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Spalted maple moisture

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Blog entry by Brodan posted 04-30-2021 02:47 AM 1271 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After cutting up the spalted maple and much advice from other lumberjocks, I purchased a moisture meter and tested a few pieces. This piece had been sitting on my desk And tested 8.5%

The rest of the wood stacked outside my shop under a tarp.

Checked several different sized pieces.

Even the wood stored outside “seems” pretty dry. It has been in the 80s for 3 days which I’d say has helped reduce moisture.I’ve read about moisture reaching equilibrium. My question is, with cooler days should I be concerned about moisture in the wood stored outside covered, increasing.

I plan on building a keepsake box soon for a new addition to the wife’s family and I think the wood is dry enough. Thoughts ?

-- Dan, TN



5 comments so far

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

3647 posts in 4796 days


#1 posted 04-30-2021 05:28 AM

Dan,

If wood dries too quickly, you can have a bigger problem with splitting and twisting. A rule of thumb for air-drying lumber is it usually takes about a year per inch of thickness. (That has even been true for the dead wood we’ve milled.) After you resaw your pieces, you might need to allow it to dry further. When you do, make certain that you have plenty of weight on it to prevent twisting/warping while drying.

We’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years in sawing and drying our own lumber. We considered building a kiln but after a great deal of research, we realized it was more technical that we wanted to attempt. Kiln drying can be harder to control rapid moisture loss.

We’ve found that how the lumber is stacked makes a great deal of difference in the final product. Of course, if you make smaller projects (like boxes), twisting/warping isn’t as crucial since you can always get enough straight inches. But for larger projects, even a little twisting can make for a lot of lost lumber and even more frustration.

That said, your maple looks like some of the prettiest spalting I’ve seen. It is hard to find that much spalting without losing a lot to rot. Your boxes will be beautiful.

L/W

-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Brodan's profile

Brodan

268 posts in 2386 days


#2 posted 04-30-2021 11:58 AM

Thanks LW.

I suppose since the logs were stacked loosely for over 18 months before I cut them,they lost most of the initial moisture? I know that logs requiring two of us to lift when the tree was cut down , I easily handled myself after the 18 months.

Still, based on your experience it sounds like I need to let the wood set and “stabilize” for another year.

Thanks for you insight!

Dan

-- Dan, TN

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

3647 posts in 4796 days


#3 posted 04-30-2021 05:01 PM

Dan,

If I had that beautiful wood, I would probably resaw it now into 1” thickness (or the thickness at which you plan to use it) so that it could dry more uniformly. It might be dry enough to stack inside. Just make sure it has good air circulation through the stack and that you sticker evenly (place stickers in alignment bottom to top), and put plenty of weight on the top of the stack. If you stack it outside, tarp the top but make certain the sides are open for air circulation.

Here are articles by Popular Woodworking and Wood Magazine that give some information on air drying lumber.

Getting accurate moisture readings can be tricky too. I’m not certain if there is a difference in moisture in the more densely spalted areas. If your lumber is thick, it’s pretty difficult to get an accurate reading since the points of the meter are relatively short and you can’t measure the moisture in the center of the lumber (no matter how deep you drill your testing holes). The closer to the surface, the drier the measurement will be which could be misleading.

We brought a stack inside too early (it was dead wood that had been down for years) and we had an awful mess with the excess humidity. (There was too much wood—and too much work—to restack it again outside so we used a dehumidifier. I wouldn’t suggest that approach to anyone.)

Wishing you success!

L/W

-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Steve's profile

Steve

2494 posts in 1666 days


#4 posted 04-30-2021 05:32 PM

I would bring in the pieces that you want to use into your shop to acclimate for a week or two.

Then rough cut them to size and let them rest another week or so. Then start milling them to final dimensions.

You’re not too far off at 12%

View Brodan's profile

Brodan

268 posts in 2386 days


#5 posted 05-01-2021 11:31 AM

Thanks. Although almost all pieces are under 25” long Some are quite thick , up to 5” so I will resaw and stack inside .

LW, thanks for the reads .

-- Dan, TN

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