Anyone involved in woodworking knows that quality takes time. The same thing true of drying the wood we use. Drying wood quickly is great for lumber in house and commercial construction projects, but not so great for lumber for fine woodworking. The reason for drying wood is to produce a stable wood, with reduced cracking, and increased strength.
You may have found a sawmill that will supply you with green lumber, and you’re considering having it kiln-dried. (The sawyer should be able to put you in touch with kiln operators in the vicinity.) If that’s the case, you’ll want to know a few things about kiln-drying.
The main advantage to air-drying lumber is that you can do it yourself for free. Once you’ve built a drying rack, your only cost is for transportation from the sawmill. And you’ll find that the price of green lumber at the sawmill is substantially lower than dried lumber from the kiln or the or the distributor.
Well, I could go into a really long speech about designing and building your own solar kiln. Then an even longer speech about the actual drying process. But there are more in depth articles already on the internet written by experts in the lumber industry. So I will just give you a quick overview and point the way to everything you need to know about solar kilns, solar kiln plans, and the process of solar kiln drying.
So far as drying lumber in kilns is concerned, the focus should always be on economically lowering moisture content to a level that satisfies customers. In most cases, that means drying lumber as quickly as possible to a moisture level it will reach in final use, while keeping quality and volume yield as high as practical.
The problem is that wood shrinks as it loses moisture and gets bigger as it gains moisture. This means that improperly dried would will shrink or expand. This can cause a huge array of problems, from creaky stairs to sagging decks, wobbly chairs to warped tables, tilting homes to lopsided structures of all kinds.
A variety of wood drying kiln technologies exist today: conventional, de-humidification, solar, vacuum and radio frequency. Conventional wood dry kilns are either package-type or track-type construction. Most hardwood lumber kilns are side-loader kilns in which fork trucks are used to load lumber packages into the kiln. Most softwood lumber kilns are track types in which lumber packages are loaded on kiln/track cars for loading the kiln.
Getting a load of freshly cut lumber can bring out several emotions.
First, the excitement from getting your hands on the rawest of raw
materials. Then the anticipation of fine, quality boards for your
projects. Finally, panic sets in as you try to figure out what to do
before it checks, bows and twists its way into the firewood pile. Fortunately, air drying your lumber outdoors is the easiest, least
expensive way to dry lumber with minimal waste.
Home-made electric, indoor wood drying kiln
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