Moisture issues in antique lumber

      Is salvaged wood from old barns dry enough to use as one would use kiln-dried lumber? August 23, 2000

My custom sawing business has taken some quirky but fun turns. I am now also salvaging old barns containing nice chestnut and oak lumber and timbers.

The materials so far seem to be bone dry. I am storing all stock in my garage and barn. I know I need a moisture meter. Is my assumption that this old lumber may not need additional drying off base? And if it does, are there special drying considerations for antique wood?

Are you going to make furniture or parts from this lumber that will wind up inside a home?

If so, you may have to do some additional drying. My guess is that that old lumber is going to be between 10 and 15 percent in moisture content (MC).

If this is the case, it's not quite ready for interior use, as it will wind up shrinking a bit.

There are special ways to handle this kind of lumber, i.e., getting it down to 6 to 8 percent MC in the kiln; doing so is fairly simple.

For about $200 you can get a good moisture meter. It is worth the small investment to assure the correct MC. (Cheaper models are not worth the money.) If the wood is accidentally too wet, will it cost more than $200 to fix it? Will you waste more than $200 of your time?

I agree that the present MC is probably between 10 to 12 percent in most cases. Plus, you might have some bugs in the lumber which would be killed when the material is kiln dried.
Gene Wengert, forum moderator

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: Primary Processing: Lumber Grading

  • 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 © 1996-2021 - 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