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Hardwoods like maple, oak, and walnut are usually dried thoroughly before entering the market. Excess water just adds weight, driving up transportation costs. And homeowners won't be happy with wet wood, which swells with humidity, leading to doors and cabinets that stick. Industry isn't crazy about the drying process, though, because it takes up to two months. But Oak Ridge National Laboratory expects to trim the process to 10 days.

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