Do you really need to jam the pins in?

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New Member
Oct 18, 2021
Wayland, MA
So, new burner here (well, new to my adult life, burned wood growing up), and I have a mix of wood for this winter -- ash CSS this summer, "seasoned" (aka wet when delivered but definitely months since split) hardwood of a mix of oak, ash, maple, and some other scrounged miscellany. I got a general moisture meter but so far it's not been very useful, in part because it seems damn near impossible to get the pins any distance into the wood without severely bending or breaking them.

My question is this: it it really necessary to jam the pins in if you measure a freshly split face? The measurement is electrical resistance, and should be capturing the moisture levels of the surface of the fresh split, which is the deep interior of the unsplit wood, right? If not, why is this logic wrong, and why do you need to jam the pins way into a fresh split?

I know about temperature correction, too -- which is becoming more necessary as the fall progresses to winter...


Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
Long Island NY
It's best if they are in deep. Because the contact area is larger then, so the contact resistance is lower. Otherwise the reading will be indicating a moisture content lower than it really is (because the resistance read is higher than the resistance of the wood only).

You can predrill small holes that are just smaller than the pins diameter, so you still have to push some to get them in.

But, measuring something is better than nothing.

What are.your readings for the different types of wood?
Measure a few times. This highest moisture content read will be the most accurate (because it's the lowest resistance, which means you had the best contact in that measurement).


Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
Long Island NY
Also, knock the pieces together. Dull is wet. A hollow (ringing)sound is good.
Split and touch the fresh surface with your cheek. Cold is wet.


Feeling the Heat
Dec 21, 2017
Erin, WI
I've gotten a feel for the weight/species. If a specific piece feels too heavy, set it aside. It likely was slightly uncovered and isn't dry enough.