There are mysteries in the world, and then there are mysteries to me. I admit that I still have to think twice and speak slowly when I correlate temperature and humidity. I recall looking at the charts that show the relationship between the two and feeling a slight dizzying effect and vision blurring. Maybe I just didn't want to put in the effort. For general green woodworking I get it, wood loses or takes on moisture as it reaches equilibrium with it's environment. If you want wood to dry, put it in a drier environment.
The best way that I came to understand the concept was that when the wood stops losing or gaining weight, it is "air dry", or equal to the moisture in the environment. This got the concept through my skull, and I've even rigged a scale that didn't give me numbers, but let me know when the weight was stable.
But all that has changed thanks to my friend Nick Clayton, who has graciously loaned me a scientific scale. Now I can accurately track the way that my parts lose weight. Of course, my usual rules of thumb still work fine, but it is fun and fascinating to watch the wood adjust. I also plan to do some test with my steamer to see if the wood picks up more weight or loses it through the steaming process and whether my auxiliary water tank affects it. This will tell me if passing the steam through water is adding moisture to the process and aiding in softening the fibers and conducting the heat.
So with my nerd hat firmly in place, I will be looking at the same old processes through a more accurate lens.
I have an exciting announcement! Tim Manney, the fantastic chair and tool maker, has started a blog. Tim is one of the brightest and most talented woodworkers that I know. He has a remarkably broad experience with different types of woodworking and makers and I am very excited that he has started sharing his thoughts. Check him out and leave a message welcoming him, I know you will enjoy it.