Air-Drying Cuban Mahogany

      This stable wood may dry fast indoors, but kiln-drying would also eliminate pests. September 14, 2006

I have a shipment of 500bf of 4/4 and 8/4 Cuban mahogany en route to my shop in SE Ohio from Key West, FL. My client has handled purchase and shipping of the material. We just found out that the material is at 16% moisture content. The supplier has suggested that 2-3 weeks of air drying in my shop will be enough time for the wood to acclimate and dry to 8-10% so I can start working with it. I'm skeptical but have read that Cuban mahogany does dry fast and is one of the most dimensionally stable woods in existence. What would you do? I will be building some slab counter tops, slab cabinet doors, slab cabinet finished ends, interior doors with flat panels and stiles and rails and jambs.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor T:
What would I do? I'd stack and sticker it properly and check it with my moisture meter. When it is ready to work, I'd use it, but not until then.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
When someone says *wood is at* 16% MC, oftentimes they mean that it ranges anywhere from 12 to 25% MC. I agree. Dry it right and be safe... You will be at the correct MC and also insect free.

From contributor S:
Should he sticker it and let air dry or get it in a kiln? I am curious too.

From contributor T:
That's his preference. I personally use air dried stock for my woodworking. I think in about 5 years I've used 1 piece of kiln dried lumber.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Kiln drying is a rapid way to achieve a low MC (7% MC typically). Air drying (that is drying outside and not in a shop) will achieve only 12% MC at best, as the outside RH is 65% RH in most of the USA and Canada. AD lumber will shrink when moved into a heated home or office. If AD lumber is put in a drier location before use, it will then achieve the low MC that is essential for most interior wood projects. Kiln drying does set the pitch in softwoods and also kills any insects and eggs in the wood if the temperature exceeds 130 F.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the feedback. I intend to sticker it and set up a dehumidifier and a fan in my shop and monitor MC over a couple of weeks. I do have access to kilns as a last resort. I did some research and found that Cuban mahogany supposedly air dries faster than most other woods and is one of the most dimensionally stable woods in existence. Those characteristics have relieved some of my anxiety.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
What about powder post beetles? That is the advantage of using a kiln... it will kill them when the wood goes over 130 F.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Good question. Any way to check for their presence?

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
As they may take a year or more to hatch and leave their small holes, it is hard to tell (i.e., not 100% by any means) by just looking at lumber.

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