Q & A: Can I Air-Dry Wood Indoors?

PWE150621_QA600pxQ. I have some cherry that’s been dried outside for two years. Can I finish the drying process indoors?

A. Yes, you can. Even if your wood has been drying in Uncle Joe’s barn for the past 100 years, the moisture content (MC) will be more than 15 percent. What you need is a MC of about 8 percent.

You can air-dry 4/4 lumber indoors from 15 percent to 8 percent in a single heating season. Remember, you don’t have to bring in the whole stack at once. Just bring in enough to satisfy your needs for the coming year. I’ve had small stacks of wood drying in the attic, the basement and the garage. (In my experience, don’t even think about the living room!)

If your basement is a bit damp in the summer, you can try running a dehumidifier or wait for winter when the basement is drier. If the wood seems to be drying too slowly, boost the airflow by directing a fan or two at the pile.

Finally, buy an inexpensive moisture meter so you can tell exactly when your wood is ready to use.

3 thoughts on “Q & A: Can I Air-Dry Wood Indoors?

  1. Gunner59

    Given the arrangement shown in the photo, about how long should it take to get wood from 15% down to the recommended 8%? The article refers to a single heating season. Is that three, four or six months? I’m sure the ambient humidity is a big factor. I’m trying to get a ballpark of how far in advance I would need to start the process before I can expect to have something I can work with.

  2. mulcairn

    Here in the tropics I have additional problems. My workshop space is usually around 15-30C and 60-90% humidity. I have had to build a solar kiln to drive the moisture level down. On the other hand the final resting place for my furniture may not be the low 8% that others are targeting. So I target 15% as the best moisture level to begin work. Yes I do get warping of finished parts and I need to make additional pieces and let them stand for a week before proceeding.

  3. 8iowa

    Here in Michigan’s U.P. I have a lot of WoodMizer sawn lumber. Immediately after it’s cut I stack it with “stickers” outside next to the “Workshop in the Woods”. To protect against the heavy snows I cover it with a tarp.

    Usually the next year (sometimes two years) I move it up into the loft of the workshop for another year. The inside climate is very dry, especially in the Winter. This does the job nicely.

    Interestingly, I often go the my local “big box” where I search thru the stack of 2×4’s for the straightest and best boards. After a Winter of drying in the loft, some of them warp quite a bit, an indication that you cant trust “big box” lumber, and certainly should not cut it and use it in projects immediately after purchase.

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