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Warped wooden pieces or logs are one of the primary concerns for carpenters. Wood warping, in essence, is due to the moisture content in the wood.
Every type of wood will have water in it. Mostly, it will not affect that project you have at hand. But only if you’re making use of it right away.
But if you’re not, and you have to store the wooden pieces, then you will have to take care of the moisture content to avoid warping.
Before we dive into understanding how to keep wood from warping, you should understand the types of wood warping.
Warping in wood can be in the form of:
- A bow, which is the wooden piece bending in the middle with the ends becoming raised.
- A crook, where the wood curves or dips in the middle.
- A kink, which looks like a dent in the piece. Only a part of the piece begins to protrude outwards.
- A cup, where the center dips, and the edges of the wooden piece become raised. This happens throughout the wooden piece.
- A twist, where the wooden piece becomes misshaped.
All of these types of wooden pieces become difficult to use. It takes effort to make use of a misshaped piece. There are creative ways of using them, but it comes at the price of your current project.
Steps on how to keep wood from warping
Step 1: Inspection
Whenever you decide to purchase wood, check the piece thoroughly. Check the distribution of moisture between the shell and core layers.
If you see a large difference in the core and the shell, then it could be a flaw in the drying process of the kiln.
Also, while you’re inspecting keep the equilibrium moisture content concept in mind. Also abbreviated as EMC, equilibrium moisture content helps you understand how the wood tackles moisture.
What it means is that the wood will absorb moisture from its surrounding depending on its nature. Wood with low moisture content will swell. This happens because these types of wooden pieces will absorb water from their surroundings.
Wooden pieces or logs with high moisture content will dry and shrink. This is because of its surrounding humidity.
In other words, humidity plays a large role in wood warping.
Step 2: Understand the specifics
Maple, spruce, pine, and cedar need to be checked thoroughly because they are more prone to warping. Mahogany, cherry, oak, teak, and walnut are durable types of wood. These aren’t prone to warping as much as the ones mentioned before.
If you buy these logs and you want them to not warp, you will need to check the moisture content.
Using a moisture meter will help you understand the moisture content.
There are other ways of measuring moisture, but they are time-consuming.
Step 3: Preparing the storage
The next step in understanding how to keep wood from warping is to make sure you store them properly. Whether you have logs or small pieces, you need a dry area to keep them with enough ventilation.
When you a place, you will have to look into how to store them. Your lumber should be stacked properly. Make sure that you have thing layers of wood in between the stacks of wood.
A thin layer of wood in between the layers of wood you’ll stack up are called “stickers.” Remember to stack the logs of different sizes in different piles.
Once you have a stack, cover it with a sheet. The sheet should be made of a material that does not allow moisture to get inside. Lastly, you should put some weight on woodpiles, to avoid cupping of wood.
Step 4: Curing the wood
Kiln-dried wood is the best answer to your how to keep wood from warping questions. But those are quite expensive.
Instead of getting kiln-dried wood, you can cure your wood. Using sealants or coating always helps in keeping the moisture away from the wood. Polyurethane is a common sealant that will help you avoid wood rotting and warping.
The easiest way to cure wood is by running a dehumidifier near the stacks of wood. This will suck the moisture out of the wood. If you want to speed up the drying process, you can use a fan along with a dehumidifier.
If you have small wood pieces, you can use an oven or a microwave to dry the wood. About two minutes will do the trick. Be careful with the drying process. If you heat it too much, you may end up burning the core of the wood.
Also, do not allow a piece of wood that is drying slowly to dry slowly. This will lead to moisture staying in the wood for longer and cause warping.
Another tip on how to keep wood from warping is to dry your logs or wooden pieces while they are exposed to moisture and humidity.
Step 5: Purchase the wood with sealants
This is an optional step on how to keep wood from warping. When you purchase a piece of wood, try to look for the ones with sealed edges.
The edges need to be sealed first because the edges warp faster than the other areas of the wood.
If you can’t find lumber with the edges of the piece sealed, you can follow the method above to save it from warping.
Warping of wood is common and extremely annoying, which is why you should know how to keep wood from warping.
When you try to stop wood from warping, you should keep monitoring moisture and humidity. Monitoring moisture is crucial when it comes to the area you dry your lumber and where you store it.
Next, keep in mind that the place for storing your wood should be devoid of moisture. Lastly, you should ensure that you stack the lumber properly.
Kiln-dried wood is not prone to warping. But as mentioned before, it is not a viable option for everyone. And that is why you need to follow the steps mentioned above to ensure your lumber does not warp.