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Your moisture meter vs. my father

Post in 'The Gear' started by tymbee, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. tymbee

    tymbee Member

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    Reading about various moisture meters here I was curious to know how useful they might be, but the more I read the less inclined I am to buy one. If you think there's a noticeable difference between a MM reading of say, 12% and 14%, then fine-- who am I to argue with what you experience.

    But I can't help but recall a time a couple decades ago when I was helping my father load a wagon with firewood. There were 2 piles, one seasoned the other only partly seasoned. Around the edge the two piles were pretty well mixed together. He would grab one piece after the other, know immediately by species & weight which was which, toss the seasoned in the wagon and the less seasoned back on top of that pile.

    Obviously after handling many thousands of pieces of firewood over a lifetime he could tell the difference. Didn't need to bang 'em together and listen for the sound, just knew instinctively by size & weight.

    Father's long gone now but I'd put his expertise up agains your steekin' moisture meter any day! :)

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  2. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I don't use a moisture meter myself . . . rather I generally figure that with the wood I burn and the time I take to season the wood -- one year outside, another year inside the woodshed and then burning the wood in year 3 -- usually the wood is fantastic by then.

    I would wager I am pretty good at telling if the wood is questionable though based on the heft of the wood . . . and I have been known to wait on some wood when it felt heavier than it should be in my own opinion.

    That said . . . no offense to your Dad, but if I had any question about the wood's moisture content I would go with a moisture meter. Of course it probably goes without saying, but in most cases the woodstoves built 20 years ago were a little more forgiving if the wood was not quite as seasoned as it should be compared to today's woodstoves.
  3. ProjectX

    ProjectX Member

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    I agree you can tell a difference between seasoned and not seasoned just by handling the split. BUT lets face it if the piece is not not still attached to the tree that split has started to season BUT TO WHAT DEGREE OR HOW MUCH?

    The new EPA stoves are a totally different animal from your dads old smoke dragon that would eat everything.

    Just my thoughts FWIW :)

    X
  4. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Well they wont eat everythng but I agree with your statement, the MM thing is so funny, they are cheap and easy to use plus a little fun thrown in, but they get a lot of negative things said about them by people who have never used one. Most of my wood is 1 to 3 years old depending on species but I like to keep track of how long it takes for wood to dry so we can argue (discuss) about it. :lol:
  5. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    Most moisture meters are no more accurate than the speedometer or gas gauge in your car or truck. You don't necessarily need those things to drive around, because MOST people with a little experience or foreknowledge are able to judge what speed they are going, or how much gas may be left in the tank.
    Your dad probably had lots of experience with burning wood and knew just by the feel and weight how well it would burn for him, but sometimes weight can be misleading. If he was used to burning dry oak, and happened upon a piece of wet pine that was the same size and weight as the dry oak, would he have been able to discern that the pine was too wet to burn? We may never know.
    When it comes to in-experienced wood burners, or an unknown wood, moisture meters can sure come in handy.

    FWIW; Most moisture meters specs state they are accurate to within 3% give or take, as long as the wood you are measuring is with the range the meter was designed for. Firewood meters are most accurate within the 10% - 25% range. The further out of this range your wood is the less accurate it will be. If your wood reads anywhere within 10-20%you are probably good to go. If your reading is over 25% then it probably doesn't mater how accurate it is anyway, because all you need to know is that it's over 25% and not ready to burn yet.
  6. tymbee

    tymbee Member

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    Hopefully my tongue-in-cheek intent came through...

    But to answer your question above: yes, absolutely (but we never burned much if any softwoods given the dominance of hardwoods). But my point was that even between the main hardwoods we did use-- sugar maple, soft maples, black cherry, ash, etc.-- someone with that much experience can pretty much tell seasoned from green simply from heft. Didn't need any wood ID assistance either given it was obvious at a quick glance what species you were holding.

    While I don't burn as much wood as our earlier generations given it was often their primary source of fuel for heating and cooking, with 5 decades of experience myself I'm a pretty good judge what's "ready to burn" without using a MM.
  7. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    The way I do it is this: I sort the "Thlunkers" (hollow sounding) from the "Clunkers"(solid sounding). This is after a cursory judgment of weight ratio. A few representative Thunkers will be subjected to the moisture meter, and sometimes I am surprised. As I am relatively new at this, I am learning the nuances of seasoning wood. :coolsmile:
  8. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    There's a lot of teeth-chipping on this board about superfluous tools/accessories - the moisture meter being paramount.
  9. ProjectX

    ProjectX Member

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    I like the strange looks I always get when I have my white lab coat on and MM in hand testing my splits.:)

    I wish there was an "App for that"

    X
  10. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    The best part of not owning a moisture meter is knowing what a truly seasoned piece of firewood feels, sounds and burns like. Unfortunately you only know 1/3 of that equation after its in the stove!
  11. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    So what are you saying you buy a MM and you lose your senses? This MM thing gets stranger and stranger.
  12. tymbee

    tymbee Member

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    Suggestion for 'ya (if you REALLY want to get the strange looks):

    Add a stethoscope to your kit. When someone gets close and asks what you're doing, quickly say "SHHHhhhhh.... " and hold the stethoscope against a piece of wood and listen intently. You'd just have to keep a sharp eye out for anyone nearby with their own white suit... and a net. :)
  13. MofoG23

    MofoG23 Feeling the Heat

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    What I use to determine if its ready is the sound it makes (should make a nice "crack" like a baseball bat) and the ends should be splitting nicely....

    I have quite a few tools, but can't seem to find a good reason to buy a MM.....
  14. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    I guess you could say it enhances or fine tunes your senses.
    If anyone thinks they know what 20% mc is from feel and sound without ever having used a mm to get an good understanding of moisture content of wood they are kidding themselves.
    Its a tool. Just like a speedometer. I don't look at the speedometer all day while I'm driving. I use it as a reference to make sure I'm not speeding. I guess I could drive with the flow of traffic, what if there isn't any traffic?
    If someone has 3 yrs to stack it and forget it, then a mm is probably a waste of $12.
  15. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    If anyone thinks they know what 20% mc is from feel and sound without ever having used a mm to get an good understanding of moisture content of wood they are kidding themselves.
    Its a tool. Just like a speedometer. I don't look at the speedometer all day while I'm driving. I use it as a reference to make sure I'm not speeding. I guess I could drive with the flow of traffic, what if there isn't any traffic?
    If someone has 3 yrs to stack it and forget it, then a mm is probably a waste of $12.[/quote]


    +1! Couldn't have said it better myself!!
  16. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    MM is for sissy's......Your dads right.
  17. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Is it better to think your right or to actually be right? For some there is no difference.
  18. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I know I'm right. :cheese:
  19. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    If you dont know what you have neither does that "MM" I can rember every singal row I stack and when it was stack. If your not ahead of the game or you are the MM not going to change the game.
    Drop it, buck it, split it, stack it, burn it pitch the ash's.....3 years oak most anything else is good at 1 year. Didnt need a MM for that info.
  20. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    That does sum it up!
  21. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Oak take you 3 years, mmm my MM tells me it dont take 3 years in Iowa, after 2 years or so it dont get any dryer with the RH we have here, about 17%.
  22. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    My mm tells me nothing I have 3 years supply! lol I rotate according to oldest wood first. MM Is for building with wood. If you think you need one to heat your house to a very warm comfort zone......You would be Wrong! ;-)
  23. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    After all this, you have a MM?
  24. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Some where along the way you misunderstood one of my posts, yes I have a MM and at least 3 years of wood, its a toy and nothing more, why this topic produces so much lip bumping is beyond me.
  25. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    I've had a moisture meter since 1994. Lignomat Mini Ligno E pre-digital model.Its only used to check moisture of air-dried lumber I've bought or milled myself for building cabinets,furniture & wood turning/sculpture.Never on firewood.

    IMO your eyes,nose,hands & ears are a better moisture meter than you could ever buy.

    Cut it,split it,stack it & FORGET ABOUT IT for 2 yrs minimum. Its not rocket science.

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