These Are Drying Times

Many of us woodworkers experience low humidity in Winter – ever listen to your furniture pop and snap as the wood gives in to the dryness? As we move into Spring, the air again gains in moisture and often you can hear your furniture swell back toward fullness. These are drying times.

The same thing happens in the shop. Although because most shops are not as airtight as our living spaces, the trip from overly dry to moisture-laden can be more dramatic. As a result, machine and tool rust is sometimes a problem. Also, if you live in an area where high humidity levels are a common occurrence, you deal with rust on a regular basis – a seasonal South Carolina woodworker who I know wrestles with rust on many of his trips south.

Another friend has his shop in his garage. For him, however, Winter’s lower humidity levels are not such a problem in his shop – his dryer vent empties into the garage, and that keeps levels somewhat even throughout the colder months. His problems come around about this time each year. As the air begins to creep up in humidity, the dryer air accelerates the climb. Last year after discovering his problem, he spent time cleaning light rust off each and every tool stored in his shop cabinets. Yuk!

Corrective Action

This year he vowed to take action, and he did. He purchased a 5-pound tub of silica gel desiccant and cotton drawstring bags to make his own drying packets. The tub of blue, large-beaded gel beads filled 19 bags, which he then deposited in various drawers in the shop prone to promote rust on tools.

These beads are rechargeable. When the blue turns pink, he tosses them into an oven to dry then for another use.

If you deal with high humidity levels, what secrets or tips can you share?

— Glen D. Huey 

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