Pinless Moisture Meters: A Beginner’s Guide
A pinless moisture meter could be exactly what you need to make your woodworking or flooring projects successful.
By using a pinless meter, you can avoid moisture-related failures like warping, cracking, splitting, and more. Your projects will be successful, and your clients will be happy!
But you might be wondering, “What’s the difference between pin meters and pinless meters?”
If so, you’re in the right place!
In this article, we will talk about everything you need to know about pinless moisture meters:
Let’s get into it!
What are pinless moisture meters, and why might you need one?
Put simply, a pinless moisture meter is just that: a moisture meter without pins! But let’s unpack that a bit.
A pin meter has two pins that have to penetrate the wood in order to obtain a moisture content (MC) reading. Once inserted, the reading is taken between the tips of the pins at whatever depth they are inserted.
On the other hand, a pinless meter has a sensor pad that emits radio waves. These waves measure the wood’s MC but aren’t limited to only measuring between the pins as with a pin meter. Rather, these radio-type waves can measure MC deeper, across a larger area, and faster than pin meters (more on that in a moment).
The sensor pad must make contact with the wood’s surface and must be flush with the surface in order to provide an accurate measurement, but it does not damage the surface of the wood in any way.
Yes, these meters take readings without any pins, which also means that there is no need to damage your product with pinholes!
But you might be wondering why you would need a pinless moisture meter.
A pinless moisture meter can help ensure that you won’t run into any moisture-related problems with your projects. And if there is a moisture problem, a pinless meter can help you make the right decisions to address it. If you want project success, you need to use a moisture meter. You can learn more about that on our page all about the “why” of moisture measurement.
Now that we have an idea of what makes a pinless meter different from a pin meter, let’s talk about how pinless meters work in detail.
How do pinless meters work?
Pinless meters exhibit technology for quickly and easily measuring moisture content in a piece of wood or other smooth-surface materials, such as drywall.
We have already discussed how a pinless meter uses radio-type waves with a sensor pad on the back of the meter to determine the MC of the wood.
But let’s get specific. How do you use a pinless moisture meter?
It’s easy as pie, especially with the Bessemeter pinless moisture meters. Simply follow these steps:
- Make sure the surface that you’re measuring is visibly dry (no water droplets on the surface)
- Make sure your surface is smooth and free of debris
- Turn on your meter
- Input the wood species
- Make sure the sensor pad is flush with the surface of the wood and press firmly onto the wood before you…
- Take your measurement
Besides the technology and steps of how a moisture meter works, there are several other things to consider that will make the reading process different from that of a pin meter. These are also some major pros of a pinless meter!
- Dual-depth readings
Unlike a pin meter, which measures the MC between the tips of the pins regardless of depth, some pinless meters can take MC readings down to specific depths. A good-quality pinless meter may feature dual-depth readings. This means that you can get precise, accurate readings down to two distinct depths. These readings are usually ¼ and ¾ inches below the surface of the wood, and for most projects, these depths are exactly what you need.
Pinless meters are decidedly faster than pin meters because you don’t have to be constantly hammering pins into the wood to get a reading. This is especially true with hardwood species, as it can be difficult to insert pins into them.
Instead of laboriously measuring one point at a time as you would with a pin meter, you can use a pinless meter to scan and measure larger areas in less time. You don’t have to get bogged down with constantly pulling out pins and reinserting them across the length of wood or on multiple pieces of the wood to get an accurate picture of the MC of a stack of wood.
Several things can impact a pinless moisture meter’s accuracy, such as a visibly wet wood surface, improper contact between the wood and the sensor pad, debris on the wood’s surface, the wrong wood species setting, or the meter being out of calibration.
In general, however, a pinless meter is more accurate than a pin meter in the following ways:
- Pinless meters are faster and more efficient to use, meaning that you won’t be tempted to cut corners while assessing your wood’s moisture condition.
- Being able to take multiple readings more efficiently means that you’ll obtain a better overall picture of the MC of your wood.
- According to third party studies on other pinless moisture meters, pinless readings tend to be more accurate.
Pinless moisture meter cons
We’ve just listed some of the pros for pinless moisture meters, but what are some of the cons? If you’re on the fence about buying a pinless meter, these are some things you should consider too.
Not good for curved or rough surfaces
Pinless meters need a flat, smooth, debris-free surface in order to provide an accurate MC reading.
So, if you are often working with surfaces that are curved, like turned table legs or other decorative elements, it may be difficult to get a measurement with a pinless moisture meter.
Affected by surface moisture
If your wood has visible water droplets on it—as in, it’s been sitting outside in the rain—you would have to take care to dry the wood off before taking an MC measurement.
Because a pinless moisture meter measures from the surface of the wood, any standing water on the surface would skew the measurement.
Pinless meter buying guide
If you want the absolute essentials of buying a pinless meter, this section is right up your alley. If you want a more extensive buying guide, you can read ours!
What it comes down to is that you want to make sure that you are purchasing the meter that works best for you. It’s also worth considering that what you pay for is usually what you get when it comes to moisture meters.
Here are some key features you should look for when considering a pinless meter.
First, does the moisture meter offer an appropriate range for moisture content readings? You want to ensure that your moisture meter will measure content ranges between 6% and 20%. And at Bessemeter, our DualScan Pinless meter can read moisture content between 6% and 32%!
Second, does the meter have built-in wood species settings to ensure accurate readings for the type of wood you’re using? All of Bessemeter’s pinless meters feature easily adjustable hardwood and softwood species settings.
You want to make sure that you are purchasing your meter from a trusted brand that values quality products. Over at Bessemeter, we are committed to providing quality products at a competitive price.
It really is true that your initial investment in a moisture meter will pay off in the long run. A pinless meter that is quick and accurate will save you time, uphold your reputation, and give you assurance in the quality of your wood product. You’ll also not have to worry about purchasing replacement pins like you would for a pin meter.
At the end of the day, if you are working with large volumes of wood, such as for flooring and cabinetry projects, or simply don’t want to put holes in your wood projects, a pinless moisture meter is is exactly what you need to have your projects end in success.
And whatever your measure of quality might be, you won’t be disappointed with a Bessemeter pinless meter. We guarantee a high-quality product that will make your woodworking projects faster, more accurate, and all-around more effortless.
Want to know more? You can check out the product page for our Bessemeter DS500 DualScan pinless meter to learn more!