Moisture Meters

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Moisture Meters

Postby robbylepczyk24 » Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:29 am

Do any of you have experience with using a moisture meter on tamo blanks? If so, any recommendations or tricks and tips? I am curious if it worth my $29.00 plus shipping, or if i should just wait three or four months so it dries thoroughly. :ugeek:
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Re: Moisture Meters

Postby Markpdx » Wed Sep 25, 2019 12:10 pm

I am a luthier and woodworker. Moisture meters really are just for telling you the relative moisture content of wood. Typically these are used with lumber that has been cut to dimension. Then the wood is stored flat and remeasured to how the moisture has dropped to a level that produces a "stable" piece go wood that is no longer "green" and willing to warp or twist.
For building nets, the best thing to do with the wood, for a stable frame is to take the green wood, and if it is limber enough, wrap the limbs around a template of wood that is a bit smaller than the diameter of your finished net and let the wood dry out. This can take up to 6 month to a year for the moisture to be released.
Wood fiber is like a bunch of straws all bound together with a matrix of material called lignin. Lignin is like the glue that bonds the wood fibers together. Wood also has "memory", in that it want to return to its original shape. The way to overcome this "memory" to some level is to activate the lignin with heat to above the boiling point of water, for enough time to activate the lignin throughout the thickness of the wood. Steam is a good method of doing this, as it will damage the wood less than dry heat. This steaming activates the lignin and allows it to move and reform around the wood fibers held in the new shape.
Holding a branch over an open steaming pot is a poor method, since it is hard to steam the length of both limbs at once. You need to steam the entire length of the limbs to be bent at once*.
If you can bend the limbs while "green" into an approximate circle, and bind the limbs together around a circular template, then let it dry out to relative humidity (@ 6-8%), then you could probably fit the bound limbs into a large pot and put a lid on it to trap as much steam as possible.

It is good to talk about the glue joint here that is going to be used. A scarf joint will be the strongest. Look it up. While the wood is green remove the bark, and make sure the limbs are long enough to form the diameter of the desired hoop size, and overlap each limb by 3"-4".
Use a pencil and mark the overlap area on both limbs. Ideally, use a plane to remove wood at an angle producing flat surfaces on both limb, that will become the mating circular scarf joint for the two limbs. This will be difficult to do well after the limbs have been bent/steamed into an arc.

The steaming time will vary from wood specie to another, but @ 10 minutes should do it with this method. When you take the steamed wood out you need to work fast, to bind the wood around an appropriate diameter template for your hoop size. You need to make sure your limbs overlap by at least 3"-4".
After steaming you need to allow the wood to dry out again. This will take weeks to months. If you don't do this you will be dealing with "green" wood again. Not good.
Now you should be ready to glue your scarf joint. Use Titebond "Waterproof " glue or epoxy. Epoxy is more waterproof. Glue is not a gap filler. Make sure you have a good surface-to-surface contact before gluing. Apply the glue, then pin the two limbs under pressure around your round hoop template. Use some wax paper between your glued limbs and any other material such as your template, so you don't glue those together. Run through a test of the process before applying the glue to work out any clamping issues ahead of time.
Good luck!

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