Taking the Measure of a New Wood Moisture MeterI never used to worry about moisture content. I bought boards from my local hardwood store and I just assumed they were all dried to the same moisture content, and that that moisture content was sufficient for working.

When I started obtaining wood from various sources and performing advanced operations like bending, all of a sudden, moisture content seemed like it might be the most important thing about a piece of lumber. So I'm always scanning the market to see what the latest/greatest product has in terms of moisture meters.

Taking the Measure of a New Wood Moisture MeterGeneral Tools & Instrument has a new moisture meter on the market, and from the descriptions I have read it has some really nice features. 

To start with, the screen uses an OLED display - thn, small and flexible, it's a lot brighter - making it easy to read in the yard.

It has a cache of moisture curves for various lumber species programmed into the meter's memory, and reads the moisture content using a compensation factor for ambient temperature. Any knowledgeable woodworker understands the critical relationship between temperature, relative humidity, and wood moisture content. The ability to get results without having to slide on the moisture curve for temperature compensation is a real time-saver.

Another key feature I like is the replaceable pins. Nobody wants to spend time scrubbing any electrical connection. Since moisture meters all use an annode-cathode system to create a circuit using the water in the lumber, you do get deposition of crud on the pins over time. That crud screws up your conductivity and affects your readings. Replaceable pins are the ideal solution.

Based on my particular uses of a moisture meter, there are some features that don't do a lot for me. The memory function that stores up to 99 readings and the audible alarm are both functions that I could see being useful as a lumberman, checking stacks of lumber in a kiln.

For me, who dries small quantities of lumber in a solar kiln...it doesn't do a lot. As a trained scientist, I always document my data on paper. The thing I really see missing from the memory feature is capability to input into computer software so I can watch moisture changes over time on a curve. This would allow me to air-dry to where I know the wood is stable, then push the bound water out in my solar kiln.

Features that I could take or leave include the calibration device in cap (convenient but I make a “kit” for everything, so separate calibration device doesn't bother me). I'm pretty good about turning tools off, so the auto-off power feature isn't a big selling point for me...but it's better to have it than not. I do get distracted now and then.

I'm one of those “check under the hood types.” I really like the fact that the operating tempurature range goes past the freezing and boiling points of water. This tells me that my curves will always be accurate. The 4.9 oz. weight is no biggie to me, but it would be a huge selling point if I had to carry this bad-boy all day.

In our world of small electronic devices, the 6.6”x2.7”x1.25” size is really nice for handheld use...especially for us guys. I was so glad when smart-phones came out...killing the thimble-sized cell phone craze.

I'll be testing the General Tools & Instrument MMD8P moisture meter out and will let you know how it performs.