When I first got into woodworking, I didn’t take much notice of the humidity of my woodworking shop. But, after we had some heavy rain, I noticed it was harder to fit the different boards together, and my precise measurements weren’t so precise.
So, I researched it and found that the increased humidity was the issue, and I researched the best humidity for a woodshop and put what I found into this helpful article.
The best humidity for a woodworking shop is the average humidity where it will be kept. So, if your region’s average humidity is 40%, the humidity of your woodshop should be 40%. If you are making furniture for an area with a different climate than yours, adjust your shop humidity to match.
Different regions worldwide have a different average humidity, so knowing the average humidity of where you will keep the piece is important. Also, knowing how to increase or decrease the humidity of your woodshop is important. So, read on to discover your region’s average humidity and how to lower or increase the humidity for your unique woodshop.
How do you control the humidity and what humidity is best for a woodworking shop?
You might have seen the effects of humidity while woodworking with wood warping, twisting, or even joints splitting apart due to the humidity level change. Once you’ve dealt with this a couple of times, you’ll realize that maintaining the correct humidity levels in your workshop is necessary depending on where you are.
This article will explain exactly what humidity you’re woodshop should be at and how to control the humidity
Here’s how to do that:
- Find the average humidity of your region or where you’re shipping the project to.
- Change and control the humidity – where necessary
1. Find the average humidity of your region or where you’re shipping the project to
If you’re keeping your woodworking projects local, you need to keep your woodshop’s humidity the same as the average temperature of your region.
Wood will balance out its moisture content to its surroundings. For example, when the wood is first cut, it has a moisture content, but it is then dried. After it has dried, it will be the size unless the surrounding air becomes drier and moister. When the air gets dry, it will dry out the wood, and the tiny particles of water in the wood evaporate into the air.
On the other side of the coin, when the air becomes moister because of increased rain, the wood will soak up the water in the air and expand.
However, if you keep your woodworking shop at a different humidity from the surrounding air when you take the wood out of your woodshop, it will shrink or expand. So, you want to keep your woodworking shop at the same humidity as the average humidity in your region.
The average humidity for the different States are:
Within each state, the humidity can vary slightly. This article would be FAR too long to list each of them individually. To find the average humidity for your individual region, the best idea is to do a Google search for your individual country or city.
2. Change and control the humidity
You will either need to raise or lower the humidity of your woodworking shop to make it ideal. But, you will first want to get a hygrometer. A hygrometer is a small device the size of a smartphone that can read the humidity in your woodworking shop.
You can pick one of these up on Amazon or at your local Walmart or similar. Most of them also display the temperature and the time and date. You can mount it on the wall so that you can keep an eye on it.
Thermopro makes a good one that will suit your needs for $10 to $25. (Check current price on Amazon here)
Once you know the humidity in your room, you can then see if you need to raise or lower it.
Lowering the humidity
To lower the humidity, you can use a dehumidifier. Most of the time, you only need to leave it on for about 30 mins twice a day to bring the humidity down.
Amazon has a good dehumidifier for space up to 4000 square feet for about $200(check the current price on Amazon here). One piece of advice is to have the moisture drain lead outside.
Also, making sure you open a window for at least 30 minutes will bring fresh air. And will lower the humidity. Stale air from your breathing and natural evaporation in the room raises the air’s moisture content.
Raising the humidity
To raise the humidity, you want to get steam into the air. You can do this by increasing the temperature of the room. If you run a heater, it will warm up everything in the room, releasing its moisture.
You can put open containers with water in them around your room. You want to make sure you don’t bump them over and spill water everywhere. The water will evaporate slowly into the air and increase the humidity.
You can also hand up wet clothes around your woodworking shop, which will have the same effect as water containers.
Generally, you won’t need to raise a room’s humidity unless you’ve lowered the humidity somehow. So, it’s only a special case where you might be sending your projects across State or internationally.
Shipping your woodworking projects/products to other States and countries
Suppose you are sending a woodworking project to a friend or family member. You can adjust your woodworking shop’s temperature to match the average humidity to the place where you’re sending it.
You will also need to vacuum seal the item in plastic wrap or an airtight container to get warped when you ship it or drive it over.
This might be a bit overkill, in my opinion. But, if you have many customers in one part of the world, and they are paying a lot for the items, it can be a nice touch. That way, your products will arrive exactly as you made them.
The best humidity for a woodworking shop is the average humidity of where your woodshop is. The size of your wood will stay the same as long as the humidity of your woodshop isn’t drier or more humid than where you’re going to keep your woodworking project.
If the air is drier than the average humidity, it will cause moisture in the wood to evaporate off, making it shrink. And the same is true when the air is more humid. Extra moisture in the air will be absorbed by the wood and make it expand.
You may be wanting some other helpful tips about setting up your woodshop. So, I would recommend to check out these other articles I wrote:
- [How to Do Woodworking in an Apartment]
- [How Much Space Do I Need for a Wood Shop?]
- [How dry should wood be for woodworking]