seasoned stock

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    david o’sullivan

    i am just wondering what exactly is meant by the term “well seasoned?” and how would one know if the timber is well seasoned?. is it stock that has gone through a years drying since it has been cut or is it more? and then what about klin dried timber does this need time to season as well? would one need a moisture meter to determine if timber is seasoned or not? i more or less buy and use klin dried timber as i need it and use it within a week or so . is this a bad idea? i am sure some of you can answer these questions for a confused woodworker.thanks in advance

    "we can learn what to do, by doing" Aristotle


    Try these……
    This paper may be reproduced in full provided acknowledgment is made to the Forestry Commission of New South Wales.

    Timothy Corcoran

    If you are buying pre-milled stock I don’t think I would see the need for a moisture meter. The lumber you are purchasing should have a standardized moisture content prior to being ready for market. This does not mean that you should avoid the climatization process as relative humidity levels vary from place to place. (i.e. lumberyard, warehouse, storage facility, wood shed, woodworking shed etc.)

    Your supplier should know what the moisture content is of the type of stock you are purchasing. Usually family operated, smaller distributors are the better choice as they know their business and their product well.

    Here in Canada, well seasoned translates into “good for burning” 🙂


    I tend to condition the wood in stages. After I buy timber for a project I let it sit for a while in my workshop. This can be days or weeks. I buy my timber locally so the humidity change is not so great. Most of it is kiln-dried. After preliminarily milling it I let it sit again for a day or two, then I mill it to final dimension.

    After the project is complete I will usually revisit it a few months later to adjust the doors and drawers. A desk I made in April with very snug-fitting drawers was sticking slightly by July, so I took a couple of shavings off one or two places.

    It usually takes a full year at least for me to discover all the ins and outs of a piece.

    George Bridgeman

    Hi David,

    Seasoning, at least from green/mostly green, can be a complex process. There are a couple of really good books that go into it in more detail than you’d care to read. Understanding Wood by R. Bruce Hoadley, and With The Grain by Christian Becksvoort. The latter is much easier to read.

    Studs, or softwoods available from builders merchants, are usually kiln dried so will be pretty dry you pick them up. They’ll still lose or gain (but mostly lose, as they’d have been in an outside yard) moisture when you bring them home as they balance with the ambient humidity in your shop, so leaving them for a while before working with them is a good practice to get into, as well as the steps @richardleon mentioned. A moisture meter is handy but you can just weigh the boards on a set of bathroom scales every day and only start using them once their weight stops changing.

    I use a moisture meter when picking out timber to check how wet they are, and how much moisture they’ll have to lose to balance in my shop. If they’re anything over 15% or so I won’t bother taking them because there’s a risk they’ll check as they get to the 7-10% equilibrium moisture content (when the moisture content in the wood is balanced with the humidity of the shop), plus it can take a good while to balance out, and I’m impatient!

    There’s a ton of information on the web about seasoning but one of the most commonly stated facts is wrong. The ‘one year per inch of thickness’ guideline that so many people mention is incorrect. Drying time is a function of the square of the thickness (both books I listed state this). So, a 1″ thick board could take a year to dry out to it’s EMC (equilibrium moisture content) but a 2″ thick board can take four years. 3″, nine years, etc. Thankfully, if you’re buying kiln-dried timber, you won’t have to wait quite that long!

    Hope this helps. I’ve been reading about and experimenting with seasoning lately and come to the conclusion that seasoning (in terms of air drying from 30% or so) is not something I want to try again quite yet because of all the complexities. Plus, if I make a mistake or the wood is super wet when I get it, I can end up with a whole lot of unusable timber, which I can’t really afford (only happened once but that’s enough)!


    "To know and not do is to not know"

    Paul Sellers

    I would like to jump in here and decomplex what soon becomes complex. Seasoning is not the same as drying. Seasoning conditions the wood by reducing moisture in the wood, yes, but the point that’s important to us is that we are moving from mass-making methods to seasoning and drying rather than merely drying. All that drying and seasoning really needs is patience enough to leave the wood alone. I have air-dried some woods 2″ down to 11% in two years and other woods have taken more and less time. I have some more thoughts on this, but need to think them through.

    david o’sullivan

    thanks for reply guys, thats some reading in the link ken but very interesting.the reason for the question i was offered some rough mahogany boards a few weeks back that i thought i would make the tool chest with.but i noticed some boards where quiet heavy compared to others the same size.

    "we can learn what to do, by doing" Aristotle

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