Wood Moisture Meter
Moisture Meter for Wood is THE Essential
Whether you are installing hardwood flooring, building a piece of fine wood furniture or turning a bowl, it is essential to know if the wood you are using is dry. The only effective way to do this is with the use of a wood moisture meter. Wood cut green can be as much as 80% water, so it has a long way to dry if it is to perform in the traditional home environment without cracking or experiencing joint failure.
The industry standard for hardwoods is 6.5-8% moisture content. When we receive a shipment, it does not get off the truck until it has been checked.. and you may think that is excessive, but I can tell you two stories.
Less than a year ago we brought in a truck load of oak from the north-central US, and on metering it was coming in at between 14-18%. Talking to the sawmill, we found out that they had had serious spring floods in the last months and this must have "taken on water" .. in this case I might have been a little sympathetic but not even going to that extreme, we had another smaller load come in from a traditional wholesaler and when questioned on moisture content, he suggested that the 11% reading was "close enough". Of course after he saw a few laminations that had let go, and considered his liability his tune changed a little. So it was essential in both of these cases to have a moisture meter. For wood, before you use, it must be checked!
Softwoods like white pine and cedar, used for furniture or interior finishing are considered are a little differently as they can naturally fluctuate just sitting in a warehouse. They are much more porous and can easily pickup water if not stored appropriately. They are typically dried to 12%, although I'm not sure that I have seen that in writing, probably because they are of less value and often mixed up with construction material that only have to be dried to under 19% to be labeled as kiln dried.
Exotic woods, especially from the casual importer can be just about anything from pretty green at over 20% , to partially airdried in the country of origin, to the species that are more readily available like Brazilian cherry that is more likely to be kiln-dried properly to 8%.
Thus using a moisture meter for wood, is an essential step in your woodworking adventure. Best to know your wood is wet before starting your project then after it is installed. So what should you purchase... here's a few ideas on wood moisture meter design.