How long should I let wood acclimate before use?

This box uses a lid crafted from bubinga.

Q:

To make my future dining-room table, I recently purchased a bubinga board 2" thick, 3' across, and 15' long. I had it shipped from Oregon to Tucson, Arizona, where I cut it into three equal lengths and sealed the ends. How long should it acclimate before I use the boards? I was told it was kiln-dried, but don’t have a moisture meter to check for sure.
—Matt Sandoval, Tucson, Ariz.

A:

Given your dry locale, Matt, even an inexpensive moisture meter would be a good investment.

Whether or not the boards were kiln-dried, they face a considerable climate change moving from Oregon to your Arizona home. Wood for indoor projects in the Southwest should average 6 percent moisture, compared with 8 percent throughout most of the United States and 11 percent in warm coastal areas.

Store the pieces out of direct sun where there’s good air circulation, such as an overhead area of a carport. Shim the stickered pieces so the bubinga rests completely flat. Then check the moisture content each week until the readings become stable for at least three consecutive weeks.

The moisture content close to the center may exceed that at the surface. So machine both faces of all parts equally, and give the freshly exposed surfaces time to stabilize before assembling your table. 

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