With something like 75 days left to go until I start putting things together (!!!) I went out to check on my lumber this morning.
We have this moisture meter in the house for checking our firewood, and it should work just fine for checking the lumber as well. It passes an electrical current through the lumber to determine the moisture content therein. If I was buying kiln-dried lumber from a contractor supply, I wouldn’t necessarily have to worry about this. But since my lumber was freshly sawn, I need to ensure it will be at a safely dry level when I start building with it.
Most resources agree that an ideal moisture level is somewhere below 14%. Anything below 19% is technically safe since that’s the point where rot and mold appears, but the drier the better. Wood that hasn’t dried completely before it’s nailed in place has a tendency to warp, which is absolutely not what we want. I was looking for an ideal moisture content in the 8-12% range.
I have been out to the lumber pile several times this winter already just to check on it. Making sure that water isn’t collecting on or near the pile is extremely important. After snow accumulates, I shovel some of it away from the pile. Especially since some of the largest pieces are on the bottom, this kind of maintenance will keep me from major headaches later on.
On the south-facing side of the lumber pile, the ends of the boards don’t even register on the meter. Based on the percent accuracy of this relatively cheap meter, that means the moisture content could be anywhere below ~9%. This is right in the sweet spot.
I made sure to check each size of lumber individually. 2×4’s dry significantly faster than 2×6’s or the oddly-shaped 3×4’s I have on the bottom of the pile.
The picture below are from the opposite end of the pile; the northern end that gets less sun. These ends of the boards registered anywhere from 8-14% moisture content. Most builders would accept these values as acceptable ambient moisture contents, but because these pieces have never been kiln-dried, I would like to see them be drier when I start to nail them together.
These boards arrived at my house on October 27th. I’ll assume they all had around the same moisture content at that point. That’s 81 days ago. Knowing that winter is a fairly humid season, and that they’ll probably dry a little less over the next 80 days than the last 80 days, I still expect them to be ready to go once April rolls around!
You can see how far I got with painting the trailer before it got too cold to use spray paint. At least the axles and leaf springs are all set!