Last Updated on October 11, 2020 by woodcutter
Acquiring woodworking skills gives you the edge to create some cool stuff without having to spend a penny. The sharing of information on the web has made a culture of DIY (do it yourself) woodworking because the skills are now accessible with ease. However, this is not without hurdles along the way, especially when the wood you are working on deteriorates such that it becomes virtually worthless.
How does it come to this? Wood is organic and containing some degree of moisture when inadequately seasoned, can rot with ease, given the right conditions. You are also likely to have noticed how tough it is to glue wet wood. Before you make up your mind by quitting on working with wood, hold your breaks! In this article, I shall be talking about how to dry wood fast for woodworking.
Tips On Drying Wood Fast For Woodworking
Prepare The Green Wood
Before you embark on the actual drying process, you need to prepare the wet wood before switching over to the drying process. Preparation involves the stripping of the wood of its bark to expose the tough inner cellulose. The bark can be removed using a knife or small axe depending on how tough it adheres to the woody part. The next step is meant to deal with the removal of wood sap.
Sap promotes wood-rotting at an unprecedented rate. What is needed is to soak the stripped wood overnight in water. Cutting the wood into lengths that fit into the water holding container may be required. The mechanism of soaking the stripped wood involves absorbing the water by the wood so that the sap gets dissolved into solution. The process results in swelled wood.
Understand Wood Behaves like A Moisture Sponge
The behavior of wood is analogous to a sponge. That is to say, it can lose moisture slowly, including the ability to absorb the water from its surroundings. A level of equilibrium moisture content is when wood moisture is in a state of balance with the air surrounding it. What is needed to be achieved is making sure the wood’s moisture content is in balance with the driest interior environment your completed masterpiece is likely to be exposed to. The use of some devices like the moisture meter (to be explained) will be handy.
Stack Wood With Spacers And Light Breeze When Air-Drying Your Wood
Even that which has just come from the sawmill, Wood has some moisture content that needs to be reduced. For faster air drying, you need to make sure that when you stack the wood, you leave air spaces for air/breeze to move freely, removing moisture through evaporation. In order to reduce the waiting period before the moisture content becomes just right, think about where you can stack the wood during the drying.
Stacking it in an area with little ventilation like the garage will not be fast. That’s when you will likely to start fidgeting with impatience. The ideal place is outdoors under a shade. The shade prevents over-drying marked by the wood’s rapid shrinking and shields it from further moisture from rainfall. The best days for air drying are thus sunny, breezy days.
When Air-Drying Target Between 7 and 9% moisture content
Woodworking wood requires a moisture content level lying between 7 and 9% to prevent your projects from warping and cracking during the driest part of the heating season. In order to achieve these levels, it requires a second drying phase. Now whatever you do, do not skip this step. Doing so would take you into that familiar place where you cry over problems you will be having with you, dear wood projects.
What’s required is some good heating, air, and time. How long before completion depends on determining factors like the thickness of the wood. The thicker it is, the longer the wait is going to be. Additionally, the wetness of the wood has a say too. Lastly, temperature and humidity also have crucial roles when it comes to wood drying. Humidity retards the drying process when it is high.
Stack Wood With All Sides Exposed When Air-Drying
Be sure you stack your workpiece or project’s parts with all the sides exposed between sessions. The use of spacer strips can make this an effective process. To further accelerate the drying process, directing a common fan to the stack works great. In fact, it makes the drying twice as fast. Awesome right?
Wait As Long As Possible Before Cutting Final Parts
Avoid rushing on to cutting the wood into sizes required for your project. Instead, allow for sufficient time to lose some moisture so that it would not misbehave later on. Remember, shrinkage makes wood lose its initial dimensions, now suppose you measured these dimensions before sufficient moisture gets lost.
Expert experience says you would find yourself in a situation you would feel like pulling your hair out because the dimensions have changed. The use of a moisture meter will go a long way in helping you know when the wood has stabilized so that you can move on to the next level. This piece of tech works by inducing a small electric current through the wood and measures electrical resistance. For every resistance, calibration has been programmed for corresponding moisture content. The lower the resistance and the higher the moisture content.
Make it a tradition of measuring freshly cut surfaces to get an accurate reading of internal moisture content. To prevent having wood pieces that do not fit or with altered dimensions due to shrinkage, let me suggest you cut the wood slightly oversized. This will greatly reduce any shrinkage effects that would have taken place had you not cut the wood sizes somewhat above the required.
Seal The Ends
Wood loses moisture from its ends about 10 to 12 times faster than it does through other surfaces. This is to be avoided for the wood to be sound. Rapid moisture loss like this would result in splits and end grain checking. Often the ends would shrink faster than the rest of the wood, coined “differential shrinkage.” It creates excellent stresses on the piece, which are only relieved with end grain checks. So just how do you prevent this while drying the wood fast for woodworking?
What you need to do is to seal the wood ends. Though there are specialized end grain sealers on the market, other makeshift sealers work just as fine. The use of paraffin wax , polyurethane, shellac, and latex paint has been done with success to seal the end grain surface. To greatly reduce the risk of checking, it is best for a coating to be made on the wood ends within minutes after coming off the saw. Waiting for days or even hours has to be avoided.
Stack and Stick the wood
Stacking wood in a manner in which it receives sufficient airflow can never be stressed enough. Stickers are handy in achieving this by allowing adequate exposer to the air on all sides while the wood is being stacked. These are small pieces of wood about ¾ of an inch by 1 ½ of an inch used to add space between sawn planks.
This dramatically increases the ventilation and aid in a more uniform drying process. The sticker spacing is unique and varies depending on the species and thickness of the wood being dried. A 16 inch or 24-inch spacing is usually sufficient for use on thicker wood.
Add Heat Once Equilibrium Moisture Content Is Reached
Once the equilibrium moisture content is reached and the air humidity is somehow higher, the content must be further down. This can be done by only moving the wood into a heated area, such as a heated basement. The use of a drying cabinet is handy when you are dealing with shorter wooden pieces. It can bring down the moisture content down to 6% or even lower. For the benefit of those not familiar with this device, I am going to be describing it.
The drying cabinet is a simple wooden cabinet equipped with an incandescent lightbulb on a dimmer to control light output finely. This dictates the internal temperature and relative humidity. Some cabinets come equipped with a hydrometer for humidity measurements. Thus, all you have to do is inspect and keep checking what it reads so that you can alter the temperature according to humidity levels at that particular time.
Damp, swollen wood will never be a problem again in your workshop. Whether you’re crafting puppets or constructing furniture for your home, a good craftsman knows to use good quality dry wood on their products. Follow these tips on how to dry your wood for woodwork, and you’ll produce quality crafts and furniture that will keep heads turning.