990 days


#14 posted 01-22-2013 03:50 AM

Rule of thumbs for drying wood completely miss the physical actions going on before and after its cut. Get Hoadleys book—be careful- he has so many facts you’ll come off as a smarty pants. Best wood book I own.

As for me—I carve and like air dry or green wood. Plastic bags, sawdust, etc. Long winters give you a break. If you like what hoadley says you may be getting a meter or look for more rules of thumb that consider ambient RH, starting moisture in wood, wind speed, air temp and species.

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

3032 posts in 1174 days


#15 posted 01-22-2013 04:17 AM

Our house leaks air.
My shop is a separate section from the house but served by the same HVAC.
Our house is old and compromised and even in the winter in Texas we seldom get to 15% RH in the house.

So that’s what I air dry my wood to. Not just on the outside, I will cut a piece and see what it reads with the moisture meter on the inner parts.

As for bugs and other critters, I usually put the pieces that are under 24” in my oven @ 150-170°F for an hour.

Larger pieces require the heat box with some infrared lamps. We use to call it a bathroom, but it changed a bit over the decades.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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