Heating your carpentry shop in the wintertime can help you to stay open and productive even when the temperature outside would normally make it too cold to get much work done. Though modern heating methods greatly improve conditions for workers during the colder months of the year, they can have the unintended consequence of sucking a significant amount of moisture out of the air and out of your lumber. As mentioned in the previous article, this can cause the wood to develop both tiny surface checks as well as more serious end checks.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the other difficulties that dry air due to the use of indoor heaters in your shop can cause, as well as some solutions to these common problems.
Include Extra Board Length to Combat Low Air Moisture-Induced End Checking
As an organic building material, wood is always going to move. Dramatic changes in moisture content can exacerbate this movement. Anticipating and planning for these changes will make a world of difference in the long-term performance of the lumber at your shop.
For example, if you want to mitigate the effects of end checking on the boards you’re storing in your dry, heated shop, purchasing boards with extra length would be a smart move. Though the tiny surface checks that appear on the exterior of your boards should close up on their own as the moisture content increases in the spring and summer, the end checks may need to be trimmed off.
If you buy boards that are slightly longer than what you need, this won’t pose a problem. If you fail to do so, you could be in trouble. That’s why strategic planning for weather changes is so crucial to the long-term success of your business.
Restrain Boards to Decrease Warping and Cupping Tendencies
Some other problems you may encounter due to low moisture in the air in your shop during the winter months is warping and cupping. To help avoid some of this tendency to warp, your boards should be weighed down or banded together while in storage. Give the boards ample time to rest when they enter the shop before working with them. Resting for at least 24 hours can be hugely beneficial for lumber boards that have just entered a shop with extra dry, heated air during the wintertime.
This precaution of restraining lumber during the acclimation process is especially important for lumber that’s fresh from the mill and dimensionally near the size you want it to be for use or sale. If it’s rough lumber, resting is still a good idea, though it won’t be as vital as it would be for milled lumber.
Developing a working knowledge of the changes you can expect from lumber as it expands and contracts due to changes in air moisture content is an essential part of learning to work with wood. In the next and final article of this series, we’ll take a look at some of the long-term effects this dramatic decrease in moisture content could have on your lumber boards. We’ll also look at what to expect and how to appropriately respond when the boards begin to rapidly increase in moisture content as the weather changes.