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Results of my wood drying experiment

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by ScottF, Nov 6, 2008.

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  1. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    OK here are the results of my wood drying experiment for this year. I was actually quite surprised at what i found. No opinions here but just the facts I found.

    3 different methods or non methods of drying. All the same batch of wood which was all mostly oak.

    All splitting was done in April of 2008 , All trees cut in April of 2008. Live in South NH and we had a very wet summer and drying season. All moisture testing done the end of October 2008

    Pile #one was split and stacked on pallets 3 rows wide,. There was no air space between the 3 rows. It was not in the sun and not in a particularly windy or breezy area. On top of the piles I put 7 mil white plastic (which I always understood to be a no no). Just the tops and not the sides . All of my splits were average 8" thick or less. This pile measured and average of 17 percent moisture on the moisture meter . I checked the moisture by splitting and measuring the interior of the 6 to 7 inch splits.

    Pile #2 was exactly the same as pile 1 but not covered at all. This pile measured and average of 18 percent moisture on the moisture meter

    The third was not really an experiment but just the left over rounds that I did not split. The unsplit rounds measured anywhere from 35 to 40 percent moisture.

    This just goes to show me that covering doesn't really make that much of a difference at all. I tested many samples from all sections of the pile and had pretty consistent results. It also goes to show me that even difficult to dry woods can dry to be ready to burn by winter if split in early spring. I am very surprised at these results with the rainy season we had.

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  2. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Interesting numbers. Kind of goes along with the way anecdotal evidence has always appeared to me. I've never really worried with covering the pile. It's always seemed like rain water never really 'soaks' the wood and as soon as the rain dries up, you're back to seasoning. Plus when it's raining the air is at 100% RH, so I would think that even wood which is covered isn't really 'drying'. Either way, (covered or uncovered) you're basically out of commission while it's raining - but soon after, the wood will start drying once again. I do cover the pile outside the family room which is for short term storage - rain or snow falling on that can make for a big mess and soggy wood in the short term.

    I am a bit surprised that the non-split rounds were still so high in moisture. I'm guessing they were stored in a normal 'horizontal' manner with both ends exposed to the air, not with one end flat on the ground like a stump? Several times I've cut hedge, oak, locust, etc in the spring - been able to cut the wood into stove lengths - but not been able to split until the fall. I've always found it to be plenty dry in the fall. I'm working through some oak right now that has been on the ground cut, but not split for a year. It's pretty dry inside. I'd have to stick it with the meter, but can't believe it is over 20%MC.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to run the experiment and post the results!
  3. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I'm happy to hear that someone in my neighborhood dried oak split in the spring. 17-18% is really perfect stuff, and it sounds like you didn't split really thin either.

    My piles have been covered since early Oct- only because I don't want rain moisture on them if needed.
  4. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Speaking of 'sperments- whatever happened to Apprentice GM?
  5. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    Cozyheat, Some of the unsplit stuff was stacked like a stump and others were horizontal, thats probably why I got very different moisture readings but most were high.

    AP. No it wasnt split real thin, probably just average. anywhere from 5 inches thick to 8 inches thick. I like to have all different size splits so I can stuff my stove to the hilts. Being a 1904 smoke dragon it burns down in about 3 hours . Not real air tight. And yes it is perfect stuff. I have been burning it this year and it burns wonderful. I was very surpised that it seasoned so fast this year with the summer we had. Especially being red oak which is known for taking so long to season. It burns as good as the stuff that has been split for several years. I posted because I was so surprised.

    Berraco. I am unfamiliar with the vertical pyramid stack, Is that just what it sounds like. Stacking in a pyramid shape? I can try next year If someone learns me how????
  6. ClydesdaleBurner

    ClydesdaleBurner Member

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    What type of moisture meter did you use? Sounded like you did a very thorough experiment. Did you use a good meter? What is a good moisture meter?


    Thanks
  7. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    I think it was a Wagner, It is a very expensive digital one. Probably around $200 I dont recommend you need one like it for measuring fire wood. I use it for my furnituremaking and hardwood purchasing for furniture. Somebody else can answer this question better than me. There are alot of smart people here that will be along to better answer which one to buy.
  8. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    That's good to know Scott...thanks for the report. Never burned Oak but was told it took 2 years to season but it sounds to me like your oak is good to burn now.
  9. 11 Bravo

    11 Bravo New Member

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    I had similar results. We cut down live red oak, red elm, cherry, and unknown variety of maple on May 1st. Had it split and stacked by May 3rd. Some was stacked in premium drying conditions on open ground, full sun all day, breezy farmfield. The rest was in space next to my drive, woodsy area, full sun most of the day, area that does not get as much wind due to the forest. All went uncovered. Resplit some of each variety from each stack. It all started at 30-39% on the meter. All of it is now 14-19%.........
  10. deadon

    deadon New Member

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    My wood was cut 3 years ago when the property was timbered and left to lay. I received permission to cut it so it has been cut, split, stacked covered since early summer. I do not have a meter but it burns very well. I have some that is a little younger and plan to use next year. I have about 25 cord cut and keep it covered. My plan is to cut and remove as much as possible before it rots just laying in the woods. How long will it keep if cut split and stacked. Is in better to cover or not for storing several years? I began to cut in six foot logs to stack and cover then cut as needed in the future, will this keep better? From what I have been reading is should invest in a meter. What is the cost for a good one?
  11. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I've never been able to get Oak to dry out that fast and I've tried everything, straight stacks covered, uncovered, holz, or just a plain old thrown pile. It always takes 1.5-2 years to get it under 20%. I guess not all Oak is the same?

    How is that old stove burning? Does it hold any coals with that grate? Can you get an overnight burn? Do you monitor the stove temps?
  12. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Define 'good'. For an inexpensive meter, 10 to 30 dollars or so. Harbor Freight has a low end model for 15 dollars all the time. Catch a good coupon or sale and you can get it for 10 dollars like I did. Or for a few more dollars, one with a digital display. Around 30 dollars every day. All low end stuff, though.
  13. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    i have not had oak dry either.. i believe him but i believe there must be something else..maybe a constant light breeze or his splits are so small
    i have had oak sitting split since last nov and the outside is less than 20 but when i split it again and check it brings tears from pain to my eyes as its not ready to burn
    seeing he is in the same general area as me i am jealous but good for him if it is actually that low though the whole piece
  14. hilly

    hilly Feeling the Heat

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    This year I stacked fir (softwood) in a direction that was perpendicular to what I normally do and I found, even with that small change, that it was not ready to burn after a few months. For the past two years, I have been able to get very dry wood that is cut and split in spring dry by fall, but this one small change had a very large effect on the moisture content of my wood.

    I suspect that the row of wood was parallel with the prevailing wind instead of perpendicular to it. It goes to show how much impact one variable can have on the drying time of wood.
  15. d.n.f.

    d.n.f. New Member

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    All my wood this year was cut from trees harvested this year and stacked unbucked in a pile. Cut down and stacked in May. I bucked and cut 90% of it over June/July. I bucked the remaining last month.
    Moisture meter on the June/July pine/fir reads 20-23% (well three weeks ago). Stuff that was in rounds and bucked last month read 25-35%. Some of the white pine actually sprayed out moisture when I split it.
    Most people out my way don't start getting wood till late Sept/Oct. They only take dead standing. There is no way it will be dry.

    Next year I will get this done earlier and start to cut more than I need to store in the imaginary wood shed that is not there yet.

    Interesting about the covered/uncovered. I uncover until late fall when the rains start. Really windy here though.
  16. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    Hi Todd, Old stove burns great. It is a little leaky but we are able to control the burn quite nice by using the flue damper. Without it we would be sunk and it would overfire. It is an old coal stove so the steel wood grate goes over the coal shaker grates. It does hold coals quite nicely. As a matter of fact is one of the issues is that the hot coals build up so deep they fill the entire hopper. We have to ,once a day, open the air and flue damper and let them burn down, otherwise they fill to the loading door. We can get a few hours of 300 degrees just burning coals. We can get an overnight burn and wake up to at least 68 degree temps in our 3000 square foot house. In the morning it is all hot coals still. It puts out tons of heat and goes about 3 hours until the wood is all red hot coals. We do monitor stove temps and it tends to burn nice around 400 to 500 degrees. It works quite nice for something so old. Maybe we burn a little more wood than a modern stove but we have a big lot and it is all free. I imagine a new one might have a little more efficiency but I don't need it and there is no comparison in craftsmanship or looks. Overall I recommend an old stove if it is built as well as this one. :)
  17. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    Now you need to duplicate those experiments across several decades to account for local weather patterns on the results.

    To further this experiment, locations beyond your own back yard would be adventageous also.


    :)


    What was the moisture content before the tree was cut down so we can also know the Winter weather affects preceding the experiment ?


    Didn't you have drought weather in betweeen the rainy weather ?
  18. btj1031

    btj1031 New Member

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    Thanks for the info. I'm in your neighborhood, wood was split and stacked in April on pallets in a not-so-sunny spot, and not covered until recently. Sounds exactly like pile #2. I was curious about the moisture content, but not enough so to buy a meter. I figure I'm going to be burning it if its perfect or not. Next year I'll get the wood into a sunnier spot.
  19. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    No drought per se- just a less rainy period. It was one of the wettest summers that I can remember
  20. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Good to hear it's working so well for you. Years ago I refurbished an old pot belly but never burned it. I wish I had, I ended up selling it to a couple that just wanted it for decoration.
  21. Prada

    Prada Member

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    Hi.....First time poster here but the subject interested me. We bought our first stove in the middle of this last winter and we were not prepared at all with seasoned wood. There was a guy that worked for a tree service that said he had cut down some white oak tree's in the spring but they were not cut or split yet. We were worried but didn't have much of a choice. He cut and split them for us and brought them out and from the advice that I had read on here about buying a Moisture Meter, we took a reading on it. They were all BELOW 20% moisture. After reading so many post's here saying oak takes so long, it really just floored us but it burned fine and we checked the chimney periodically for creasol and it stayed clean.
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