4 Most Important Wood Drying Tips for Your Next Woodworking Project

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Need to dry wood for woodworking? Want to learn how to dry furniture wood properly? You’ve come to the right place. I’ve been a cabinetmaker since the mid-1980s, and drying wood for furniture is something I do all the time. That’s me working with some rough cherry in my shop. Drying wood is important because big things will go wrong if you don’t do it right. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about drying furniture wood, too. And it all comes down to moisture.

Working with wood that’s too wet is like falling into a pit. By the time your plight is obvious, it’s usually too late. Assembled parts warp, glue joints crack, and a rising sense of panic takes hold. I know because I’ve felt it. I also know it doesn’t have to be this way. An understanding of the wily ways of wet wood can keep you one step ahead of trouble while letting you enjoy success using all kinds of inexpensive and interesting lumber that might otherwise cause you grief. I’ve been working with wood for fun and professionally for a long time, so you can trust me on this.

How Storage Locations Affect Wood’s Equilibrium Moisture Content

The first thing to understand is that wood is a moisture sponge. It slowly loses or absorbs moisture from its surroundings. When a piece of wood is in balance with the moisture of the air around it, the wood is said to have reached equilibrium moisture content (EMC). Kiln-dried or air-dried, it’s all the same as far as absorbing moisture goes. Wood stored in a damp place gets wetter and bigger. Dry air makes wood drier and smaller. The trick is ensuring that your wood has a moisture content (and size) in balance with the driest interior environment your completed woodworking project, trim or flooring is likely to face. And getting there depends on where you start.

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