Hardwood shrinkage when drying?

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Forum topic by oceanview posted 05-07-2012 04:17 PM 1500 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2814 days

05-07-2012 04:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hardwood shrinkage question

A gentleman in the Vancouver area delivers hardwood by the cord. He offers a “spring special” for $375 per cord compared to $425. He explains that the only difference is that it dries at our place instead of his and this saves a lot of hours on his end and therefor then lesser price. I thought about it and expressed to him that if he is delivering two cords of wood that are not yet seasoned then it will shrink and become less then two cords. He said no, that hardwood does not shrink when drying. The “spring special” wood is not freshly cut down but is freshly split and not yet dry for burning. He guarantees it to be dry by October.

It seems unrealistic that the hardwood won’t shrink when drying. The $50 savings is not that great if I am drying the wood and it shrinks to less volume then I’d get if I just ordered it ready to burn.

I’d appreciate any thoughts and opinions.

9 replies so far

View Allanwoodworks's profile


112 posts in 3444 days

#1 posted 05-07-2012 04:37 PM


I don’t know about hardwood firewood, I typically burn softer woods like Doug Fir or Pine. That price seems steep, I live in North Bend up by Seattle, and a full chord of seasoned fire wood goes for around $200 to $250 now in the summer but in Aug or Sept the price does go up to $400 or so. I have a mill and a solar kiln and I will tell you that Hardwood will shrink but not enough to be worried about it. What I would be worried about is will it be fully seasoned by October. The rule is for every 1” of wood will take a year to dry. If the wood does not dry out then you get all that nasty creosote build up and chimney fires. Hope this helped.

-- Ty, Up in Washington

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 4527 days

#2 posted 05-07-2012 04:41 PM

You can calculate the amount of shrinkage by knowing the original MC, the species, and the end MC. It is unrealistic, (as in NOT TRUE) that hardwood does not shrink. Whether it shrinks enough to significantly affect a cord measurement is highly doubtful. I think you may have to measure with a micrometer. But then as I said it depends on the aformentioned factors. Also if you don’t dry it properly you likely will get warp, check, collapse, case-hardening, twist etc. For that little savings I’d let him dry it at least if quality is guaranteed. In summary if not dried with care you can ruin the wood.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3561 days

#3 posted 05-07-2012 09:07 PM

It will shrink a bit, but it is so little in volume that it shouldn’t be a concern. Three or four extra pieces would make up for it. I have cut, dried, and burned hundreds of cords of firewood, and what he is telling you is right. It will be fine next fall, but better if you leave it out and in the sun during the summer. Nobody I have ever met dries firewood down to woodworking dryness, and most woods burn better if they are half-dried anyway. If that is the going rate (I’m in NW Oregon, it’s around $200 a cord here but it’s mostly fir and alder) then you can either buy his or someone elses and end up with the same thing.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 3239 days

#4 posted 05-07-2012 11:00 PM

Hardwood shrinkage..hehe…sorry I’m immature

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18783 posts in 4279 days

#5 posted 05-08-2012 02:47 AM

I have burned a lot of maple and never noticed any difference in the wood pile. Don’t worry about it. It will weigh less.

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

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2958 days

#6 posted 05-08-2012 03:48 AM

Mountain that rule is dependant on the wood type and is typically only applied when the bark is left on the wood, there are some species that will dry in 2-3 months.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3079 days

#7 posted 05-08-2012 11:51 AM

You can figure about 6 – 7% volume shrinkage from green to air dry.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View oceanview's profile


4 posts in 2814 days

#8 posted 05-11-2012 08:05 PM

Thank you everyone!

View Scot's profile


344 posts in 3999 days

#9 posted 05-11-2012 08:12 PM

Drying firewood is not the same as drying lumber. Firewood needs a much higher MC to keep from burning to fast. Lumber for woodworking has a mc way too low for good fire wood. Green lumber today will be great for this fall.

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

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