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Moisture percentage of wood for building and age?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by [CRTL+ALT+DEL], Feb 24, 2014.


    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    so i'm looking into buying some wood. what is a good moisture content for some really hard wood? also, is there a certain age a wood needs to be before you can use it.

    just trying not to get some wood that isn't done yet and would warp, twist, crack.

    i was going for cheap, strong, stiff and heavy, like ipe fretboard and jotoba - something - jatoba neck.

    are different woods different also in how long or to what % they need dried?

    i actually have a different thread going about the above named woods. but i thought i should make a another just about moisture content since i can't find one.
  2. 2behead


    Mar 8, 2011
    I'm not a luthier but I am a carpenter. I would think kiln dried would be the only way to go. After being dried it is "stable".

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    the dude at the lumber joint said all their wood is kiln dried to 14-16%. but they sell it for decking. is that moisture content acceptable? i read some luthier got his dried to 7 to 8%. i'm not sure if that's the target or the builders personal taste. as of yet after going thru threads for hours, i haven't found anyone else actually using numbers.
  4. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Kiln dried to 6% is a good starting point. From there, the wood will normalize with the surrounding atmosphere, so it won't remain at 6% for long.

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    that's the kind of info i was looking for. damn, i was hoping to buy some of that decking ipe. it's cheap. haven't found any luthier grade wood supply sites that sell it. hot pursuit on 6%. thanks bro
  6. Good luck with 6%. Unless you continue to keep it in a kiln it wont stay 6% for long and will be a waste of time if its all your looking for. This is not necessary as ALL wood will acclimate to its surroundings over time..this is why you read that most luthiers let the wood sit and breathe for a year or more. Your on the East Coast with moderate to high humidity. Wood content will be closer to 7%-8%..6% is more arid regions.

    The benefit of a kiln is faster dried wood however there is discussion that it may dry some wood too fast and result in loss of quality or possible movement once placed back into service...mainly as it absorbs water. Air dried takes forever but is less prone to change when transitioning to a drier state. Most of the moving has happened early on in the drying process.
  7. Also..there is nothing wrong with buying wetter wood. Just figure out if you have room for storage as this takes some time to dry out. If we're talking a small amount you can always make yourself a homemade kiln in a closet using a small heater, fan, and dehumidifier.

    Figure on 1 year per 1" thick to dry..Always seal the ends so it dries from the middle out as this will decrease checking.

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    i like the idea. but i don't have a year.
  9. Gaolee

    Gaolee Outta my way! I'm caffeinated! Supporting Member

    I have done a fair amount of work on furniture with a variety of species of wood, and I can say from experience that kiln dried hardwood will sometimes have some pretty strange internal stresses. What happens is that it will look fine, but then it will move a lot once you start cutting and shaping it. You don't want that to happen. Some of the more exotic hardwoods have a pretty major difference between tangential and radial shrinkage, too, so they will move more in one direction than another. You can sometimes buy air dried wood from places that cater to picky woodworkers. It will be expensive wood, but you don't need that much of it, anyway.
  10. EXACTLY!
  11. I hear ya..but again...your best bet will be 8% as this is about as close to RH you will find in your region. 6% is the desert and not sure why that was suggested really. I think down toward Florida and parts of Cali they are lucky to get 11-12.

    It looks like your in NY...great location for Hard Maple. Perhaps a road trip upstate a bit will yield great results :bassist: