Can You Cut Wet Wood with a Circular Saw?

What is the Best Tool to Cut Wet Wood

Can you cut wet wood with a circular saw? It’s probably a question you have in mind right now in a situation where you’re about to work in a block of wet wood, and you only have a circular saw.

A circular saw can’t cut wet wood, and it’s dangerous since wet wood gets warp. Circular saws have a fine-tooth blade, so there’s a chance that it will load and bind on the damp wood. A chainsaw or other coarse-toothed saws are a more suitable tool for the job.

Find out why it’s risky to cut wet wood using a circular saw. You’ll also have a better understanding of how to work on moist lumbers.

What is the Best Tool to Cut Wet Wood?

As mentioned, a chainsaw is the best tool to cut wet wood because it’s already lubricated with a chain oil to keep it from functioning well. So, the extra moisture on the wood won’t make any difficulty in cutting, and the chainsaw will still run through normally.

Water on the wood may be a problem in cutting, but there’s no need to worry when using a chainsaw. However, make sure to keep your working site clean and free from standing water to avoid losing your foot balance.

Will Exposure to Rain Hurt the Wood?

Can You Cut Wet Wood with a Circular Saw

Exposure to rain or other wet conditions for a prolonged period can hurt the wood. Woods are all water-resistant because the glue used in manufacturing them are waterproof. However, it doesn’t guarantee that the lumber can survive extended exposure to wet conditions.

When Will Rot in the Wood Takes Place?

Wood rot starts when the moisture content reaches 20 percent of the wood. It is a gradual process wherein fungi begin to develop and feed on the cellulose in the lumber. Within 48 hours of continuous exposure to wet situations, mold spores may be already visible.

How to Avoid Wood Breakdown from Wet Conditions?

The solution is to prevent or eliminate your wood from getting wet. If it’s impossible because you are working in open areas, you have to get rid of the water quickly. 

All your woods should be dry out quick, and sweep standing water right away. You can also cover your lumber, but don’t wrap it too tight because they also have to breathe. 

Then, put your wood where there’s a proper humidity to ensure it will be at the correct EMC when building time comes. As a rule of thumb, give the wood at least 4 inches higher from the ground so that air can get through under the cover.

How Long Does It Take for Wood to Dry Out?

Generally, drying out damp wood takes approximately one year per inch of wood thickness. It is the amount of time investment that a woodworker needs to wait when air-drying lumbers. For most wood manufacturers, it is the amount of time they expect to create woodworking lumber like plywood.

The Power of Using a Kiln

A Kiln helps control the drying process of wood, especially the thick ones. It is a large insulated chamber or room used to control and balance temperature, airflow, and humidity. The goal of using Kiln is to bring down the moisture level of wood safely. Through Kiln, wood can dry evenly and uniformity resulting in a quicker drying process. 

What are the Drying defects of a Kiln?

A kiln is beneficial in scorching woods, but there are some drying effects associated with using Kiln.

  • Case Hardening

Improper scheduling of when to use Kiln, and not using corrective measures gives internal stresses into the wood. It results in a condition called Case Hardening. The kind of defect that happens when the outer shell starts to dry too fast than the core. As an effect, the exterior shrinks but the inside remains wet.

  • Honeycombing

As the core starts to get dry, and the outer part continuously shrinks. It causes extreme case hardening conditions, wherein the center can split and check in an irreversible condition called honeycombing.

Is It Okay for Plywood to Get Wet?

Is It Okay for Plywood to Get Wet

Almost all exterior plywood and oriented strand board (OSB) that carries the American Plywood Association (APA) trademark are 100 percent waterproof.

These are the products that you can trust. It means that the glues used to stick wood strands are water-resistant. They are from factories that manufacture a durable class of woods.

However, as mentioned, too much wet can make rotten wood. So, it is okay for plywoods to get wet, but, again, too much soaked in water will destroy the material. Water can’t give any damage to the wood unless there’s constant contact for an extended period.

How to Measure Moisture Content of Wood?

There are two ways to measure the moisture content of the wood. It’s either oven-dry testing or use of moisture meter.

1. Oven-Dry Testing

It is a traditional way of measuring moisture content, wherein it involves drying the wood in a well-ventilated oven or Kiln for a long time. It is also the most accurate and efficient way of measuring moisture content, but it takes a very long time. After completing the drying cycle, it requires verification of the weight of both blocks of wood.

Then, the process starts from the beginning until the mass of the wood stops changing. The difference between the weight of dried out lumber and the mass of the wood’s original weight gives you an accurate percent of moisture content on the lumber.

2. Moisture Meter

Using a Moisture Meter is faster compared to Oven Dry Testing. It doesn’t take a prolonged period. This modern method will give you a fast and accurate reading of the moisture content on the wood. Plus, it comes in different types.

  • Pin-Type Meters

It involves two or more electrodes in measuring the wood’s moisture content using electrical resistance. Higher resistance to the electric current means drier lumber and vice versa. However, Pin Meters will leave tiny holes on the wood as they test the moisture level. It’s because you have to penetrate the meter into the lumber to get an accurate reading.

How to use Pin-Type Meters?

Using a Pin-Type Meter is simple. You have to insert the pins into the wood that you want to test and activate the meter. There’s an electrical current passing from the badge to the lumber, and back to the pin. Then, the Pin-Type meter will give you an accurate reading based on the current resistance.

  • Pinless Moisture Meters

It uses a specialized scanning plate passing electromagnetic waves through the wood to determine the moisture level. It doesn’t leave any tiny holes on the wood. However, using Pinless meters requires completing a contact between the scanning plate and the wood to get an accurate measurement.

How to use Pinless Moisture Meters?

In using Pinless Moisture Meters, all you need to do is to secure it against the wood and press the base of the scanning plate. Activate the meter, and it will scan the moisture content. The good thing is that Pinless meters are faster compared to pin-type meters.


How to Dry Wet Wood Fast?

There’s no easy and fast way to dry wet woods. It requires time and patience, especially for thick lumber. You have to wait until the core dries entirely both inside and out. The good news is that you can still work and cut wet wood using a chainsaw.

How Dry Should Wood Be for Woodworking?

Generally, the most acceptable moisture level of wood depends on the type, its thickness, and the average relative humidity (RH) in an environment where you will use the wood. However, based on standard guidelines, it should be 6 to 8 percent for indoors and 9 to 14 percent for construction.

How much Thickness a Circular Saw Cut?

A circular saw is a powerful tool that can cut wood, steel, masonry, and ceramic tile provided that uses the appropriate blade for each material.

Final Words

A chainsaw is safer to use over a circular saw when it comes to wet woods. As a general rule, always dry out the woods first before cutting them. However, since it takes time to dry wet lumber, most woodworkers prefer using other saws to start their wood projects.

Woods from trusted manufacturers are water-resistant, but it doesn’t mean that they can withstand too much water exposure. If they have extended water contact, it may result in breaking down. So, it’s essential to dry the wood and eliminate all standing water. Better yet, always keep them dry.

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