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I've recently acquired a plank of roughly cut, dipped in wax Ebony. The piece is roughly 5ft x 8in x 2.5in.

I've got a lot that I'd like to do with this piece - the largest of which is a decorative item that will use about 2ft of the plank.

What is the best way to go about getting the wood ready to work? Should I cut the plank into the smaller pieces that I need or work on drying out the whole thing?

I've read that with Ebony, one should really take their time - but I'm also itchin' to get working. Are there any tried and true methods to help speed up the drying process?

I probed the Ebony with a moisture meter on the end and in the middle and the readings were: 16.1% in the middle, 10.4% on an end. (Portland, Oregon is where I am and where this board has been sitting)

Here's an image of the goods, btw:

enter image description here

  • When you say "dipped in wax", do you mean the whole thing, or just the ends? – Martin Bonner supports Monica Apr 6 '18 at 9:16
  • This board is valuable as wood goes, and could get much more valuable in time as one or more of the species we collectively refer to as ebony are set to become unobtainable as new stock (at least one is already). So I would proceed cautiously just on general principle, which would ideally mean drying it whole. Now that said, the first thing you need to know I guess is how dry it is currently. Are you assuming it needs further drying or have you checked with a moisture meter? – Graphus Apr 6 '18 at 11:17
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    BTW there is a simple answer to the title question: as slowly as possible. – Graphus Apr 6 '18 at 11:18
  • @MartinBonner - the whole thing is covered. I'm getting that this question will be vastly improved by a baseline moisture measure...stay tuned please, I can get that this weekend. – user4781 Apr 6 '18 at 15:10
  • @Graphus - I'll report back with the moisture - I haven't checked yet. Just made some assumptions that, given our Portland weather, it wasn't all that dry. At $80/BF - I'd say it's already pretty darn costly. >_< – user4781 Apr 6 '18 at 15:12
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Given the value of this piece of wood, I'd say trying to speed things up is not a good idea.

You could remove the wax from the middle, so the moisture has some sort of chance to exit via the surface.


One thing you might want to check, is your moisture reading. Most moisture meters just apply a voltage to the wood and measure the (tiny) current, and then turn that into a moisture reading via some sort of look up table. The lookup table is probably correct for construction timber - it wouldn't surprise me to discover that the resistance of ebony is rather different. (Being denser, it will have a naturally higher conductivity so the moisture may actually be rather lower.)

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  • How would one test the reading? I used a probe type meter that spit out a content value. Testing with the included resistor showed an accurate reading and testing on some construction ready pine gave a convincingly low reading as well. So, hardwoods would have a diff. lookup table? – user4781 Apr 8 '18 at 15:08
  • @Corey: I would try contacting the meter manufacturer, and seeing what they suggest. But at the moment, you know the ends are drier than the middle - just wait until it is all the same. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Apr 9 '18 at 5:24
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    There are conversion tables for moisture content and measured resistance. I was unable to find a table containing values for ebony, however this publication has plenty of wood species as well as details lumber characteristics and moisture content, and you might be able to extrapolate for ebony: fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr06.pdf – Eli Iser Apr 9 '18 at 19:14
  • @EliIser - nice find! @ Martin - Thanks a bunch for your help. A lot of SE's come off as 'stfu noob'-like for new users...It's nice woodworking.SE doesn't seem to have that. I really appreciate your advice! – user4781 Apr 9 '18 at 19:48
  • @EliIser That's awesome, great to know about that. – Graphus Apr 10 '18 at 11:22

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