How long does it take wood to dry? This question often baffles people, especially if they are watching their wood getting soaked during rain or if they are planning to season the wood for the next winter season.
Well, there are a ton of factors that play an important role.
If you are a professional woodworker and want to dry the wood for your woodworking project, you need to wait at least 72 hours. However, this time duration is for seasoned wood (in case it has been bathed in rainwater).
If you won’t give your seasoned wood 72 hours to dry, the stain and paint might not stick to the wood.
Hey! Do you want to learn more about seasoning wood? If you do, then you should check out my article: How To Season Wood (7 Tips)
In fact, if you work on a wood piece with more than 30 percent moisture, the final workpiece will shrink over time and won’t fit with the furniture.
On the other hand, turning unseasoned wood into seasoned wood takes time.
Most firewood types take at least a season (six months) to dry properly. Moreover, you need to make sure the lumbers moisture content is below 20 percent before burning it.
How Long Does It Take Wood To Dry | Plus 5 Quick Tips
How Can I Dry Wood Fast? | 5 Quick Tips
It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to season wood or dry wood quickly for your woodworking projects, anything above 20 percent moisture content isn’t ready.
Fortunately, I have some tips today for storing and drying wood faster.
- 1 – Stack the wood correctly so that there is a lot of airflow in between each piece.
In case you have over-sized lumber, split it into smaller pieces.
- 2 – If you have cut down a tree recently and wish to dry its pieces faster, make sure you process it in a timely fashion.
Since, (when you don’t process it on time or split it into small pieces), it starts to deteriorate. In other words, you’ll be left with moldy unworkable wood.
- 3 – Logs with bark still on them don’t lose moisture easily. Their bark acts as a moisture barrier and causes the wood to rot.
Remove it as soon as you can and check the wood again after 1-2 days. If you see partially rotted wood, it means the bark wasn’t removed correctly.
- 4 – Don’t have time to wait? Use your fireplace.
Place your damp wood piece next to the dry wood you are burning. It makes it dry immensely fast. Similarly, you can put the wood inside a warm room or next to a fireplace.
- 5 – Sealing the end of the logs makes the moisture seep at a higher rate.
The moisture seeps from the side surfaces and keeps the ends relatively smooth as well.
Storing Wood Properly
How you store your wood also creates an impact on its moisture content.
Whenever possible, the wood should be stored indoors, particularly if your region receives heavy rainfall on a constant basis and if you are trying to dry seasoned dripping wood. In case it is pertinent to keep the wood outside, you must cover it at all times.
Now, if you are thinking of storing wood inside, understand that indoor storage will slow the drying process – but thankfully it doesn’t increase woods moisture content.
On the other hand, if you keep the wood outside, under direct sunlight, it will dry the wood fast. However, you must cover it well during rainfall.
Besides, keep it away from other dried and seasoned woods, since its moisture can get into the air and negatively impact the humidity of the environment and condition of other seasoned woods.
Some people try to store wood vertically and think that it removes the moisture faster. This isn’t correct at all.
We store wood vertically only if it is completely dry to save space. Otherwise, for wood with high moisture content, we use a horizontal position only.
The horizontal position not only lowers its moisture content fast but also lessens the risk of water damage.
Drying Hardwood VS Drying Softwood
Expect most types of hardwood to take about 18 months maximum to season or dry out fully.
And it depends on the condition and the environment too. If you are opting for the air-drying method solely and not storing the wood correctly, it will take time. But if you are splitting the wood into smaller pieces, covering it well, and keeping it in a dry, hot place, it will dry quickly.
The reason why hardwood takes a lot of time to dry is it is deciduous and heavier than softwood. The best examples are maple, rosewood, pine, and cherry; they shed their leaves annually, and their wood can last for generations if you dry and store it well.
Softwood is lighter but it has its own benefits.
It has no covering and it is easier to cut and split it too. Therefore, it dries fast. If you store it well, it dries within 6-8 months.
If it is already seasoned wood, and you want to use it for your woodworking projects, as we have mentioned earlier, 72 hours are enough.
Surprisingly, the hardwood like ash and maple will be ready for woodworking projects in less than 72 hours, as their density plays a significant role in seeping out moisture.
Usually, the lumber you buy has a 15 percent moisture content.
This is a good percentage, and it shows it is ready for burning and woodworking projects. However, with some air-dry methods and heating sessions, you can take 15 percent MC (Moisture Content) lumber down to just 8 percent MC within a day, which is an ideal MC percentage for dry wood.
There is a kiln-drying process too. It is one of the quickest methods to dry wood (1-8 weeks), and it is associated with seasoning the wood only.
Since the seasoning of the wood takes 6 months at least, but kiln drying method season the wood rather quickly that can be enjoyed for years. In the kiln drying process, the wood is dried in an oven for a set period of time so that you can have the desired moisture content in the wood.
At the end of the day, woodworkers rely on the kiln drying process a lot. This is because moisture imbalances in the wood can jeopardize a project’s integrity and create a lot of problematic moisture-related issues in the grain.