Woodworking and the Importance of Moisture Content

Posted by Kett Marketing on Tue, Jul 31, 2018

hm530wcIf you are serious about woodworking, you know the importance of properly-dried wood. In order to be usable for a construction project, wood must be kiln or air-dried to a moisture level of 19%. But wood that is intended for indoor use— that is, wood intended to be used for woodworking— must have a moisture content level that is less than half that amount, at only 9%.

Why is this important? In everything you do, your overall finished product depends on precision, from how the wood is hand turned to the way it is joined together, and the amount of moisture in the product is no exception. With a craft that can be as hard to master and ever-changing as woodworking, knowing the moisture content of your wood can make a huge difference in your end results.

Humidity and Moisture

In some ways, wood is still “alive” even after it is harvested from the tree. With changing humidity and relative moisture in the air, wood is constantly expanding and contracting. It breathes. Even the manner in which a tree is cut affects the way wood moves. There is much to be said about having the correct moisture content of the wood you use with each project. In a perfect world, the wood would be stored in an environment similar to where your finished product will be used, so there is little expanding or contracting that happens after you finish your project.

Ideally, you would be able to work in a climate-controlled environment to ensure that the moisture and humidity of the room doesn’t get too high or drop too low to achieve this correct moisture content. Unfortunately, heating and cooling a workspace or ensuring moisture content by humidifying or dehumidifying the room is not just costly, but an imperfect science. Instead, it is simpler to ensure that you are using wood at the right moisture level by taking readings with an accurate moisture meter.

The Nature of Woodworking

In order to build furniture or lay floors that last for generations, each project is created with joinery that allows for “seasonal movement,” that is, for the wood to expand and contract with the weather. If you mill wood before it is properly dried or lay hardwood floors that have too high a moisture content, as soon as the weather or humidity shifts, the wood will contract and be too small; joints won’t fit properly, floorboards will shift or creak. Use wood that is too dry and you are subject to warping once the humidity spikes. Regularly checking moisture levels prevents either of these two extremes from happening.

If used at the incorrect time, a dresser made from wood with too much moisture can shrink from 24 inches across to 23.65 inches with only a 4% drop in relative humidity, losing ⅜ of an inch! As you can see, taking correct moisture readings is key to a successful finished product.

Your Moisture Meter

When working with wood, you want a reliable tool to measure the amount of moisture in the wood you are using. Kett offers instant wood moisture meters that are non-destructive, so there are no pin holes to mask, or calibrations to make. Using a Kett instant wood moisture meter is effortless and reliable; it can be adjusted so specifically that you can even select the species of tree the wood came from for the most accurate results. Take the guesswork out of the equation with a moisture meter you can trust.

If you are looking to achieve a new level of woodworking precision, perhaps it’s time to consider regular readings of the wood you are using with a moisture meter created specifically for wood. Check out our wood moisture meter here, to see how it can make a difference in your woodworking. From carpentry to wood turning to laying floors, having the right tools makes a huge difference in your finished product, and the right moisture meter is no exception.

Still have questions about moisture in the wood you’re using, or why it matters? Contact us today!

different methods for moisture measurement

Topics: Moisture Meter

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