Drying Your Own Wood

 Anyone involved in woodworking knows that quality takes time. The same thing true of drying the wood we use. Drying wood quickly is great for lumber in house and commercial construction projects, but not so great for lumber for fine woodworking.

The reason for drying wood is to produce a stable wood, with reduced cracking, and increased strength. The problem with drying wood is that it "moves", that is it warps, twists, bends and generally wants to contort in anything but a straight piece of wood, and each species has it's own unique characteristics.

Read more: Drying Your Own Wood

Underwater Logging with ''Sawfish''

"Underwater logging is nothing new, but Triton Logging adds a whole new dimension to the term. Many of us in the woodworking community are familiar with the fact that trees that float in water for long periods of time become water-logged and sink to the bottom, and some people have found ways to recover these trees, dry them out and turn them into lumber.

Now I want you to think about this ... according to some sources there are over 45,000 large and 800,000 small dams world-wide. In order to create these dams it is estimated that over 2 million high quality trees have been flooded with no possible way of harvesting this otherwise lost resource. Enter Triton Logging and their solution."

To read the full article , click "read more" below.

Harvesting trees from the bottom of lakes takes a certain expertise, not to mention some specialized equipment. If all you had to do was pick up logs, this would be somewhat simple, but when the trees are still standing and you have to actually cut them down, then raise them there is a whole new set of capabilities required. The answer to this complex problem was to design an underwater vehicle that could not only cut down trees but also send or bring them to the surface. For this task Triton Logging invented what they call the "The Sawfish" an ROV (remote operated vehicle) that is controlled by what is essentially an intelligent umbilical cord or tether, probably not unlike one of the game controllers for video games..

 The Sawfish, which is the heart of the solution, receives power and air from a barge, floating nearby. The Sawfish also has attached eight video cameras so that the operator can see exactly what is going on at all times, and from different angles. Just prior to cutting a tree, and air bag is attached to the trunk. When the tree is cut, the air bag is inflated and the tree is pulled to the surface where they are then collected and towed to a sort and recovery area. It would seem that a waterlogged tree would have an enormous weight, and it does - - out of the water - - but while in the water, the water in the log is displaced by the water around the log so the only real weight is that of the actual wood. It is this phenomenon that allows the air bag to be able to lift the tree to the surface.

One of the questions I wondered about was water and it's association with wood rot. Why doesn't the wood just rot. Well the quick answer is, it does, but very, very slowly because wood needs two things in order to rot, bacteria and oxygen. Under the cold waterw there is not a lot of either of these components, so underwater wood rot, especially in temperate climates takes a long time, often centuries. The other element that can destroy wood, or in some case enhance it depending on the degree of invasion are various worms and insects that can bore into the wood, again these elements are quite lacking which means logs can lie in the water for decades and more and still be as valuable as they were when they were alive.

 Great job to Chris Godsall, President and CEO of Triton Logging  for enabling an environmentally , conservation friendly way of using our exiting resources. As all of you know, we at Woodworkweb are very conservation and environmentally friendly conscious, that is why we have provided the WARP information and processes you can find on the link at the top of this page.




Copyright - Colin Knecht


Wood Moisture Meters

The moisture content of wood is a topic that many woodworkers don't know a lot about. Most assume that if they are working with kiln dried wood that came from a wood supplier somewhere in their area that the moisture content of the wood is around 6 to 9%, which it probably is, or at least was at some point. A moisture content of 9%, for many woodworkers, is considered to be "ideal" for furniture and most other woodworking projects. Ah ... not necessarily so.

First of all a question. What is the ideal moisture content for hardwoods for woodworking projects?

The answer is more complicated than a simple number like 6% or 12%. First of all a bit of background. The moisture content of wood is something called EMC (Equilibrum Moisture Content). What this means is that where ever wood stored, it will absorb or expel the amount of moisture it needs be equal to its environment. This means that if you live is Seattle and bring home a piece of wood from your wood store where it was kiln dried to 6% moisture content, if you store this wood outside in a covered shed (not open to the weather) this piece of wood will likely absorb another 6% of moisture and will be come "stable to its current environment" when the moisture content reaches 12%. If you stored this lumber inside your home with lower relative humidity and higher temperature, chance are it will not absorb as much moisture and will probably stabilize to something closer to around 9%. Now if you live in the mid west and store this lumber in home where the temperature in you home is still around 70 degrees but the relative humidity is like 10% (because it is so dry) this wood will like stay around 6% EMC.

Any woodworker who makes furniture, and wants it to stay together, and the finish to remain stable on it, NEEDS to know what the moisture content of the wood they are using. It's fundamental to woodworking. There are many different moisture meters on the market, but the pinless, such as shown below, although a bit more in cost, is an excellent tool for the workshop, and can be taken to the lumber store to check moisture content of lumber purchases, without fear of poking holes in new lumber.

moisture meter

Click the image to read more, or to order your own Moisture Meter from Amazon

So, lets get back to the answer of our question. The real answer of the question is, "what is the environment that the project will be stored or used in". If it is a piece of furniture and you live in Arizona where the ambient temperature is around 70 degrees and the relative humidity in your home is around 20%, then the ideal moisture content for wood is actually closer to around 5%.

The cells within every piece of wood are constantly in state of absorbing or expeling moisture in order for the wood to "stabilize" within its existing environment. As woodworkers, once we know this we can begin to compensate for the expansion and contractions of wood.
Wood expands and contracts almost entirely on its tangential and radial direction almost nothing along its longitudinal direction. This means most typical "boards" will expand and contract through their width and depth and almost nothing in their length. The amount they expand and contract depends on the environment they are stored and used in. We can slow down the process of expansion and contraction by sealing the edge grain, but we cannot stop it. 

If you have a moisture meter like a you can check your own wood to see what it's moisture content is then use that information to plan your project more effectively. This way you can allow for future expansion and contraction by now knowing which direction the wood will flow in and what you can do compensate for.

copyright - Colin Knecht

Part 1 - Where Wood Cuts Come From, and Where to Use Them

  Purchasing wood can get very expensive and if you are not sure what you are buying it can be more than a bit intimidating. When you are standing in front of thousands of board feet of wood, all priced differently and you don't know exactly what to choose, this should be your clue it's time to understand wood cuts. Wouldn't it be nice to walk in to your lumber store and know what kinds of boards you need before you arrive, or at least have some idea of the different cuts and why they differ. Here is you will find these answers.

You have probably heard the term "quarter-sawn", which is often referred to as the "best cut" of wood. Well, quarter-sawn is one of the terminologies but it is not always the best cut as you will see in Part 2. The other cuts of wood are called Rift-sawn and Flat-sawn and all depend from where in the tree the boards are cut.

In order to identify which cut of wood has come from what part of the log, it is necessary to look at the end grain of the board. This is because some Rift-sawn and some Quarter-sawn can look the same on the face side of the board.

Before we get too deep into the different cuts, we should take a moment to consider one other factor of wood cuts, and those are the "rays". Rays are those fine lines that seem to radiate from the center of the tree, almost like the spokes of a wheel. The purpose of the rays is help transfer food and water and oxygen within the tree. In some woods and species, rays are easy to spot in others they are hard to see. The problems with rays is that they can often be point where boards crack, especially as they dry. For this reason it is critical that the ends of ALL boards, especially green wood, is sealed to encourage the moisture in the wood to evaporate through the sides of the boards and not through the ends. Wood wants to dry through the ends because that is the easiest way for water to escape because wood is build like a bunch of tiny soda straws all fastened together. When you block the ends of the soda straws water takes much longer to dissipate, therefore there is less twisting and movement in the wood.

Flat-Sawn boards are cut from the log where the growth rings of the tree are stacked on top of one another, and are basically parallel to wide faces of the board.. One of the advantages of this type of cut is the beautiful grain structure which causes "cathedrals", that are visually appealing to many projects, especially those where large panels of wood are exposed.

Rift-sawn boards are those that lie between flat and quarter-sawn cuts. The rift-sawn boards will appear that growth rings will be a little wider than those of quarter-sawn, because of the angle of the cut. The ring pattern of the wood will be at a diagonal across the edge of the board as you can see in the diagrams. Rift and quarter boards will show only straight lines across the face of the boards.

Quarter-sawn boards, as you can see from the diagrams, are cuts from the log where the rings are stacked vertically to one another. These cuts, as with those of any Rift-sawn boards will not show the beautiful cathedrals as a flat-sawn board would .

Be sure to read Part 2 of this article to understand the advantages and dis-advantages of these types of cuts and how you can make them work for you in your woodworking projects.


copyright - Colin Knecht