With the Grain News – July 2016
A Lesson Learned: Moisture Level Matters
David Anderson discovered early on that anyone seriously interested in woodworking has to learn that wood moves as the humidity changes. He knows that when he makes a solid wood dining table and puts it in a customer’s home, it’s going to expand and contract with the seasons. So creating designs that respect that property and making sure the wood is at the proper moisture level during construction is critical.
He recalls the time back in the ‘70s when one of his earliest commission pieces was a dining table.
“The classic error on a dining table is to glue boards together edge to edge and then put a piece across the end with the grain running at 90°. The length of the board that goes across the end won’t change. But the width of the other boards will.
“So I delivered the finished table to these people’s home and they were very happy with it. Several weeks later they called me. The end board fell off and had come loose. I brought it back to my shop and glued the end back on and added some extra pieces to hold the end on securely but not allow for grain expansion. Ten years later, they told me the table had cracked or ‘antiqued itself.’ I learned this lesson the hard way, and fortunately with forgiving customers.”
For that reason, he believes a moisture meter is critical when working with wood.
“I have a Wagner pinless meter. It’s my go-to tool and the first thing I grab when I’m handling lumber. It’s very easy-to-use. You just slide it across the surface and quickly get an average reading for the board’s moisture content.
“Another plus is you never have to worry about putting holes in the wood. That’s a clear advantage,” he says.
When his original woodshop, formerly an agricultural pole barn, caught fire a few years ago, he thought his Wagner meter was a goner.
“The meter comes in a real heavy-duty nylon pouch with a belt clip on it. It was sitting on a bench inside my shop when the fire broke out. Although the fire didn’t last long, maybe 15 minutes or so, it badly scorched the pouch. But the meter wasn’t damaged at all. It still works fine,” he says.
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Wagner Meters will again be participating at the biennial International Woodworking Fair (IWF), one of the premier trade shows in the wood products industry scheduled for August 24 – 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. Wagner Meters is proud to join this event and feature its state-of-the-art moisture measurement systems and handheld moisture measurement instrumentation.
Visit Us at Booth #1306
326 Pine Grove Road
Rogue River, Oregon 97537