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Should I bust out the moisture meter before my delivery?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Cross Cut Saw, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. Cross Cut Saw

    Cross Cut Saw Feeling the Heat

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    I'm getting 2 cords of KILN dried wood dropped off tomorrow, should I bust out my axe and moisture meter so I can split a piece or two and confirm moisture % before he drops it in my driveway?

    I am paying a LOT of money for this wood...

    I'm thinking I will.
    ScotO likes this.

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  2. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    Absolutely!
    That should be standard procedure anytime someone buys wood that is suppose to be "seasoned".
    ScotO and Beer Belly like this.
  3. Freakingstang

    Freakingstang Feeling the Heat

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    where is everyone getting their moisture meters at?
  4. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Call me crazy but doesn't it make more sense to buy (or cut!) green wood for cheap and let it season?
    smokinj likes this.
  5. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I'm new at this, but the understanding that I'm coming to is that so few firewood dealers sell wood seasoned to 20% MC or lower that it's a bad idea to whip out your Gotcha meter unless the seller has explicitly told you in advance that the wood is at a particular MC. Firewood sales is a really easy business to get started in, requiring little but a truck, a saw and a splitter. There's no private or public agency regulating what gets sold, and half the customers don't know and barely care what they're buying anyhow, so the market trains sellers to deliver a product that disappoints the smaller fraction of people who've educated themselves. If you've been very explicit about what you want, then it's fine and appropriate to confirm it. If you're relying on an advertisement offering "seasoned" wood to be what you hope it will be, it's not likely to go well and you may as well head that off before the guy loads his truck and drives however far to get to your place.
  6. Cross Cut Saw

    Cross Cut Saw Feeling the Heat

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    This is supposed to be kiln dried though, that's different than just "seasoned" and I'm paying a premium for it.
    PapaDave and ScotO like this.
  7. Cross Cut Saw

    Cross Cut Saw Feeling the Heat

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    You're crazy.

    • I live on .20 acres in the middle of a densely populated town. My house and driveway take up over half of my property. Given the opportunity to have a wood processing center where I have space to store tree length, buck up, cut split and stack the 12 or so cords I would need to get a couple of years ahead I would gladly do so! Reality is that a good percentage of us on here just can't for many reasons.
    • This is my first year of burning wood, just getting into it about 9 months ago I had no clue I would have to store and rotate so much wood to dry to effectively have burnable wood.
    • I do already have nearly 2 1/2 cords css in various places, but randomly checking those stacks revealed moisture contents in the mid to low 20's so I'm getting this delivery to replace that wood and save it for next year.

    So that being said, I'm buying a product that I'm paying a premium for and I think it's fair to check that I'm getting what I paid for.
    Trooper, Lumber-Jack and ScotO like this.
  8. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Ah, missed that. I'd still ask what MC they dry the wood to, before they make the delivery. Kiln drying speeds up the process but they can take the wood out of the kiln whenever they choose and still call it "kiln dried."
  9. Cross Cut Saw

    Cross Cut Saw Feeling the Heat

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  10. Cross Cut Saw

    Cross Cut Saw Feeling the Heat

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    That just proves my point, if it's been kiln dried anything over 20% is unacceptable and I'm hoping for the mid to high teens.
    PapaDave likes this.
  11. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I don't follow your meaning here, but it doesn't really matter. You seem to have made up your mind, and your position isn't ridiculous, so go for it. Good luck.
  12. Cross Cut Saw

    Cross Cut Saw Feeling the Heat

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    Sorry, that was vague, my point was that I should check, because some people might just drive a pallet through a kiln and call it kiln dried.
  13. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Oh, and remember to check the MM manual for any species or temperature-related adjustments you need to make. My meter is calibrated for 70 degrees F, and at 30F is thrown off by a few percent. Species vary quite a bit too; electronic meters really just measure electrical properties, which can be affected by more than just moisture content.
    ScotO likes this.
  14. Cross Cut Saw

    Cross Cut Saw Feeling the Heat

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    Good call, I checked some of the oak that I've had css since May and it was reading 20.6% outside (it's currently 18 degrees).

    I brought that same split inside to thaw and after 20 minutes or so it's already reading 25%.

    I'll keep checking to see if that goes up as it thaws...
    ScotO likes this.
  15. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    yep.....the 'pig in lipstick' scenario.....

    My way of thinking, if they claim it to be kiln dried, that is telling the seller it is down in the low-teens or lower even in MC. If he's got a problem with you checking a split or two in that truck (especially the oak splits, they are the ones that hold the moisture the longest) then he's got something to hide.....

    Its just like any other business......tell the truth, be honest, and your business will flourish. Tell lies, I hope you get caught so your business sinks.

    Especially when your are selling your wood for a premium.....
    amateur cutter, TimJ and Bacffin like this.
  16. Flamestead

    Flamestead Feeling the Heat

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    In some regions the kilns can be certified to allow extended movement of the firewood - it might be worthwhile to ask if they are approved/certified by the government.

    Maine law does not recognize kiln dried as a way to kill insects, as they say in their firewood importation ban.

    I suspect that kiln dried in some locals might be equivalent to seasoned with respect to the variability and accuracy of meaning with respect to moisture content (not to say kiln dried isn't drier, but how dry could still be subjective unless held to some standard).
  17. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    FWIW, even though I'm new to burning, I've been a woodworker and dealt with moisture content for a long time, and yet I'm having a hard time pinning down what we're all talking about when we refer to firewood moisture content. I've only recently discovered that there are two different ways that moisture content is defined. From hearth.com's glossary:

    MOISTURE CONTENT -- The percentage of the fuels weight that is water in comparison to the total weight of the water and wood in the wet method; in comparison to the weight of the oven dried fuel in the dry basis.

    In woodworking it's all dry basis and I believe that electronic meters estimate dry-basis numbers as well, but some authoritative-sounding forum posts here seem to suggest that the EPA talks about firewood MC using wet-basis numbers. It makes a big difference. 20% wet basis = 25% dry-basis. 50% wet basis = 100% dry basis.

    All factors considered, the waters seem very muddy. With my meter, which was a well-reviewed cheapie when I bought it over 10 years ago, if I get a reading at 18% on a piece of cherry at 30 degrees F, the actual MC according to the charts that came with the meter is 24.5%, which I can only assume is a dry-basis number, which in turn equates to 19.7% wet-basis. And that doesn't even address the fact that there tends to be a gradient of moisture, with the wood at the middle of a piece being wetter than that at the ends. So I have the impression that a lot of the MC numbers discussed here may be more precise than meaningful. I don't know how I'd begin to argue about all this with a dealer who just wants to unload his truck and get on with his day. So my current inclination wound be to re-split a couple of the larger pieces and touch the interior surface to some sensitive skin - my cheek or lips seem pretty effective. Even when the wood is cold from being outside, dry firewood seems almost warm to the touch because it's such a poor conductor of heat, whereas damp wood feels clammy even when its warmer because its thermal conductivity means it can suck the heat right out of you. It's not ideal, but I don't know of a way that would be both better and practical.


  18. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    I would doubt that the wood will be dried into the teens. Maybe some ash or cherry, and poplar type woods but I doubt the oak will be much lower that mid 20s on the inside unles those splits are the size of your forearm.


    As for MM I got mine on Ebay. I did not notice that it was coming from hong kong till a week waiting on it. Once I realized that I wished I would of just paid a $1 more or so and got it from a us vendor so I would of already had it but ohwell, not like I needed it? I think I paid like $7.50 or so shipped to my door!!! I have used it on and off or a year or more checking stuff for fun and it seems to be pretty close to what you would think they really are.
  19. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    Hit it with the meter. If it feels right and looks right and the meter is in the ball park you'll be happy. I have the cheapest meter on the planet. The stuff that reads <20% burns good the stuff that reads >30% does not. FWIW most split, stacked but unseasoned wood in my stacks reads 35-40%.
  20. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I think the big factor here is that the guy is claiming it to be kiln dried. There is NO WAY I'd pay a premium for kiln dried wood, to find it metering in the 20's.....NO WAY.....

    That wood, if it's kiln dried, should AT LEAST be under 20%.....that would be on a FRESH SPLIT THAT I MADE ON THE SPOT. Hell, I could go out in the woods here right now, cut down some standing dead maple and ash (non kiln dried, non split) and it'd be in he mid to low 20's.....

    Again, the key here fellas is the claim of KILN DRIED. Not seasoned, KILN DRIED.
  21. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    If the guy hasn't represented a moisture content I don't know how you are going to argue with the content when it arrives. For a purchase that size I don't understand why people don't go to the vendor's place and test before buying the stuff. Instead of ending up in the driveway with one PO'ed guy with a meter in his hand and one PO'ed guy with a loaded truck.
    jackatc1 likes this.
  22. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    That would be the best option, BB. But, if the delivery is on it's way, and they guy is charging a premium for something the HE SAID is KILN DRIED......he should be ready to prove that it is KILN DRIED when the delivery arrives.

    Kinda like buying a car on the internet......if it isn't what the seller advertised it to be, then there is a sort of "breach of contract".

    Next thing you know, there will be a disclaimer you have to sign before they deliver your wood.....;lol;)
  23. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    who knows, maybe the guy's last name is "Kiln". The firewood could have been split and laying in his backyard for a couple of months.
    Technically, it'd be Kiln dried if that is the case! :p::P
    weatherguy and Ralphie Boy like this.
  24. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Scotty: can you point out a hard definition of "kiln dried?" If you can't, then there's no contract to be breached. I have an idea of what I'd like it to mean, but then I also have an idea of what I'd like "seasoned" to mean. Not everyone agrees.
  25. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Okay, so you go to buy rough lumber at a local mill that says it's kiln dried......what do you expect, 6 to 8% if you are building furniture, would that be around right?

    I'd say advertising kiln dried firewood would be saying that the wood is between 12 to 18% MC. No, I don't know of any standard in my area in regards to what is "kosher". But I can guarantee you if I was paying a premium for that wood, and the guy showed up with kiln dried wood that read over 20% MC on a freshly made split, that he'd be leaving my place with as much wood as he brought with him......

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