I don't have a shop. My reclaimed wood and what little lumber I have are stored in my shed which doubles as workshop and yard storage. As such it is subject to winter and while it is protected from the elements it is affected by temperature.

Should I not build anything with these materials while they are cold? I might be building very simple cabinets in my mudroom for storage in the near future. Don't want temperature to be a factor that will warp the design.

Bring the materials indoors to give them time to warm up to room temperature before assembly possibly?

  • 1
    I'd be more afraid of humidity than temperature, difference between "dry" outside and inside heated rooms being 15-18% versus 8-10%, so roughly 10% difference or 1/3 of the possible range to saturation. That means 1/3 of the maximum possible shrinkage. Which e.g. for beech means 3% tangential and 0.1% longitudinal. So a board half a meter broad and two meters long shrink by 2mm in one direction and 1.5 centimeters (!) in the other. Anything unanticipated in the "centimeters" range is definitively a no-fun condition.
    – Damon
    Mar 25, 2015 at 7:52

1 Answer 1


I would certainly worry about assembly in the cold, and anything you are going to glue needs to be above 50F for the glue to work properly anyway. Moisture is the bigger worry, and in the northern climes winter is pretty dry, add cold to that and you are looking at issues when the project warms up and is exposed to more moisture. So yes, I would recommend assembly in a warmer place after the parts have warmed to ambient temps. If you are assembling them in the room they will stay that is even better, and letting them sit for a week to normalize the moisture content even more so.

  • What if the project is to remain outdoors?
    – Matt
    Mar 25, 2015 at 15:37
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    @Matt Then there is a bit less to worry about, though you don't really want to put it together in the coldest dryest part of the year nor the hottest wettest part either since those are the extremes it will have to deal with.
    – bowlturner
    Mar 25, 2015 at 15:42
  • Your advice is always welcome. Thanks bowlturner
    – Matt
    Mar 27, 2015 at 12:23
  • Here is a citation for "let them sit for a week to normalize the moisture content"
    – Jasper
    Oct 3, 2015 at 18:25

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