How Dry Should Wood Be Before Turning: Here’s The Truth!

Turning wood is a fun hobby to have, and it allows you to create some amazing works of art in your wood furniture. Before you start turning your wood, though, you need to dry out your wood to make the turning process easier, but how dry should your wood be before turning?

Before you turn your wood, you need to dry it out well. If you use a kiln to dry your wood, you should dry it to 8% moisture content before turning. If you are air-drying your wood, you can dry it to between 10 and 18% moisture content before you begin turning the wood. 

What are a few techniques you can use to help your wood dry faster? Why does the wood need to be dry before you can turn it in the first place? Let’s find out!

How Dry Should Wood Be Before Turning?

Turning wood is an age-old woodworking technique used to make various furniture. Tuning wood allows you to decorate the wood with fine details that make the piece of furniture more unique. 

However, before turning the wood, you need to allow the wood to dry out first, as tuning wet wood can lead to some problems. But how dry should your wood be before you start turning it? 

When you calculate the dryness level that the wood needs to be before you turn it, you need to account for the approximate humidity level the end workpiece will be exposed to before it is treated. 

This is because the wood can soak up moisture from the air if kept in a location with high humidity. This can affect the length of time it takes to dry the wood in the first place. 

For this reason, many people choose to dry their wood in a kiln as they have more control over the moisture the wood comes into contact with while drying. 

Kiln drying your wood allows you to dry the wood out more, so when exposed to high humidity and absorbs some moisture, it still has an acceptable moisture content for turning. This can be a bit trickier when you are air-drying your wood.

When you are drying wood, you need to ensure you have a moisture meter to accurately determine the moisture content (MC) in the wood. With kiln drying, you should dry your wood out to 8% MC, while when air drying your wood, you should get the MC down to between 18% to 10%. 

When you text your wood and get these moisture content readings based on how you are drying your wood, your wood is ready to be turned. 

How To Help Wood Dry Faster Before Turning

Drying wood can be a long process, and this can become frustrating for some who have been waiting for and while and want to start turning already. Thankfully, you can utilize a few methods to help you dry your wood faster. 

How Dry Should Wood Be Before Turning: Here's The Truth!

Firstly, dry your wood indoors if possible. This will help protect the wood from anything that could cause possible moisture to increase in the wood, like rain. If you cannot dry your wood indoors, try to keep your wood in a dry, sunny, and windy location to help keep the drying process going. 

If you can dry your wood indoors, then another thing you can do to speed up the drying process is to use a dehumidifier and a fan in the room you are drying the wood in. this will make the room dry and help expel the moisture from the wood. 

If you are working with a small piece of wood, you can also use the microwave drying method. However, this should be performed with caution, as if you leave the wood in the microwave for too long, you can scorch the wood. You can microwave the wood in 3-minute intervals and keep checking it until you get the desired dryness. 

Why Wood Needs To Be Dry For Turning 

If you are new to turning wood, you might be wondering why the wood needs to be dry before you begin working with it. There are several reasons for this, and drying the wood can save you so much time and possible disappointment when making your wood designs. 

Let’s go through the main reasons why wood should be dry before you start turning it, so you better understand the whole process. 

Wet Wood Causes Tool Wear 

Turning wet wood can start to damage your tools and put you in danger. When you turn wet wood, the wet sawdust and shavings from the wood can catch on the blades and other moving parts of your tools. 

This will cause your tools to stop working correctly as it gums up the inside of the machinery, which can lead to malfunctions that could possibly put you in harm’s way. The wet wood can also promote rusting on the metal tools you use, which will decrease their lifespans. 

Turning wood with high moisture content can also lead to the wood catching more and having more kickbacks, making it harder to work with. 

Lowers The Risk Of Damaging The Wood When Turning

When you turn wood that still has a high moisture content, there is a higher chance that the wood will be damaged in the process, and you will need to start your piece from scratch again. The reason behind this is that the moisture in the wood softens the wood fibers. 

This means the wood fibers are more prone to tearing or ripping when working with the wood. When the moisture in the wood is high, something as simple as sanding the wood can make the surface of the wood to tear instead of smoothing it out. So, wood that is still wet is extremely difficult to work with.

Wet Wood Causes Adhesive Problems

When you turn separate sections of wood to make one finished piece, and you are using wet wood, the adhesive you use to glue the joints together will probably not take well, and the final piece will fall apart. 

Even if you get the joints to stick together by using an adhesive that can handle wet items when the wood eventually dries over time, the wood will shrink, putting pressure on the glued joints. This could cause the wood to break at the joints. 


Drying wood is an essential process that needs to take place before you even try turning the wood. The wood should be dried to the point where it has a moisture content between at least 8% and 18% before you begin turning it. This will help make the wood easier to work with and help the end product look great. Good luck drying and turning your wood! 


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