Dried Wood Vs Green Wood

Published Tuesday 22nd March 2016

Green wood and dried wood both have their merits and drawbacks, in this guide we’ll take you through when to use dried wood and green wood.

To understand the best wood to use for you project you have to first understand what each type of wood is, and then which is the best wood for your project.

Green Wood

Green wood refers to wood that has been recently cut down and has not had an opportunity to season. Seasoning refers to the drying on the internal moisture that is in the wood. Green wood is considered to have a 100% moisture content relative to air dried or seasoned wood.

dried wood vs green woodDried Wood

To achieve a wood product that has less than 20% moisture content, it must be seasoned or dried. There are two processes that are used to do this, one is air drying, and the other is kiln dried.

Air Dried Wood

Air dried wood is pretty self-explanatory, it’s wood that has been left to dry in the air, as opposed to applying heat to dry it. It is the more traditional method of drying wood and gives the timber a little more flexibility.

Kiln Dried Wood

Kiln dried wood is wood that is sawn, placed in a kiln and dried using warm air currents. Kiln drying is a considerably faster process to traditional air drying. This method produces a much harder product usually reserved for the building trade.

So which wood should I use?

As we have said above, the different types of wood should be used accordingly depending on what the project is you’re working on. Below, we’ve given some typical uses for green and dried wood in so you can make the right decision for your next project:

Green Wood

Green wood’s 100% moisture content means that it is flexible and soft, making it very fun to work with on the lathe as it’s very kind on the chisel. However you have to bear in mind that the greener the wood the more likely it is to warp or even crack as the moisture dries.

For building and furniture projects, green wood is definitely not the best choice. The unstable nature of the wood drying naturally can warp and even rupture the structural integrity of the build. We would stay well clear of green wood for furniture and building projects, unless you’re advanced and are going for a specific distressed look.

Green Wood’s moisture content also make it the worst choice for burning. Not only does the moisture in the wood give off less heat than dried wood, but it can also cause creosote to be created as a by-product of moisture evaporation. Creosote deposits in chimney flues can lead to chimney fires under the right conditions.

Air dried wood

Air dried wood contains much less moisture than green wood, but a little bit more than the faster and more aggressive method of Kiln drying. It’s this latent moisture content that makes it a little easier to work with than the Kiln dried alternative. Air dried wood is a solid, stable medium for construction projects such as furniture, as it’s easy to work with and does not go through the kiln process, which can cause damage to the wood.

Air dried wood is a much better alternative to green wood when it comes to fuel. The long weathering process helps to eliminate moisture and other elements, making it a much more efficient and safe fuel.

Kiln Dried Wood

Kiln Dried wood is the industry standard for construction. It is the most consistent and stable product offered after the drying process.

Smaller woodworking projects, such is with chisels or on the lathe may want to consider using air dried wood as kiln dried wood can be unforgiving and hard on tools.

Kiln dried wood offers the most efficient burning for fuel, it nearly 100% burn heat efficiency.

To sum up…

  • Green wood should only really be used if you’re trying to get a specific look or are practicing your woodworking techniques, and rarely used for fuel and structural projects.
  • Air dried wood can be used for construction and is a good burner, it is more forgiving on tools than kiln dried wood, so can be used for wood working projects.
  • Kiln dried wood is the go to for construction and fuel, although it can be unforgiving on tools so you should take caution when using it.

Over to you

If you have a project and are wondering which wood or timber to use please do feel free to get in touch or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter.