Wood: Dry, dryer, driest

300 Words - Posted on 22nd April 2018

wood stack

Dry, dryer, driest

We’ve noticed recently that wood that has been coming to Rowden, and to our own workshop, has had noticeably variable moisture content. This is most noticeable when it relates to native species and very small woodyards, though even the largest yards can throw in the odd duff damp board.

Now this is not a problem, unless you’re in a massive hurry. And if you’re in a massive hurry then maybe you should look at your project planning! Most good workshops have a small kiln or at least access to one, just in case wood arrives a little on the wet side.

Ideally for domestic furniture, wood should have a moisture content between 6%-10%, though we have had no problem with wood with a moisture content under 12%. One of the things you have to be careful of with thick boards, say 3” or more, is that the moisture content in the centre of the board is significantly different to that at the surface. 

It doesn’t happen very often, but this is usually the result of a hasty drying process and poor supervision of the process by the yard involved. If it does happen we have always made a point of letting them know. Best to keep ‘em on their toes!

Any wood with a moisture content over, say, 14% should be allowed to dry before being machined. Quite often if it is simply left in a warm dry workshop for a period that is enough. If the boards are large and you’re in a bit of a hurry, then time in a kiln is the best way forward. Done correctly, this will do the wood no harm and give you a material you can trust when it comes to making furniture.

Until next time,


Lakshmi Bhaskaran

Writer at Rowden Atelier
Lakshmi Bhaskaran studied at the Rowden Atelier in 2008, following on from a successful career as a design writer and author. It was at Rowden that she met her husband and business partner, Jonathan Walter. The pair set up Bark Furniture in 2010 and now run a successful furniture business, based in Cornwall, with clients all around the world. Lakshmi has written for renowned publications like Wallpaper, and has authored five books in the design area.
Lakshmi Bhaskaran

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Categories: A Makers Year

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