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AZ woodworkers, how do you do in the summer?

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Forum topic by Travis posted 03-03-2019 07:04 AM 826 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Travis

301 posts in 273 days


03-03-2019 07:04 AM

Hi all,

I am a new woodworker and anticipating my first Phoenix summer as a woodworker. Temperatures here are likely to stay triple digits for a few months straight. My workshop is basically my garage when I’ve pulled the car out. Ventilation but no climate control. Which brings me to a few questions.

1) I store my lumber in the garage. Any issues with the high temperature on the wood (e.g., cracking)? Termites are a known problem in Phoenix. Any concerns about storing my lumber in the garage from that standpoint?

2) If I brave the temperature and work on a project in my garage, will I have issues migrating the finished piece into a climate controlled environment (e.g., wood warps and changes from the sudden transition of 110° to 70°)?

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.


10 replies so far

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

1885 posts in 2001 days


#1 posted 03-03-2019 09:08 AM

Welcome to AZ.
Moved here 18 years ago, still not an expert at AZ weather and wood working.
But will share some things I learned:

1) As long lumber is out of sun/wind/rain, and off the ground to avoid moisture/bugs; wood storage will be fine many places. Lumber out doors under tarps tends to get split ends with long term storage due wide temp swings. If exposed to sun, expect some surface hardening, end checking, and discoloration. Lumber inside stays about same year round as garage has reduced temperature swings.
Only thing to watch out for is trapped moisture. If garage is well sealed, and constantly park a wet vehicle inside during monsoon season, garage can hold moisture and raise the moisture level in wood. Using a swamp cooler in garage can impact wood movement too. But since most AZ homes have gas hot water and/or gas furnace in garage, the garage work shop will be vented and have no moisture issues.

2) AZ termites are primarily wet ground dwellers. Relatively easy to avoid. Keep 1 foot of absolutely dry dirt between house and any irrigated plants and odds of infestation drop dramatically. Put plants and irrigation against building slab and walls, expect to get visited. Wet ground near dead wood is the invitation. If keep lumber several feet off ground and dry, will practically never see any termites in lumber.

3) Wood working in summer is easy. Just have to work early, very early in dead of summer. Most of use can comfortably work in shade of garage up to about 95-100F (except with high humidity in monsoon season). Once thermometer hits 100, working in shop gets slow, sweaty, and it is hard to stay hydrated. Generally speaking, I can work in my open garage shop till about 9-10am in late June, July/August, almost noon in late May, early June, September. So if you start early, can get substantial shop time every morning in all but July/August. We also get random breaks in high temps, especially around monsoon season in late July/August. If you can tolerate extra humidity, might not reach 100 till 4pm?

4) Moving an AZ made project inside in summer is generally not an issue, as humidity is low (if you have HVAC). It mostly depends on lumber used. If you attempt to use construction lumber @ typical 8-10% from BORG, then you will see movement as it dries indoors. But if your lumber is typical < 4 % found in hardwood stored in AZ for a few months, it rarely moves as you bring it indoors. If anything the higher inside moisture and lower temperature counteract each other and you don’t see any major change?
If your home uses swamp cooler to lower indoor temperatures, then do need to be more concerned about movement. Made a couple night stands for friend with swamp cooling, and they got sticky drawers every time the swamp cooler was used. Had to open up tolerances on wood drawer slides to fix issue.

Best Luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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Knockonit

606 posts in 709 days


#2 posted 03-03-2019 12:09 PM

LOL, it can be a chore, being a Native and spending my first 15 years on a ranch in the middle of no where, one learns to cope, and nope we did not have ac, had the water pond, actually a stock pond, to maybe cool off in, and since we didn’t have ac, didn’t really miss it, anyhows, i’ve lived in phoenix, since the mid 60s having moved off the ranch down in SE Arizona.
its really hard for the first timers, have seen about as many go as come after a scorcher of a summer. Capt. nailed it pretty much, guess i’m used to is, oh i get hot, just go cool off in the pool or throw a fan up, i do have a portable ac unit i use when it gets unbearable in the shop, no issue with bugs, but one must remember anything in the sun after may is gonna burn you,
i’m a construction guy and am still in it half days, while i own the joint i still hit the field most days to deal with stuff.
Do have to be careful bringing wood from out of state, we are very dry, and well sometimes it just twists, turns, and splits and cracks and well, then you have the opportunity to come up with a project to incorporate those “specialties”, just saying.
I”m in process of building a 1200 sq. ft shop, just waiting on the illustrious city officials to approve my variance so i can build a shop on my acre of city dwelling land, go figure gotta give a gaggle of money to get an approval.

anyway, best of luck, and the first summer, take it easy, learn the nuances of making it happen and keeping reasonably cool. sometimes its the best time to sneak into one of the suppliers, and stock up and take classes on different techniques it tends to quell the need to get a wood fix.

Rj in Az.

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Nubsnstubs

1618 posts in 2237 days


#3 posted 03-03-2019 02:59 PM

If you are the type of woodworker that likes a cabinet, furniture with doors that has gaps of less the 1/16”, build them in the summer during Monsoon season. When it dries out during the other 9 months of the year, the gaps will open up a little more, but your doors and drawers wont stick. I don’t know what happens in a home with AC, but after learning to adjust properly for the Monsoon season in home with swamp coolers, I’ve had no other issues with the doors.

You should always use KD lumber. Good luck, and sorry to hear you chose Phoenix over Tucson. hehehe….... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson) www.woodturnerstools.com

View Travis's profile

Travis

301 posts in 273 days


#4 posted 03-03-2019 03:23 PM

Awesome guys, exactly the kind of information I was looking for. Thank you!

I’m loving the near-perfect weather right now but I know it won’t last and was wondering how summer would impact things. You’ve given me lots of reassurances and things to consider ;)

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

1885 posts in 2001 days


#5 posted 03-03-2019 07:21 PM


I m loving the near-perfect weather right now but I know it won t last and was wondering how summer would impact things.
- Travis

Shhh… stop telling everyone we have nice weather. We have enough winter traffic as it is. hehe

Typically 1st day time high over 100F occurs 1st week of May. Most years the 1st triple digit temp spike is a warning. We usually drop back into low 90’s for short period (week or two), but once triple digit highs return, stays till September. Monsoon season will offer a couple sub-100F days, but with humidity it stills feels like 100+.

IMHO – the hardest part of summer is not daytime high; it is the overnight ‘low’ temperatures. The overnight low’s creep up as summer beats down on us, and by middle June temp never drops below 80F. Nothing worse than trying to fix household gadget, or work on car in shop at 9-10pm, its dark, and temp is still 90+. Trouble is all concrete in city holds heat, and takes till morning hours to cool off. By July you are starting the morning at 85F+, and hit middle 90’s shortly after sun comes up. :-(

Lived in rural area(s) of Tucson and overnight lows cooled down much quicker, and got lower than Phoenix. Jerry is right, better place for weather if you can get away from concrete suburban jungle. :)

FWIW – Heard the analogy from 2 different HR heads that living in Phoenix summer heat is like getting married:
1st year is great.
2nd year is ok.
3rd year – This is annoying. Not fun anymore.
4th year – Whoa, I must have been out of mind when I agreed to do this! Help?
5th year – You either settle in with decision that everything is wonderful, or you run away as fast as can to something better.

It was true for me both times I got married, and then when I moved to Arizona.
If you make it through year 5, you will be golden.

Stay cool!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View Travis's profile

Travis

301 posts in 273 days


#6 posted 03-03-2019 10:24 PM



FWIW – Heard the analogy from 2 different HR heads that living in Phoenix summer heat is like getting married:
1st year is great.
2nd year is ok.
3rd year – This is annoying. Not fun anymore.
4th year – Whoa, I must have been out of mind when I agreed to do this! Help?
5th year – You either settle in with decision that everything is wonderful, or you run away as fast as can to something better.

It was true for me both times I got married, and then when I moved to Arizona.
If you make it through year 5, you will be golden.

Stay cool!

- CaptainKlutz

Lol, thanks for the analogy, but now I’m getting worried… I thought the first year would be the hardest! Ok, I can get through five.

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

582 posts in 1126 days


#7 posted 03-04-2019 09:15 PM

When I lived in Las Vegas, I learned that after a year or two I could work in the shop up to about 104, then it was time to jump in the pool.

Early morning is your best time to start. If you make things for the neighbors, it helps with noise complaints.

Never had an issue bringing things indoors, but items sent to my grand kids in AK and WI had to allow for swelling on acclimating to their environments.

Hydrate or die. (My wife’s guidance)

-- Sawdust Maker

View Travis's profile

Travis

301 posts in 273 days


#8 posted 03-04-2019 09:24 PM



When I lived in Las Vegas, I learned that after a year or two I could work in the shop up to about 104, then it was time to jump in the pool.

Early morning is your best time to start. If you make things for the neighbors, it helps with noise complaints.

Never had an issue bringing things indoors, but items sent to my grand kids in AK and WI had to allow for swelling on acclimating to their environments.

Hydrate or die. (My wife s guidance)

- LittleShaver

That’s what I worry about…the noise. I’m in a tight neighborhood, not much space between houses. I keep the garage door open when working due to dust/ventilation. I’m sure my neighbors will kill me if I start running the saw before the sun comes up.

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View Peteybadboy's profile

Peteybadboy

1152 posts in 2456 days


#9 posted 03-04-2019 09:27 PM

I live in Ft Myers fla, very high humidity, temps in the 90’s all summer. I put in a split ac unit for summer work. love it.

-- Petey

View Travis's profile

Travis

301 posts in 273 days


#10 posted 03-04-2019 11:16 PM



I live in Ft Myers fla, very high humidity, temps in the 90 s all summer. I put in a split ac unit for summer work. love it.

- Peteybadboy

That does sound nice!

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

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