Couple of weeks ago, I was talking a little shop with Tom Iovino of Tom’s Workbench (and an active blogger here at woodmagazine.com) when the subject of seasonal wood movement came up. It’s kind of a key concept because project parts change size as they absorb and release moisture as the seasons change. Fit a solid-wood part perfectly into a dado in the winter when the shop air is relatively dry, and come summer, when the humidity kicks up a notch, that part may swell enough to blow the joint apart. It usually happens so slowly, though, it’s hard for some folks to grasp.
Then Tom came up with a really cool idea and asked me to be a part of it. What if you took boards machined in one climate and took them to another? Would they change in width? Length? Thickness? And how much would they change? We decided to find out, not from some chart, but in the real world.
Tom lives in tropical Tampa, Florida, where the humidity gets so high in the summer it feels like getting smacked in the face with a 4×4 when you walk outside from the air conditioning. I live in moderate Des Moines, Iowa, and Marc Spagnuolo (aka The Wood Whisperer) lives in the desert clime of metro Phoenix. Three drastically different climactic scenarios.
See where we’re going with this?
Tom machined three identical sets of boards in several species, recorded their Florida dimensions, and put them in the mail to Marc and me yesterday. When they arrive at our places, we’ll measure them to see how much they changed in transit. Then, after a couple weeks of acclimating to our respective shops, we’ll measure them again and see how much if any, they’ve changed.
Will Tom’s boards change size as they acclimate in his own shop after machining? Will Marc’s boards arrive in his Arizona mailbox cracked, checked, and warped? Check back in a couple of weeks and we’ll let you know.
This could be fun.
Dave at WOOD Magazine
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