Does wood need to breathe?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

Does wood need to breathe?

Postby lament » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:37 pm

It is my understanding that many problems with wood are caused by changing moisture content due to changes in atmospheric humidity.
Wouldn't sealing a (properly cured, of course) piece of wood with a finish impervious to moisture eliminate all humidity-related problems? What am I missing? Does wood need to breathe?
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Re: Does wood need to breathe?

Postby Tarbaby » Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:00 am

Good question, lament.

I had a friend whose guitar case was hermetically sealed. No air could get in or out. (It even made a little whooshing noise when you opened it). Inside was a built-in humidity gauge. He would use (or not use) a Dampit to control the humidity.

It will be interesting to see what the luthiers say!

Alan
"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." - C.S. Lewis

Languages: English, German, Classical Guitar.
2003 Sergio Abreu; 1976 Granada
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Re: Does wood need to breathe?

Postby jfdana » Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:05 am

It's dead, at least by the time it becomes a guitar.
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Re: Does wood need to breathe?

Postby Eric Reid » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:21 am

lament wrote:It is my understanding that many problems with wood are caused by changing moisture content due to changes in atmospheric humidity.
Wouldn't sealing a (properly cured, of course) piece of wood with a finish impervious to moisture eliminate all humidity-related problems? What am I missing? Does wood need to breathe?


That finish doesn't exist. All finishes "breathe". Thin finishes pant. (And thick finishes damp.) There's room to argue that a bit of finish on the inside of a guitar might protect against very brief humidity variation, but after a few days at most, the wood will start to move.

A hermetically sealed case could offer protection, or it could make things worse if the temperature varied.
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Re: Does wood need to breathe?

Postby Lance Litchfield » Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:35 am

What Eric said....there are water proof finishes, but there are no vapour proof ones. There are also things called pinholes, fissures etc in finishes that would let moisture in. Perhaps one can slow it a bit but never stop it altogether.
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