How to Dry Wood for Woodworking

Do you want to learn how to dry wood fast for your woodworking projects? Then you have come to the right place. When you cut wood from a live tree, it usually contains high moisture content. As the wood dries, it shrinks in size and forms uneven shapes because of the varying wood cells.

This may lead to wood projects cracking, distortion, and warping. Therefore, to avoid the problems that are associated with wet wood, it is essential to dry the material thoroughly before use. While the process is inexpensive and simple, it requires a long waiting period to achieve the best result.

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When it comes to effective ways of how to dry lumber, many options depend on the thickness of the board. However, there are other alternatives that you can easily utilize regardless of the thickness or length of the wood.


6 Steps on How to Dry Wood Fast for Woodworking

Although there are some speed drying tips aside from the typical air-dry method, it is crucial to know how to dry wood traditionally. It has proven its effectiveness to dry lumber over time. This might not be the quickest technique of drying wood, but if you do it right, it will be dry enough to use for projects in a few weeks or months. Here are a few steps to successfully dry your wood for woodworking.

Step 1: Get a moisture meter

There is no accurate way to visually determine the moisture content of lumber. Therefore, you will need a tool called a moisture meter for this purpose. This handheld device includes two metal probes that you place against the wood, and it shows a reading of the moisture content.

Test the wood appropriately by following the owner’s manual. The most acceptable moisture content for most wood projects is 7%. Therefore, if your wood has a higher percentage of moisture, then you need to dry the board.

Step 2: Layout a row of stickers

Since you know that you need to dry your lumber, the next step is to layout pieces of wood on the floor. These will act as an elevated base to allow air circulation to the board from the ground. Furthermore, it prevents moisture from the ground from making the lumber even wetter. For this purpose, you can use some 2 by 4 wood pieces by laying them evenly with a 16-inches space between them. Ensure that you have enough stickers to efficiently support the wood for the best results.

Step 3: Stack up the first layer of wood

Starting from the first layer, stack the boards that you need to dry on the stickers. Remember to lay the lumber perpendicular on the stickers while leaving an inch of space between the pieces of board. This move facilitates an increase in airflow in each individual piece hence allowing them to dry faster.

Step 4: Continue laying the stickers and lumber

The next crucial step is adding another row of stickers directly on the boards that you previously laid. Ensure that you don’t lay the woods directly on each other to allow air to flow through them. Continue alternating between laying stickers 16 inches apart with the drying wood perpendicularly at one inch apart. Continue with this process until all the lumber you need to dry is stacked. By now, you will have a nice stack of the board to allow air circulation in all directions.

Step 5: Weigh the stack down

Another crucial tip of properly drying wood is to weigh the stack down. You should also protect the stack from rain if it is outdoors. You can achieve this by using large plywood to cover the entire top of the stack. Proceed to weigh it down with bricks or any other heavy objects to create pressure. Wood has a tendency of warping as it dries, which can cause defects on woodworking projects. Therefore, applying the downward pressure prevents the lumber from warping upwards.

This setup is also perfect for protecting the wood from rain. Avoid covering the stack with an overhanging fabric to prevent trapping in air and moisture.

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Step 6: Wait for the lumber to dry

After following the steps right, there is no reason why your timber should not dry well. The drying period depends on various factors such as temperature, ventilation, and humidity of the area. The drier and hotter the air, the faster the process. Do you remember the moisture meter that we mentioned earlier? You can use it to check if the wood is ready.

Tips for Drying Wood Fast

Now that you know the process of drying wood, it is now time to know how to speed up the process. The following tips are not only effective but also efficient in drying lumber for woodworking.

  • Dry the wood indoors: Having your stack indoors like in garage protects them from rain and fluctuating temperature. The indoors heat fast-tracks the drying process.
  • If you have to keep the stack outdoors, choose somewhere that is directly exposed to the sun. More so, the area should also be dry and windy.
  • Use a fan or dehumidifier to suck out the moisture from the boards. You simply need to set it beside the stack and let it run. This is a brilliant option if you are working on projects with deadlines.

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Final Thoughts

These steps and tips on how to dry wood fast for woodworking are proven and have stood the test of time. However, whatever you do, remember to confirm that the moisture content of your board is less than 7%. This is made easy by the moisture meter. Air drying any wood requires a degree of patience. Once you follow the tips that we have highlighted, your stack of lumber will quickly dry within a reasonable timeline. You can then work on your beautiful designs without risking the distortion of the projects.

If you want to benefit more from the waiting period of air drying the wood, ensure to include more lumber than you need for your project. This will provide you with materials for your next project.