Walnut questions

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Forum topic by RandyMarine posted 07-28-2010 04:03 PM 2277 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RandyMarine's profile


236 posts in 4702 days

07-28-2010 04:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut question

Hello all,

As some of you know, I took down some trees in my yard 2 months ago…milled them up and stored them in my shed to dry. (

Now, the lumber was cut down on 06/09/10, milled and stacked on 07/02/10. When I stacked it, I didn’t have a Moisture meter to know what the MC was in the beginning. So, yesterday I was in Lowe’s and saw a General MM for 30 bucks…Well, that sounded a whole lot bettter than the 130 bucks for a better model I saw in the local industrial store. I brought it home and went straight to the shed to give my MM a shot. What I found was that the Walnut had a MC of 9.6% at the top of the stack to 13.4% toward the bottom. This makes sense to me with water going down with gravity, but what doesn’t is it seems like it dried way to fast… This is all 5/4 stock and it has been like 95 degrees for 3 weeks straight. The shed the lumber is in has a shingled roof and get direct sun all day. The shed can easily get up to 120-125 F.

Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Does this even seem posible? Should I go get the 130 dollar MM?

I am lost and don’t want to screw up my lumber score…Thanks for reading and am looking forward to all of your knowledge!

-- Semper Fi, Randy Sr.

28 replies so far

View lew's profile


13486 posts in 5088 days

#1 posted 07-28-2010 04:21 PM

I’m not expert but that does seem a little fast. Have you tried making a reading on wood that you know is really dry, just to get a comparison?

I remember reading somewhere that wood takes about a year per inch of thickness to air dry. I don’t think that takes into consideration the temperatures that you mentioned, however

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 5238 days

#2 posted 07-28-2010 04:31 PM

I would say your meter is reading off, or you are not sticking the pins in far enough (common mistake). Walnut will air dry to 10% in a hot shed like you describe quite easily in a couple months though. Assuming your RH (relative humidity) is low where you live.

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 4288 days

#3 posted 07-28-2010 04:32 PM

your shed is acting like a kiln.

View RandyMarine's profile


236 posts in 4702 days

#4 posted 07-28-2010 04:40 PM

Thanks for reading guys…

Lew..I did a comparison on some store bought wood and that was reading about I figured the meter is right on..

Daren…I read the same, as well as the issues with drying to fast, that’s why I got nervous…How far in should I stick the pins?

Uff… Is this a good thing, or will it cause me issues later?

Thanks again

-- Semper Fi, Randy Sr.

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 4477 days

#5 posted 07-28-2010 04:55 PM

You’re effectively using a solar kiln, one upgrade option to help would be to install a temporary or permanent air mover to help equalize the moisture on the bottom of the stack.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4636 days

#6 posted 07-28-2010 05:12 PM

your going to have some fluctuating readings with your your seeing…you should assume that you need to wait about a year before you should plan to use any of it…if its 8/4…Ive always found the 1 year per inch works pretty well…its safe to just wait till then…i assume you have sticked it well and have good ventilation all around…its good if you can…it will dry more consistent, im sure you know that as a good general rule…you get what you pay for….if you going to mill much lumber throughout your life..i would invest in a good meter…or if you know another wood worker who has one…maybe they can come over and check your lumber…good luck with it all…i ran out of my walnut and now have another nice tree spotted and will cut it down in a few weeks…its one of my favorites…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 4291 days

#7 posted 07-28-2010 05:33 PM

My brother used some Black walnut I sawed up for him too early, and when he cut it he had problems with it warping right off the saw. The outside had dried much faster than the center could keep up; the wetter wood in the center caused stress within the dryer outside edges. Wood will only move moisture so fast, and the outside dries too fast under conditions like you have mentioned. He ended up successfully weighting down the center of the boards and letting them dry further. The inch per year standard is a good idea, but not really necessary for a lot of woods. The denser the wood, the longer it needs to dry correctly; walnut is pretty dense. The fact that it is also green wood would suggest giving it a little more time to cure out would be a good idea; I would recommend giving it at least 6 months no matter what the mm says.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View RandyMarine's profile


236 posts in 4702 days

#8 posted 07-28-2010 05:42 PM

Great info…

I had no intentions of using this lumber until the spring…when i will start making my kitchen cabinets..

I just wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to go nuts on me…

-- Semper Fi, Randy Sr.

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 4795 days

#9 posted 07-28-2010 05:48 PM

Are you getting any warping, twisting or cracking?

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their [email protected]

View RandyMarine's profile


236 posts in 4702 days

#10 posted 07-28-2010 05:50 PM

Medic…I am getting all of the above…but was told by another woodworker pro up the street that it was typical for air drying.

-- Semper Fi, Randy Sr.

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 5502 days

#11 posted 07-28-2010 06:03 PM

When I air dry wood, i drill small holes so that I can measure the moisture in the center of the wood. Big difference there as opposed to the outside.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4636 days

#12 posted 07-28-2010 06:03 PM

im assuming you sealed all the ends of your boards…i hope you did..if not..there is part of your problem, when i have wood milled, i keep it in a shaded area, and i stick it every 2 and a half feet…and of coarse then keep it covered…if its exposed to to much heat..i think your going to have more of the twisting and warping…i didn’t have any splitting…well i hope it all turns out ok…maybe some of the idea’s here will help…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

454 posts in 4338 days

#13 posted 07-28-2010 07:30 PM

Another way to gauge MC is to weigh a small piece of the wood and then dry it in a warm oven for several hours then weigh it again. The difference in the weight would be the moisture that was removed. You can calculate the moixture content.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View Sawmillnc's profile


150 posts in 4387 days

#14 posted 07-30-2010 04:12 AM

I dry walnut 4/4 and 5/4 to 7% MC in 24 days in my kiln. If this was covered and in an area with low RH and high daytime temps it wouldn’t be out of the question to be in the range of 15-20% MC but not at 9.6 without degrade.That is more than likely the outside and not the core, but the beauty of this time of the year to dry wood is that mama nature helps a lot. You can air dry walnut 4/4 5/4 to 12-15% within 60-90 days when temps are above 70 degrees. 8/4 will take longer 90-120 days.

Walnut is pretty forgiving. If you have it under a shed you have already increased your yield.

-- Kyle Edwards,, Iron Station , NC (near Charlotte)

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


23270 posts in 5009 days

#15 posted 07-30-2010 07:54 AM

What happens if it is in the open?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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