Retired Cabinet Maker wants drier timber

Hi, I am a retired Cabinet Maker in North East England. I still produce items of furniture for friends and family using a variety of timber species.
I have had for many years, issues with the %MC of materials from the various suppliers. I struggle to get timber anywhere near single digit %MC that furniture making requires and I end up with remedial work, correcting what is sometimes significant shrinkage. I produce in the workshop and ‘second season’ in my home for usually a 4 week period and then embark on the always necessary remedial work which is infuriating to say the least.

  • Do you have similar problems?
  • Have you the luxury of space in a warm workshop to aid drying?
  • Do you have a supplier who can supply reasonably seasoned materials at a single digit %MC?

Any tips or suggestions gratefully received.


Alan Mee  


Hi Alan,
No, we work with stuff that is 12-15%, we know all our stuff will shrink on leaving us and the design has to allow for that. As the worksop is warm we generally send it out at about 12% we fit drawers tight and expect solid wood to move . That’s the game…
David Savage


Hi David,

Thanks very much for the response which is much appreciated.

I do believe however, the the timber industry should move into the 21st century and do as is done in the USA, season hardwoods to single digit %MC. This would give people like you and I a fighting chance with a stable piece of furniture.

I am in communication with Timber Research & Development Association (TRADA) and as the lead body, convince them of the necessity to ‘move with the times’.

If I hear anything positive from them, I will forward the information to you.

Best wishes

Alan Mee


Hi Alan
I am not sure that that would help. We use a lot of American kilned timber maple, cherry and walnut . Most is dried within an inch of its life, down to 2%. It takes all the life out of the wood and makes it much more difficult to hand work with a blade.  Another problem is the stress this puts into the stuff. Kilned in stress that unwinds on first machining.

I wish I could just use air dry stuff and schedule the time to do it slowly, allowing it to dry naturally in the workshop to 12% then design it so that we know it will shrink a bit and that’s ok no remedial work.
Happy witting Alan
David Savage


David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

Looking for our woodworking courses? is the new home of Rowden Atelier Fine Woodworking School.

It is where you will now find all the information about our renowned fine woodworking courses, our ethos, and why our students go on to do so many great things. This site remains dedicated to the designs and work, of Rowden’s Founder; David Savage. If you are looking for our woodworking courses, please click here.