Analyzing Moisture In Wood and Wood Products
Analyzing Moisture In Wood and Wood Products

Analyzing Moisture In Wood and Wood Products

Moisture meters, essential tools for quality control in a woodshop, measure the amount of water in lumber. This lets you determine if it is at a suitable content level for the intended use. This is critical. If moisture content runs too high or low, it can lead to shrinkage, cupping, crowning, buckling or cracking, among other problems.

While optimal moisture content will vary by species and application, as a general rule for fine furniture and other indoor products, 6 to 8 percent is a good target.

The two most common types of moisture meters are pin and pinless. Pin-type moisture meters, also known as resistance meters, operate using the principal of electrical resistance. By driving two or more pins into the wood, a direct current travels from one pin to the other, while measuring the resistance to that current. As you might expect, moist wood conducts more current than dry. The meter then correlates the amount of resistance to the wood’s moisture content.

Pinless meters, also known as electromagnetic wave technology meters, measure the moisture content without piercing the wood. These meters instead send electrical waves through a sensor that is pressed against the wood, creating an electromagnetic field within the wood. The electromagnetic field measures the capacity of wood to store energy, the amount of power the wood absorbs from the field or the wood’s resistance to the field. The pinless meter then translates all this information to percent moisture content.

What follows are some of the moisture meter products available in the marketplace for custom woodworking manufacturers and contractors. For a complete list of suppliers of pin and pinless hand-held meters, as well as for larger moisture measure systems, check out the Plant Production chapter at

Lignomat USA’s pinless moisture meter, the Ligno Scanner SDM, is designed for measuring moisture without damaging the surface. It enables wood cabinet and furniture makers to choose the measuring depth; the feature is suitable when boards thinner than 3/4 in. are used, or when boards are not dried evenly, and the difference between core and surface moisture can be measured by toggling between ¼ in. and 3/4 in. deep. (503) 257-8957,

Among the moisture meters offered by Delmhorst Instrument, the J-2000 hand-held moisture meter is suitable for flooring, and  general and painting contractors checking a variety of different wood species. The J-2000 has a bright digital display, 48 built-in wood species corrections and temperature correction capabilities. (877) DELMHORST,
Wagner Meters has provided moisture measurement technology to the wood products industry for 40 years. The company says it aims to deliver superior, non-invasive MC measurement technology and solutions to anyone requiring accurate moisture measurement. (800) 933- 3512,

The Moisture Meter Co. LLC offers the entire product range of moisture meters from AB Brookhuis to Holland. This includes a wide variety of hand-held meters as well as in-line fully automatic and integrated measuring systems. The latest series, Brookhuis FMW, allows for non-marking measurement of moisture on any flat surface or frame material. (877) 785-0274,

Available from Moisture Register Products, the Model DC-200 is designed and calibrated to test the moisture content of lumber, wood products, and surfaces to be painted. The company says the product weighs less than 8 oz, features an easy-to-read LED display, and provides fast and accurate digital moisture readout in the range of 5% to 65% moisture content. (800) 966-4788,

Electrophysics offer both pin and pinless hand-held moisture meters. The CT100 pinless model features a 1-in. depth sensing, with electronic species compensation. It also has a conversion chart for fiberglass percent readings and can perform readings on drywall, paper, etc. (800) 244-9908,

For larger production requirements, GreCon offers a variety of online moisture meter analyzer systems for the continuous control of moisture content  throughout the process. (503) 641-7731,

Electronic Wood Systems North America offers a wide range of moisture meter measuring systems, including contact and non-contact products. The VenScan is a non-contact, continuous and automated system that measures the moisture of wood strips, sheets, and panels. (503) 643-6305,


Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.