What’s cooking?

Wood; that’s what’s cooking.

Well, it’s actually drying at a low heat in my new kiln.

I came across some awesome thick-cut cherry slabs that have been drying outdoors in a stickered pile for a few years.  I have some great ideas for this wood but before I can use it I have to dry it to a lower moisture content.

When you buy finished wood from a store it has been dried from its 50% moisture level to about 8-10% moisture.  At that level the wood has shrunk about as far as it is going to so it is safe to build with.  Building with green wood can result in cracking, twisting and cupping and could easily ruin your project.

The stickered cherry wood has air dried to about 20% moisture, so I need to get that down to 10%.  At 2 inches thick, I can leave the wood in my heated basement for another year which should get it down to 12%, which is pretty safe to work with.

But I want to get it to 10% or less, and I do not want to wait a year before I can build with it.

The problem is that you cannot just buy a kiln at Home Depot.  Very few woodworkers dry their own wood, so no one makes small kilns.  I could probably find a $100,000 commercial kiln, but I do not have the money or space for one.

So I built my own kiln.

They are really quite simple.  All you need is an insulated box, a heat source and a fan.  You have to maintain the temperature at around 100 degree F and the relative humidity at 40%.

So I made a 2’x2’x4′ plywood box and insulated it with foam.  I put in two 100 W bulbs and an old computer fan to keep the air moving.  I cut some holes in each side and covered them with sliding covers so I can regulate the temperature and humidity.  I also installed a small window so that I can see the thermometer/hygrometer inside the box.  It’s a good thing that I know how to cut glass.

So my first batch of wood went in yesterday.  I hope to have it ready in two weeks, but the frigid temperatures in my unheated garage are keeping the internal temperature a bit low.

You ‘ll know that the wood is ready when you start to see new wood products appearing on the site.

Stay tuned for updates on my adventure in kiln drying wood.

Wally.

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