Acclimation: Final environment or the shop?

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Forum topic by davidwww posted 12-04-2021 05:07 AM 527 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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19 posts in 146 days

12-04-2021 05:07 AM

I’m sure this has been asked before, and it’s probably fairly obvious to those with a lot of experience. But simply put – do I acclimate my lumber TO its final environment, OR to my shop?

To dig in a bit, I’m building a desk that will consist of a mitered + dovetail-keyed case of 3/4in stock to make a wide, deep, narrow-hieght box that’s 55” x 28” x 5” that will live in my basement. It’s being made mostly from 4/4 60yr+ old ash that’s been in my garage for around a month, probably been drying for about that 60 yrs.

I have already brought all the lumber I plan to use for the case and base to the basement, stacked an stickered with narrow parts leaning on the wall – not yet milled as I need to deep-clean the garage after my previous project .

I plan to bring all my lumber/project parts down there any time I’m done working for the day, and I’ll be doing glueups downstairs.

All that said, is this smart? Or does it make more sense to let it acclimate to the shop? There is part of me that will want to leave it all out there instead of bringing it all inside every day. Especially once I get to having a giant heavy case like that. I’m sure I’ll have wished that it was all stable inside the shop to avoid the difficulties of transporting it all.

So should I be acclimating my lumber to the shop, or to the place that it’s going to all end up? What are your methods?

(I haven’t done any large hardwood projects besides some more supervised stuff I did in a furniture shop a while ago. Even then, wood movement was a huge issue and I’m trying to mitigate it as I don’t get a whole lot of shop time during the week!)

5 replies so far

View Aj2's profile


4216 posts in 3128 days

#1 posted 12-04-2021 07:26 AM

Yes leave them in the shop. If you have resawed some parts that are really close to final sized take precautions so they don’t cup.
I work in a open air shop is don’t build anything complicated if it late spring. Because of wild temp and moisture swings.
They best advice I can give is to learn by doing. Air dried wood is great a joy with hand tools and I find color is always better then kiln dried woods.
Good Luck

-- Aj

View RClark's profile


234 posts in 3516 days

#2 posted 12-04-2021 01:12 PM

Your home page doesn’t have any details about your shop environment or location, so my answers will depend on how you are fixed for shop space.

I would acclimate to the shop space. For me, I wouldn’t relish the idea of moving the project at the end of every work day to another work or storage space. I’d opt to keep that project in one environment, and so I’d like to keep them in the same space where the milling and cutting operations are taking place.

I generally don’t concern myself about how the whole project will acclimate to a new indoor space after the project is done. Of course, I make allowances for natural seasonal movement, and take that into consideration as I’m working on the piece.

It’s coming on to winter, so if you have a heated shop where you can keep the project warm (55 degrees or greater), then I would do all the work there and do the glue-ups there. The glue manufacturer will have info on their website telling about temperature requirements for glue-ups and curing.

If you don’t have heated space and live in a cold area, then the work methods will change, perhaps greatly. The driving factor will be temps for the glue-up since the project should be at the minimum recommended temperature as set by the glue manufacturer.

-- Ray

View 4wood's profile


108 posts in 1284 days

#3 posted 12-04-2021 02:26 PM

I live in an area where everything I build for a client ends up in a climate-controlled environment. This is when it is important to have a good moisture meter and some way to check the relative humidity of where it will end up. Check the relative humidity of the environment and the moisture content in some of the wood (ash) if possible, in the environment where it will be going. In my case the moisture content of wood in the client’s place is usually around 10% and the relative humidity is between 40 and 50. Eventually your project will end up at the same readings of its environment, so the closer you are to that, the better it is. I am fortunate to have a small area in my shop where I can place a dehumidifier and try to acclimate the woods moisture content, to the client’s environment. I take the wood out of the controlled area to work on it and return it when I am finished at the end of the day. This is Florida where the relative humidity is usually very high except for some winter months. It takes a while for the moisture content to change. If this project is for your home, I would consider keeping the wood upstairs if possible.

View Ed Weber's profile

Ed Weber

86 posts in 213 days

#4 posted 12-04-2021 11:49 PM

Personally I vote for the final environment.
If you shop is climate controlled you’re fine but if not you need to be more careful.
The relative humidity inside a house can change drastically over the seasons with AC and/or forced hot air. Having the furniture or whatever built in an unheated shop or basement and moving it inside can cause issues.

View Rich's profile


7740 posts in 1920 days

#5 posted 12-06-2021 03:37 AM

You’re overthinking it. If you properly account for wood movement, it won’t matter a whit where you do your work.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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