|Forum topic by Mark A. DeCou||posted 01-12-2007 06:49 PM||8678 views||0 times favorited||19 replies|
01-12-2007 06:49 PM
I don’t have time to do this topic full justice this morning, but I was going through receipts getting ready for taxes, and I found my receipt for the wood pin moisture meter I bought in 2006.
This was my first attempt at reading moisture in wood, but since I was self drying 2” thick white oak in a home built dehumidifcation drying system this summer, I wanted to know the results of the drying process.
I have hopes of writing up the self-drying procedures as a full article, so maybe I can get back to that at some point. Too many ideas to write up, too little time for unpaid manhours, if you know what I mean.
I will give more information on this topic in the coming days, but I wanted to state as soon as I thought of it that I purchased a Harbor Freight 2-Pin Moisture Meter, item number 2757-2VGA for $19.99, and another $7.99 for shipping.
This made it quite a bit less expensive than other brand names, and since I don’t run a flush-with-cash operation here, I went with “cheaper.” I have had a lot of fun using it, checking on moisture content before I do any work nowadays.
I have to be sort of careful with the meter, as it isn’t built for hard use, as I am sure other brands are more suited for. But, for the $27.98 I have invested in it, I am happy with it.
In just a couple of seconds, I can insert the two pins, hit the “red” button and read where the light is located. I take several measurements to confirm the reading, and find some interesting results depending on where I read the moisture, but whenever I come back to a spot I have already checked, the reading is always the same, meaning that it is consistent and repeatable, and that works for me.
To do joinery in wood that has more than a 10% moisture content is just “ripe” with trouble, as mortises and tenons will shrink more as they continue to dry more over time.
So, to avoid the possibility of irrate customer calls, and embarrasing explainations of what went wrong, I try really hard to make my joinery last. I keep the tolerances of the joints perfectly snug when the joint is new, using the right glues, and pegging tenons with either screws, nails, wood dowels, or square wood pegs (my preference for appearance).
However, none of this diligence will help a joint where the wood drying process continues on after the piece has been delivered, and a tenon gets loose. This has not happened to me yet, but I am diligent to avoid it happening if I can help it. The Moisture Meter helps give me confidence in my process and the materials I am using.
I use the Moisture Meter to check the dryness of my wood before doing any critical operations (i.e. squaring all sides of a board, or starting joinery). If it is too wet, back in the dehumification chamber, and a few days, or weeks later, I try again.
I prefer to see it drop down in the 7-9% range, as I don’t seem to have any trouble with additional cupping, bowing, twisting, or shrinkage of parts after they are completed at that moisture range. However, I have tried to work with 12%, 16%, 20%, 24%, and 30% moisture content on scrap parts in white oak just to experiment with what would happen. The results were unsatisfactory until I used wood below 10% moisture.
I think for low-budget lumberjocks that are playing around with air-dried wood, or buying wood from suppliers that don’t confirm the moisture content with you before your purchase, this little $30 dollar tool will be of some help and value to them.
It is also fun to use. Oh, yea, there is another item of the “you must be a lumberjock list….”
More later as I promised, back to the receipt stack. I’m sure there are many of you that have moisture meters, or have wondered about getting one, so I decided to get this started now, as it will be helpful to the rest of the group.
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com