Drying wet wood - suggestions, please? - created 07-25-2008

Roberts, Randy - 07/25/2008.21:44:23
May your life's music always come from your heart.

I just received some soaking wet Osage Orange. Resawing to .200 inch thick was like cutting butter, which was a far cry from cutting the dry stuff. It's stickered to dry, and I would like to use it as soon as feasible.

I've got it in the air-conditioned basement with a fan blowing over it and I've started worrying about rate of drying. This is my first truly wet wood, and would appreciate any advice as to avoiding pitfalls such as drying conditions to avoid. Should I slow down the rate of drying or am I ok to go at it with the fan and room air.

Thanks in advance

Lewis, Michael - 07/25/2008.23:35:31
Fine Guitars and Mandolins

Not being familiar with osage I can only comment on wood in general. The thickness you have should allow quick drying without much problem as long as it is firmly stickered with good support so it can't cup or curl. I assume you have the end grain sealed. You will have to figure a way to measure the moisture content so you can know when the wood is seasoned well enough. Don't get in a hurry to use wet wood or you will be learning the hard way, it's a good way though. Painful experiences tend to leave a more lasting mark on our memories.

Either use a moisture meter or get access to a sensitive scale that will weigh a piece of your wood. Weigh it and mark the weight and date on the wood. repeat this every couple weeks or so until the weight becomes static. As long as the wood gets lighter at each weighing it is not sufficiently dry.

Schaeffer, Clay - 07/26/2008.08:11:40

Hi Randy,

I would let it dry out some just using the AC in the basement. As it becomes dry to the touch I might add the fan to help circulate the air. Sometimes wood becomes "case hardened" if the surface dries more quickly than the center, but I think that is usually thicker stuff that is sitting in the sun.

.020 seems a little thin for wet wood. Hopefully you won't get too much warpage.

Swanson, Mark - 07/26/2008.08:24:08
MIMForum Staff, Michigan

Don't you mean .200, and not .020? .020 is a little thinner than a guitar's G string, a bit too thin for a back or a side.

Gramann, Bob - 07/26/2008.09:59:10

I cut some Osage Orange in December that had been laying in a field for 30 years. It was very wet (from rain I assume--in 30 years it must have cured). I sliced a few sets (to .150")and stickered them in my 40% humidity workshop. It took until early June before they stopped losing weight. My sentinal piece went from 650 to 545 grams over that period. I may make one of the sets into a guitar in my next batch.

Senseney, Steve - 07/26/2008.11:17:36

There is not one simple answer.

I have placed the thin pieces between cardboard and placed all of this in a plastic bag. The cardboard quickly absorbed moisture, but it kept all of the surfaces moist at the same time. The plastic bag was similar to painting the ends of the boards.

As it lost moisture, I pulled out the carboard, opened the bag more, and eventually placed this in room air.

I wouldn't worry about case hardening with Osage. It can't get much harder. The thin strips will be worked down further with sanding rather than sawing anyway.

I have also cut Osage which had been laying in a field for 15-20 years. It is amazing that it had not rotted away. It also was quite moist.

Schaeffer, Clay - 07/27/2008.06:24:19

Well, Mark, I did say it sounded a little thin.

Boehnker, David - 07/31/2008.12:56:31

I resawed an osage orange log about a week after it was cut down (about as green as you can get) to about 3/16", painted the end grain, stickered and weighted it in my basement. I had no problems with cupping or warping, and built with it two years later with no problems with wood warping or splitting during the build. I did not have a fan on my stack, though.

Kibler, Ben - 08/01/2008.15:18:50

Could someone explain what "stickering" is and what purpose it serves. Thanks.

Merritt, Lauren - 08/01/2008.15:23:26

Ben, this presentation might help:


sysop - 08/01/2008.15:24:17
Deb Suran

Stickering is placing spacers between the pieces of wood so air can circulate around each piece. Let me see if I can find some pictures for you....




Davis, Larry - 08/01/2008.18:19:59
Gallery Hardwoods

Wow Lauren, that's a most excellent link to quality and accurate information. Best reason to place stickers closest to end as possible is because wood will generally not end check past the sticker..magic.