If you’re thinking of trying a new wood species for a project, research is key to your success. Choosing the best wood material for the job requires more than evaluating options based on looks, durability and grade—it’s also important to consider stability. Knowing how stable a species is helps you avoid potential problems down the road. But, did you know that a wood’s stability depends on more than how it was grown or what species it is? How a supplier mills, dries and stores its lumber also influences stability—and not all wood species can follow the same protocols. It’s easy to research wood species’ working properties, aesthetic characteristics, and hardness, but when it comes to the drying schedule, that information is hard to find—and often proprietary. If you do obtain it, it may not be clear how those protocols impact stability. “You don’t want a situation where you use a wood one time, and it’s stable. But the next time you use it, it isn’t,” says Don Barton, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Northwest Hardwoods. “Manufacturers need to be able to trust their predictions about a wood species before they go ahead and use it to create a product.” Obtaining this kind of predictability requires more than measuring moisture content after kiln-drying. It requires measurement of average and standard deviation of types of warping that occur, such as bow and crook. That’s why, said Don, when one of his customers wanted to use Pacific Coast Maple for a new application, Northwest Hardwoods decided to first put it to the test.
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