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Expansion and shrinking of woodFeatured science projectScience project video

Abstract

This science fair project was conducted to better understand how different types of wood shrink and expand when exposed to moisture. The science project experiment involved redwood, teak, black oak and red maple woods.

Hypothesis

Wood of all types will expand when they absorb moisture and shrink when they lose moisture.

Scientific Terms

Moisture, expansion, contraction

Background

Expansion and shrinkage in woods

Trees are just like all other living organisms that consist mainly of water. When wood has just been cut, it will still have a very high level of moisture content and cannot be used as firewood or for woodworking. The wood has to be dried in either an open space or in an oven. Ideally, the wood should first attain the same humidity as its surrounding environment, before it becomes useful.

The expansion and contraction of wood is caused by the surrounding humidity than thermal factors. A higher humidity in the surrounding air will cause wood to expand whereas a lower humidity will cause the wood to shrink. The expansion of the wood will be greater along the growth rings of the wood and less pronounced or almost negligible along the length of the wood.

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Complexity level:
8
Project cost ($):
90
Time required:
1 day to prepare, 1 day for the science project experiment
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Be careful when removing the hot wooden blocks from the oven. Use gloves to protect your hands.