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Author Topic: Hand held moisture meter recommend?  (Read 817 times)

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Offline Brad_bb

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Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« on: January 07, 2018, 10:45:45 PM »
Been milling for 3 years and have never owned a moisture meter.  On a project now that I want to know the moisture level of my Ash as I'm sawing it so I know where I'm starting.  Each log will be different I think.  Is there a handheld moisture meter that is decent?  I'm assuming I want a pin type?  I see them from $40- $300.  Can I get the info I want with a $40 unit?  Do you need to indicate the wood species with hand held meters?  I've got a woodcraft and Rockler near me or I can order a meter online.  Thanks for your advice.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2018, 12:27:17 AM »
The pin meter or the common pinless meter cannot measure accurately above 30% MC.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2018, 06:30:53 AM »
Delmhorst J2000 accurate to 40%. They make an X version that is supposed to be accurate to 60%.
Forget $40 and think $400. Add more for X version. Very nice units though. Love mine.
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2018, 07:52:39 AM »
If you get the Delmhorst J2000X be sure to get the slide hammer.  You are looking at about $550.  Worth it if you fool with a lot of wood.  You have to set the species and temperature. 
Woodmizer LT40HDD35, John Deere 2155, Kubota M5640SU, Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln, and a passion for all things with leafs, twigs, and bark.  hamsleyhardwood.com

Offline Don P

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2018, 08:07:34 AM »
I run a Delmhorst boxed unit with the large slide hammer which can handle up to 3" insulated pins, handy for logs and timbers. Much above fiber saturation point and any of these are less and less accurate and weight is the way to go.

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2018, 12:28:05 PM »
The reason pin meters (they measure resistance and not moisture content) do not work above 30% MC with accuracy is not related to the meter or its construction, but is because the resistance of wood no longer is a reliable, single value correlation to MC.  That is, the same resistance can be two widely different MCs; or two widely different MCs can have the same resistance.  It might help to visualize that above 30% MC that there is liquid water in the wood in the hollow spaces of the cells.  This liquid, small or large (31% MC or 130% MC), essentially creates a short circuit when measuring resistance.

A similar scenario exists for the common pinless meter...a poor correlation between reactance and MC above 30% MC.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 10:27:10 AM »
Not to be argumentative, but does this mean Delmhorst is being overly optimistic at best, or deceitful and worst when the advertise accuracy to 40% on the 2000 model and 60% on the X model?

Or, is it just a matter that it's LESS accurate at those levels, but still a good approximation of actual MC?

Thanks Gene.
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
LT40HD Wide 35HP Diesel
Baker Portable Edger with Kubota Diesel
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WoodMizer KD250 Kiln

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 08:12:08 AM »
One can measure MC above 30% but the accuracy above 30% is not the "within 1/2% MC" that is present under 30% MC, which we obtain when temperature and species adjustments are made.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 10:21:27 AM »
Again, not to be argumentative, is 1/2% really enough to be considered "not accurate enough"? I realize some problematic species require strict/stringent schedules, yet I'd think that simply making a slight correction for the 1/2% variance would suffice.

Thoughts?
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
LT40HD Wide 35HP Diesel
Baker Portable Edger with Kubota Diesel
Kubota M62 Tractor/Backhoe
WoodMizer KD250 Kiln

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 02:34:28 PM »
Indeed, 1/2% MC when under 30% MC is ok for most or maybe all people.  However, the initial question was about 40% and 60% MC readings.  The error can be 10% or 20% MC or more at times.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2018, 01:23:51 PM »
Back to my original question.... I don't care if it's not accurate above 30% because I'll just consider that "wet".  For my current project I need to know when my Ash is in the 12%-15% range as it will be used in a barn in ambient conditions.  At that moisture content, it shouldn't move much after that hopefully.  It would also be nice to measure wood stored in my dry heated shop down to 6%.  After I've air dried it and then I'll bring it inside and measure over a number of months to know when it's low enough to use.  It' for my own use, not a business.  I was hoping a $40 or so meter would be good enough to tell me what I want to know.  If so I was hoping for a recommendation.  This is what I need input on.
Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
If I say it\\\\\\\'s going to take so long, multiply that by at least 3!

Online YellowHammer

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2018, 01:06:14 AM »
I bought a $30 moisture meter from a big box store.  It was garbage.  I could have used my Ohm meter (Digital DVM) and done better.

I could do better by feel with my hands.

Then I bought a $120 moisture meter, it was as unreliable as the $30 one.  So I did the only reasonable thing and bought a second just like it. ::). Both read differently, and I ended throwing them both into the garbage can. 

Then I bought a Delmorst off Amazon.  Been buying them ever since.

If you get a cheap one, keep the receipt. 
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Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2018, 07:44:07 AM »
Good words of wisdom for sure. It's kinda like this: either buy a good one, or use an oven and weigh it. Other than that, it's gambling.

I have two good pinless and a good pin meter. Don't regret the expenditure on any of them. The Delmhort J2000 with the long pins hammer, is the most accurate one of mine.
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
LT40HD Wide 35HP Diesel
Baker Portable Edger with Kubota Diesel
Kubota M62 Tractor/Backhoe
WoodMizer KD250 Kiln

Offline WDH

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2018, 08:03:15 AM »
Brad,

With all the wood that you are handling, especially the beams, the J2000 with the long pins and the slide hammer would be just right.  Outside you budget, though. 
Woodmizer LT40HDD35, John Deere 2155, Kubota M5640SU, Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln, and a passion for all things with leafs, twigs, and bark.  hamsleyhardwood.com

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2018, 08:35:18 AM »
will last for decades, so although expensive initially, it is worth the price...longevity and accuracy.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2018, 10:41:04 PM »
Thanks everybody.  WDH, I don't really care what the moisture content of the beams are.  We timberframe green of course.  Plus there will always be a gradient of moisture from the center to the outside.  The only thing I care about it for is this 2x ash so I can know if it's at ambient and therefore will not shrink or grow significantly.  5/4 boards are the other use, when I want to build a project and therefore want to know if the boards are dry enough.
Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2018, 02:50:48 PM »
I use this Wagner unit that I got from Wood-Mizer when I began sawing.  The newer ones are digital.
 

 
My original idea was to sell lumber and would probably need a moisture meter.  Of course I decided early on to forget selling and concentrate on sawing.  It does get used occasionally but the protective film is still on the meter face.   ;D
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Offline Don P

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2018, 05:44:31 PM »
Analog says experienced  ;D


Offline WDH

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2018, 08:10:24 PM »
It says "old"  :D
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Offline Don P

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Re: Hand held moisture meter recommend?
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2018, 08:36:18 PM »
Mine predates protective film  :D

really though, knocking 2 sticks together, listening and feeling is more accurate than a cheap meter because you'll abandon reason and trust the reading even when all your senses are telling you the meter is lying.

Going back to what PA was saying. We use a ~$100 digital scale with a 40 lb capacity for the farmers market that passes some pretty tight testing from the state every year. I have used it to test that we got dried medicinals to buyer specs. That wouldn't be good for fast checks though.


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