Moisture Meter Quality and Price

What makes a good moisture meter? March 3, 2006

I'm looking for a moisture meter for:

1) Double checking my kiln operator, so that when he gives me my lumber back at 6%, it is indeed at 6%.
2) Making sure my air drying piles are drying evenly, so that they enter the kiln at as close to the same MC as possible.
3). Getting a reading on billets I buy from time to time, of exotic woods. I slice some of this into pen blanks now, and have no idea if they are dry or semi-dry.
4) Taking readings on my lumber that came out of the kiln eons ago, to see at what rate it's regaining moisture.

Any recommendations?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor D:
Some pin meters cost more, as they have scales that read higher than 30%. The ones that read only below 30% are less expensive and fit the bill on everything you need except checking the air drying. Pinless meters don't usually read over 30% and pin meters are not really accurate over 30%, but they are useful for what you need. The next question is how far into the wood do you need to go? A simple pin meter that sticks pins in sort of like thumb tacks costs about $150 less than a meter with ram-in electrodes. Stick with Lignomat, Delmhorst for pin meters and Wagner for pinless. We have tried them all and these are the best backed and most reliable we have found over the years.

From contributor R:

I keep a Lignomat mini-scanner L in my truck for the same reasons you stated. I've tested it against many brands of pin and pinless meters and it has always read the same or within +-1%. And that includes the old Irvington Moore analog meters. Best hundred bucks I ever spent.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
What contributor D says, I agree with. A pin meter cannot accurately measure 6.0% MC. If you get such a reading, you could be a percent or more drier. For most uses, until you spend about $200, you will not get a reliable, rugged, accurate meter.

From contributor P:
I own the Wagner MMC-220 and have been pleased with this model. When I was in the market for my first meter, I read WOODWEB's archive and learned what I needed. I purchased once and am satisfied.

From contributor J:
Why will a pin type meter not accurately read moisture content at 6%? Is it due to the conductivity of the wood itself versus the water? Are other types superior at the lower end of the scale?

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
At 6.5% MC, the resistance is so high (or conductivity so low) that it becomes difficult to read without going to extremes as far as the equipment goes. The Wagner pinless does go lower and maintains accuracy.

From the original questioner:
Can I perform an accurate reading on a 1"x1"x6" pen blank with a pinless?

From contributor P:
I'd suggest placing multiple blanks side by side for the best readings. My MMC-220 sender area is larger than 1". 2" blanks side by side would probably read better (uses all the sensor area). The 220 can read through 1", so watch what is behind your samples.