Shaker Wood Drying

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Forum topic by Cecil Rogers posted 07-07-2013 09:56 PM 923 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Cecil Rogers

33 posts in 3300 days

07-07-2013 09:56 PM

Does anyone know of any resource material on how the Shaker craftsmen dried their lumber? I’ve read a couple of the books (but not all of them), and both declare that they were masters at drying lumber, but neither gives any ideas on how they actually did it. Before digital hygrometers and moisture meters, before humidifiers and dehumidifiers, before heaters and fans, they seemed to have mastered the process. I would sure love some insight as to the way they did it.

-- Cecil, Orange Park, FL

5 replies so far

View Dusty56's profile


11838 posts in 4019 days

#1 posted 07-07-2013 10:16 PM
Best I could find for you. Apparently they air-dried their “lumber” and allowed it to “season” over many years to stabilize the wood before using it. Nothing else out there that I could find as yet. : ) Great question though .

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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Cecil Rogers

33 posts in 3300 days

#2 posted 07-07-2013 10:42 PM

Thank you…. I had found that too, but he didn’t really define what “seasoning” was other than to say it was allowed to air dry for several years. What I’m hoping for though is the process after the air drying. How did they dry it past equilibrium moisture content, or did they even bother after air drying it for several years?

What I do know is the stuff they worked was some of the most “stable” wood ever. Just wish I knew their secrets…

-- Cecil, Orange Park, FL

View bondogaposis's profile


5323 posts in 2682 days

#3 posted 07-08-2013 12:00 AM

I don’t think there is any real secret to it. It just takes a dry place to stack and sticker and a lot of time as was the common practice for hundreds of years. I much prefer air dry to kiln dry when I can get it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View pintodeluxe's profile


5898 posts in 3144 days

#4 posted 07-08-2013 12:06 AM

Well, in those days there was no central heating / cooling so 10-12% m.c. was acceptable. Air drying outside for a year per inch of thickness, then drying inside for a month would bring hardwoods into that moisture range.
They left posts and legs slightly higher in moisture content. That way the mortises would shrink around the tenons, tightening the joints as it dried.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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Cecil Rogers

33 posts in 3300 days

#5 posted 07-09-2013 12:12 PM

Thanks for the replies, gents, and the insights.

-- Cecil, Orange Park, FL

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