I am building a Swampscott Dory as per "The Dory Book" by John Gardner. What I am doing is using local wood (Red Cedar) and mills. As such, I am starting from the log, milling it, and then making my boat. Question is, how long should I wait for my planks to dry before placing them on the boat. I am not using glue (all copper clench nails and wood screws) and all the wood is cut to my liking (quarter sawn). So how long should I wait from mill to boat? Log has been sitting out for about a year, but it was a 23" diameter log.

  • You definitely don't want the wood to shrink after you make the boat, that's for sure! Great question and looking forward to the answer :D Apr 11, 2015 at 1:55

3 Answers 3


I was trying to find the answer to something else and realized there was a section in this book called, Modern Woodworking Techniques. It is a conglomeration of articles from the magazine Fine Woodworking. On page 124, they talk about drying your wood. It says that the "old-timers" rule of thumb is a year of air drying per inch of thickness, but ultimately you'll need to use a moisture meter to periodically test a sample board. Air drying will get you down to about 12% moisture content, unless you live in a very dry climate. For that matter, things like humidity, temperature, drying set-up (how you arrange your wood), and thickness has the most bearing on how fast your wood will dry. In other words, there is no set drying time ... it will take what it will take. There is no real way for us to give you a speculative answer as to how long it's going to take. You'll need to get a meter to tell you what the moisture content is and go from there.


Ok, thanks for all the contributions, but the answer seems to be almost right away. I found a website that explored the historical aspects of wooden boat building. What I discovered was that the chief advantages of "clinker" boats is that the wood can be relatively green when building the boat. I also got a moisture meter and I am currently at 18%, down from 32% a week ago (all air dry with stickers throughout). Clinker construction


As Paulster said, it takes time and the best way to know when you are done is to use a moisture meter.

While the log did some drying over the course of the year, They dry very slowly compared to boards. And since you had it cut quarter-sawn the boards are going to be dryer on one side than the other because the end closer to the center will have more moisture. You would have saved yourself a lot of time having it milled right away, and then waiting for the year or so to let it all dry. Quite likely you have another year of waiting. You can of course have it kiln dried and if you find someone with a solar kiln it could take a week or two.

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