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Author Topic: Do you use a moisture meter?  (Read 3192 times)

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Offline garret

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #20 on: October 13, 2014, 11:52:36 AM »
Purchased a cheap moisture meter (General model MMD4E) for around $30.  It has become my latest obsession with all the talk regarding gasifier-type OWBs and compromised performance when using high moisture content wood.  I understand these meters are not research grade instruments, but they do appear to provide reasonable reproducibility of measurements.   Tested my 2 YO oak in woodshed by splitting randomly selected pieces and immediately inserting pins of meter and it's between 10 and 12%. Just for reference, the furniture in my house comes in around 6%.  EAB killed standing dead (ash) freshly split can be 50% close to the stump, and as low as 20% higher up.  Likewise, heartwood lower than newer growth areas.  Same ash split no larger than 6" on a side and drying for only 3 months under cover is already just under 16%.  Of course, we have had lower humidity than usual in SW PA.  I am currently burning this ash in an E-2400 (gasifier).  It works great and the fire hasn't gone out since early Sept. despite lower demand (mostly DHW).
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Offline CTYank

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2014, 07:53:09 PM »
About the resplit first, then check the MC thing, 'taint necessarily so.

I've found no material difference between MC reading taken on a "hidden" face (far from sunlight) of a split and an interior face freshly exposed by resplitting it.

Not a fan of pseudo-precision or over-thinking, anyway.

One good indicator of drying progress: checking increases progressively on an exposed end, as the exposed end dries more than the interior, and shrinks. As the interior wood dries & shrinks, the checking on the exposed end CLOSES. Some 3+ y.o. sugar maple here now has checking that's almost invisible. Really prime stuff.
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Online John Mc

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #22 on: October 14, 2014, 07:59:56 PM »
My wood went from 54% to 27% in six weeks/month and a half. So
you are saying that my wood will not drop another 7% from First week September to the first week November?

From fresh cut, most wood dries fairly easily ad quickly until it gets down to the fiber saturation point (If I'm remembering my terminology correctly). Getting below that takes a bit more doing. If I recall, most species fiber saturation point is around 30% (can be a bit higher or lower depending on the species). 

So if you are at 27%, you've basically driven off the free water and maybe a little bit more. What's left is the water bound in the cell walls. It takes a bit more doing to drive that moisture off.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline 32vld

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2014, 09:23:52 AM »

From fresh cut, most wood dries fairly easily ad quickly until it gets down to the fiber saturation point (If I'm remembering my terminology correctly). Getting below that takes a bit more doing. If I recall, most species fiber saturation point is around 30% (can be a bit higher or lower depending on the species). 

So if you are at 27%, you've basically driven off the free water and maybe a little bit more. What's left is the water bound in the cell walls. It takes a bit more doing to drive that moisture off.

I was guessing that this was the case. Though I am still new enough to this to still have a lot of enthusiasm. With a moisture meter to entertain me.

Offline Yatt

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2014, 07:29:29 PM »
My wood went from 54% to 27% in six weeks/month and a half. So
you are saying that my wood will not drop another 7% from First week September to the first week November?

From fresh cut, most wood dries fairly easily ad quickly until it gets down to the fiber saturation point (If I'm remembering my terminology correctly). Getting below that takes a bit more doing. If I recall, most species fiber saturation point is around 30% (can be a bit higher or lower depending on the species). 

So if you are at 27%, you've basically driven off the free water and maybe a little bit more. What's left is the water bound in the cell walls. It takes a bit more doing to drive that moisture off.

I agree.  The moisture drops fast at first, then goes a whole lot slower.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2014, 08:25:48 PM »
IIRC, no moisture meter is accurate above about 30% MC (or the fiber saturation point). So likely the reading of 54% was closer to 30, but the important thing will be those numbers below the 27% and how fast they drop.

One could monitor several blocks of wood by numbering them and recording their weight. Then after a couple weeks, weigh them again and split one block open for a MC reading. Weigh each split and record weight and MC.
Then in a couple weeks, weigh them all again, split another one, take MC reading etc. etc.
Chart the weights as well as the MC readings and see the relationship between weight loss and MC (assuming the MC meter and placement of probes is close to being accurate and right).

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Offline ashtree

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2014, 09:51:35 PM »
Was reading this post and appreciate the info. As most of you know cracked end caps with discoloration, and along with a MM you can't go wrong. I am a chimney sweep by trade and unseasoned moisture laden wood is bad for BTUs and flues. Combustion temps/gases can't get up fully aids in creosote adhering to flues. That along with damping it down too low at night guarantees creosote formation. So after every cord or two have it swept, if you shine a light up your flue or in your stove and it shines back you have a problem.

Offline delgra

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #27 on: October 23, 2014, 08:05:19 PM »
I only use the meter when customers say "is it dry?" I say anything below 12 is good to go.  Real hardwood hisses too much around 20 but soft is kinda ok. I usually split an average block in front of the buyer and let them see for themselves.

Offline 32vld

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #28 on: October 31, 2014, 10:22:33 PM »
I started splitting fresh cut wood July 16th. Mostly Red Oak. I split the wood and get mostly 3"x4" pieces.

Wondering how long it would take for the moisture to drop I bought a low cost moisture meter. The Oak had a 54% moisture reading when it was first split.

First week of September I re split a piece of Red Oak and the moisture was at 27%. Reading always taken from along from the fresh split face. Not from the end.

It seems the first of my wood will be ready to burn this winter. Though we have to see how weather, temperature, and less daylight effect the drying as the year goes on. I think the wood split in September will dry slower and as the Fall moves forward the wood split in October should take longer. Looking forward to see the moisture meter readings through the Fall and Winter.

My wood gets stack 4' high 8' long and in a single row of 16" +/- . With about 32" between the rows so I can pass through with a wheel barrow and to allow plenty of air flow between the rows. Also when it rains the cover goes over the pile. No rain the cover is taken off.




I wanted to do this on November 1st though the weather forecast is for rain tonight and tomorrow so I re-split another piece of Red Oak this afternoon/Oct 31.

Then I used my moisture meter and the wood was 20% on a newly exposed face and 22% on the other newly exposed face. The moisture measure two months ago was 27%.

Online John Mc

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2014, 10:27:00 PM »
You must have some pretty good drying conditions. That's pretty quick for Red Oak - it tends to take longer to dry than some species.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Online Firewoodjoe

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2014, 06:07:26 AM »
My experience in selling wood is 6-8 months and it's pretty good. Like said before it's hard to get that last bit out. Most people thinks it takes 1-2 years and it just doesn't.

Online John Mc

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #31 on: November 01, 2014, 08:18:39 AM »
I've had good luck getting wood to dry down below 20% MC in 6 months or so (typically down to around 13%, which burns very nicely), IF it's split stacked and stored properly (and exposed to sun and wind -- if I stack it in the forest, it takes a lot longer to dry that last bit).  This works pretty reliably for me if the 6 months includes the summer months.

I've not had much luck getting Red Oak to dry that quickly. I'm sure drying time also varies depending on what part of the country you are in. Summers are short here.



If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline bandmiller2

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2014, 08:42:53 AM »
My homebuilt outside furnace has an all masonry firebox and burns vicous hot,  give or take a few percent makes little difference. I try to cut a year ahead, if I owned one of those fancy furnaces I'd probably be more fussy. Frank C.
A man armed with common sense is packing a big piece

Offline 32vld

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2014, 04:24:51 PM »
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You must have some pretty good drying conditions. That's pretty quick for Red Oak - it tends to take longer to dry than some species.

My wood is stacked at the back of my yard on the grass. The last 25' of the property has some large trees. Four of those trees are large oaks. Though all the branches are high. So plenty of air gets through the wood piles. And, enough light to get the grass to grow slow. So this is not a wood pile drying in the woods.

I also stack the wood in a single row that is 8' L, 4' H, 16"+- splits with 32" space between the rows so I can a wheel barrow through them and be able to walk through with the back pack leaf blower get rid of the leaves.

When it rains the wood and the ground between the rows is covered with a tarp so the wood and the ground underneath and next to the wood is kept dry.

Next day after the rain the tarp comes off so maximum sun and air can get to the wood. And stays off till the next rain/snow fall.

Offline kevin19343

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #34 on: November 01, 2014, 06:36:26 PM »
I do a lot of woodworking and a moisture meter is useful when gluing up random boards , but it's not needed for firewood.
 Over time you can judge if the wood is dry enough to burn from the way it looks, its weight, and the sound it makes when you knock on it.

Dull thud=wait
ping=use it

Online John Mc

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Re: Do you use a moisture meter?
« Reply #35 on: November 01, 2014, 09:18:31 PM »
I do a lot of woodworking and a moisture meter is useful when gluing up random boards , but it's not needed for firewood.
 Over time you can judge if the wood is dry enough to burn from the way it looks, its weight, and the sound it makes when you knock on it.

Dull thud=wait
ping=use it

Yep - well dried hardwood reminds me of the sound of bowling pins being knocked.

I do agree... once you get used to it, there is little need for a moisture meter for firewood (except maybe to show the occasional skeptical customer that it is, in fact, ready to burn). I did find it helpful when I was first getting in to heating with wood, until I "calibrated my senses".
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow


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