Air-dried oak for casework?

      Air-dried lumber needs to live in the environment it will inhabit prior to fabrication. 1998.

by Professor Gene Wengert

Is my air-dried red oak safe to use for casework (book cases, pantry cabinets,etc.) or am I courting disaster? Logic seems to indicate that wood, regardless of the drying method used, will eventually reach a state of equilibrium with regard to the environment in which it is placed. Several texts and magazine articles have not given me a satisfactory answer to this question. I would appreciate any light you can shed on this matter.

Your air-dried lumber in the barn will be at 11 to 12% MC (equivalent to slightly under 65% relative humidity in the barn). In the house, you will likely have a humidity of 30 to 40% RH, which will result in 6 to 7% MC in the wood. Oak is a high shrinking wood (3% MC change equals 1% shrinkage). The basement may actually be dry enough to reduce the MC to the 6 to 7% MC level--is it heated and dry? If the basement isn't dry enough, how about putting a few pieces in the attic for a month? (Not too many pieces or you'll crash the roof down!) It is hot and dry in the attic.

Special note: Kiln drying at temperatures over 130F does two things, in addition to rapid drying--it kills all insects, eggs, and fungi in the wood and it sets the resin in softwoods so the resin doesn't drip or flow at room temperature much, if at all.

Professor Gene Wengert is Extension Specialist in Wood Processing at the Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Click on Wood Doctor Archives to peruse past answers.

If you would like to obtain a copy of "The Wood Doctor's Rx", visit the Wood Education and Resource Center Web site for more information.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Lumber & Plywood: Storage

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: Air Drying Lumber

  • KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering: Wood Properties

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2020 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article