How long do I have to wait?

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Forum topic by Broglea posted 03-05-2010 11:05 PM 3657 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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687 posts in 3635 days

03-05-2010 11:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut maple

Hi everyone. Simple question here. I just picked up some 4/4 walnut and maple. How long do I need to let it sit in my shop to acclimate until I can start working with it?

I can’t wait to get started on my project, but I don’t want mess it up from the very beginning.

16 replies so far

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4454 days

#1 posted 03-05-2010 11:16 PM

Broglea, that is a difficult question to answer without knowing the woods moisture content and your local relative humidity. Is the 4/4 rough sawn? If it is, you may want to skip plane both surfaces and then put a moisture meter on it.


-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View Broglea's profile


687 posts in 3635 days

#2 posted 03-05-2010 11:54 PM

Bruce – it was kiln dried to 6%-8% and it is rough sawn.

Is there a simple rule of thumb I should go by? I don’t have a moisture meter. Do I really need to get one?

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 4466 days

#3 posted 03-06-2010 12:14 AM

I bring my kiln dried 4/4 lumber in from an out building about 2 weeks ahead of time and sticker it 18 inches wide. it goes from 12% down to around 8 in that time. mike

-- mike & judy western md. www. [email protected]

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4306 days

#4 posted 03-06-2010 12:48 AM

In “Woodworking Wisdom”, author Nick Engler says,”Both air-dried and kiln-dried wood must be shop-dried for a week or more in your workshop. This lets the moisture content reach equilibrium with the relative humidity in the shop, and prevents the wood from expanding and contracting overmuch as it’s worked.”

Last summer I ignored this advice, and ended up with boards that warped after being planed, jointed, and glued. I thought that during the summertime, the wood stored in my loft was subject to the same environmental conditions as in the shop below. I was wrong.

I suspect that if you move wood into a heated or air conditioned shop it might be a good idea to wait at least two weeks before using the wood.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View DuaneEDMD's profile


115 posts in 3897 days

#5 posted 03-06-2010 01:32 AM

I might as well add my two cents for what it’s worth. I buy my lumber rough sawn and let it sit for a week in my shop. Then I joint and plane it to it’s clear on both sides (so 4/4 rough sawn becomes anywhere from 1” to 7/8”) and let it sit a day or two so and see what happens. If it doesn’t move much than I take it down to final size. If it has moved and re-joint it and plane again and let it sit again. I slowly sneak up on the final size. It works for me, hope it does for you too.

-- --It's not how long you live, but how you live that makes it a life.--

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4454 days

#6 posted 03-06-2010 02:01 AM

Sounds like good advice. Dont worry about the moisture meter if you don’t have one. Just let the wood sit and acclimate in your shop for a week or two, the slowly thickness it to its final dimensions. By the way, I recommend leaving all of your stock in your shop as you build the project. If you take pieces into the house as you mill them and the temperature and humidity are different, you will have problems when you do your final assembly. Some of the wood will be dryiner than the others.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View Broglea's profile


687 posts in 3635 days

#7 posted 03-06-2010 02:03 AM

Thanks for all the input so far. It looks like I’ll be staring at this wood for a week or two.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 4331 days

#8 posted 03-06-2010 02:11 AM

Ditto on DuaneEDMD’s post. That is pretty much the same thing I do, and so far it has worked well for me. However, the thicker the initial lumber, the more time it takes to acclimate.

If resawing boards, I have had best luck resawing them and then lightly surface planing both sides. Then let sit a day or two. If they immediately bow, let them sit longer, as they will usually equalize and return much closer to straight. Stickering with some weight on top will also help in this situation.


-- Go

View a1Jim's profile


117747 posts in 4122 days

#9 posted 03-06-2010 02:12 AM

It helps to let it stabilize to your shops humidity and temperature the week time period but also after rough cutting your stock to make sure it’s not going to move a lot after making your project.

View Ingjr's profile


144 posts in 3561 days

#10 posted 03-06-2010 02:17 AM

One week, preferably two is what I aim for. HTH.

-- The older I get the faster I was.

View Ed's profile


19 posts in 3657 days

#11 posted 03-06-2010 03:23 AM

There are three variables you need to consider: 1) The original moisture content of the wood, 2) The Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) of your shop, and 3) The EMC of the place where your project will finally reside.

If all three are the same, you don’t need to wait at all. The wood won’t shrink or swell, because it won’t be gaining or losing water as it moves from one environment to the other.

It won’t do you much good to acclimate the wood to your shop’s EMC if your house is different. If the wood is already at 6 to 8% moisture content (which is typical for inside a house), then it would be better to work it quickly and get it into the house as soon as possible. That way, it won’t gain (or lose) moisture as it sits in the shop.

-- Ed

View wisno's profile


88 posts in 3556 days

#12 posted 03-06-2010 10:42 AM

You need to check the average humidity of the air in your place.
If the moisture content of your wood is already in the balance with the humidity of the air in your place, then you can do start to work with your wood.
You can view the graph wood moisture content vs the environment humidity

Good luck



View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4306 days

#13 posted 03-06-2010 03:56 PM


I’m not sure about this graph. It would appear to me that you would need a graph for each degree of air temperature. There is a tremendous amount of difference between the quantity of moisture in the air at different temperatures, even though the relative humidity is the same.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4550 days

#14 posted 03-06-2010 04:27 PM

Go ahead and rough cut to widths and lengths. Give you something to do and speed up the wood moving all its going to move. Unless we’re talking really unusual conditions you’re working in, i’d give it a day or so and get to work.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4025 days

#15 posted 03-06-2010 09:26 PM

I vote for one to two weeks also.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

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