We all recognize the great things that timber has to offer and yet, we are unaware of how important its moisture content is. We usually expect that when we buy timber from any wood shop it is already in its tip-top shape to serve its purpose. What we need to know is that timber quickly absorbs moisture if it’s not properly stored. If we use such timber, then we run the risk of projects being ruined. The possible things that can happen are warping and splitting of wood. It may also be that they will shrink or shake even at the slightest movement.
How to Measure Moisture Content in Timber
The moisture content in timber is usually measured by the weight of water found in it as compared to its dry weight. Unfortunately, timber has the ability to absorb moisture greater than its dry weight which makes it susceptible to attack by dry rot spores which is normally regarded as green. When this happens, it is wise not to use the material for any construction project.
Things to Remember About Wet Timber
Every time the moisture content increases, the material is more likely to shrink.
The durability of timber is also affected with the rise of moisture content. If we put together two pieces of timber, if they both have moisture in them, their joint strength will can weaken by as much as 50%.
Splitting, moisture damaged timber
The Disadvantages of Not Properly Drying Timber
It is very important to properly dry timber to avoid defects:
Warping – the timber might curve along its edges. It may even form curves along its length. Cupping and twisting may also happen to the material. The former is characterized by the curving along its width and the latter is when a board twists along its length making it look like a propeller.
Splitting – splits usually appear at the end of the board and they go from one side of the timber to another. The board may also accumulate cracks on the surface which go right through the other side. We call it honeycombing when the cracks appear inside the timber and they only become visible once it is machined.
Case-hardening – this usually occurs when the timber is being dried quickly. When wood is dried in a swift process, what usually happens is that the outer surface is dried but the inner core is still wet. Timbers that are case-hardened may also cause damage to the machine.
The easiest way to ensure you are dealing with efficiently dried, quality timber, is to deal directly with a trusted milling company who can help you inspect timber and make an informed purchase.