Hardwood furniture has always been the cornerstone of long lasting furnishings due to its durability and functionality. Amish furniture, in particular, is highly sought after in Washington since it’s hand crafted and is typically made using 100% wood. If the wood is not properly dried within the first two years of being cut it will begin to warp, so the techniques surrounding the drying process are vital to maintain quality craftsmanship.
What is Wood Warping in Amish Furniture?
Wood warping occurs when different parts of a piece of lumber begin to change unevenly causing a deformity. When one part of a piece of wood dries faster than another, the drier part shrinks faster and this causes a stress in the lumber, this changes the shape of the wood and causes it to bend.
Different Types of Wood Drying
Wood drying, especially for Amish furniture, is a vital component in woodworking to ensure the finished product comes out without defects. Wood drying techniques can vary depending on the area with some being more expensive than others. One technique is to allow the lumber to sit passively at any humidity level. This technique is called ‘seasoning’ and it’s the slower form, but it’s also the simplest and least expensive to do. The downside is the drying times can vary depending on the species of wood, the thickness of the lumber, the conditions, moisture level, and the processing techniques used for the wood.
The rule of thumb in seasoning lumber is that for every inch of wood thickness it needs one year to air dry. This obviously means several years of wood laying out to air dry so another technique to process green wood into boards is to use a kiln.
A kiln is a large, insulated chamber which can consist of a room with controlled airflow, temperature, and humidity to dry wood efficiently. The wood drying is necessary for Amish furniture and brings the lumber down to the preferred moisture content. This technique ensures the wood is dried more evenly and minimizes the moisture gradient on the outer shell and the inner core of the lumber.
The best Amish furniture will be dried correctly and there should be no imperfections in the lumber when it’s used for a new project. Kiln drying has its drawbacks though since it can create internal stresses in the wood. When an improper kiln schedule is being used or corrective measures are not put in place soon enough, this can result in case hardening.
Case hardening is a defect where the outer shell of the wood will dry faster than the inner core. When the shell tries to shrink it’s inhibited by the core that still contains moisture which causes the outer shell to stretch and when the core begins to dry out the reverse happens, the stiff outer shell prohibiting the core from fully shrinking.
Wood drying is important for the making and crafting of Amish furniture to ensure the lumber doesn’t warp within two years. When done properly, wood drying will lead to high-quality lumber that is used for making long lasting furniture.