how to dry wood fast for woodworking?

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There are a number of ways to dry wood fast, including kilning and sun drying. Kiln drying is perhaps the most common way. There are advantages and disadvantages to both techniques.

Are you a woodworker and need to dry your wood fast?

Wood is typically dried in a kiln, but this can take up to six months. If you’re looking for faster results, we have the solution for you! It’s easy to use and perfect for any skill level.

With a drying box, you don’t have to worry about warping or cracking anymore. Your projects will be safe and sound with us by your side every step of the way. We know how important it is that your pieces come out exactly as planned – so we promise they’ll be perfect when they’re done! And if there’s ever an issue along the way, we’ll make sure that we handle everything quickly and efficiently so that you can get back to what matters most – making art!

kiln drying

Kiln drying requires a large investment in a kiln as well as several other pieces of equipment such as fans, heaters, humidity controls, and stacking racks. The assumption here is that you have already built your own kiln, which many people do build themselves from plans available on the internet.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of building one yourself then it would be best to use an established business for this service that specializes in wood drying. You can find these businesses by searching online for “kiln-drying” and your city’s name. Some examples would be “kiln-dried lumber Cleveland” or “kiln-dried wood Seattle”.

Typically, kiln drying is done with the racks arranged in one or more layers, often at a 45-degree angle to let air flow between them for cross-flow drying. The depth of the racks should be designed so that no piece of wood touches another all the way through the depth of the stack and allow 3-4 inches clearance from the wall of the kiln to accommodate air circulation around pieces on both sides.

A typical load would be about 16 cubic meters (a third full) which means you will need a kiln capable of holding twice that volume. Setting up a system where you can just open the door and shovel wood into the kiln as it is emptied will save a great deal of time.

brown wooden frame close-up photo

A benefit of using kilns for drying is being able to dry lumber all the way down to specific moisture content- usually 8% or less. You can also use a combination of the kiln and solar heating so you can monitor the wood with a hygrometer to control when you take it out. Sun drying, on the other hand, may be difficult to control humidity levels at the desired level (i.e., 14%, 12%, etc.) but can work well if done outdoors in sunny areas year-round with plenty of ventilation provided by fans blowing over racks made up of hay bales, bamboo poles laid flat or any other open mesh structure.

Sun-dried

lumber is typically air-dried down to about 20% moisture content which will let you stack it in your shop for several months or more while you are working on projects without any risk of mold problems. However, kiln drying all the way down to that level would take much too long and cost too much money.

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Advantages:

  • -Safe method for drying wood, does not require open flames or other heat sources with the risk of fire.
  • -Can be done by business specializing in this service so no need to build one’s own kiln unless necessary (takes time, effort and money).

Disadvantages:

  • -Requires large investment in kiln plus equipment needed such as fans, heaters, humidity controls and stacking racks
  • -High cost of initial investment unless already built your own kiln (time, effort and money)
  • -Kilns take up a lot of space; not possible to put them in smaller spaces or where there is limited room (such as in an apartment).

Air Drying

Advantages:

  • -Cheap and easy to do yourself or with family members or friends for small projects. 
  • -Does not require large investment in equipment (i.e., fans, heaters, humidity controls and stacking racks).

Disadvantages:

  • -Requires exposure of wood to the open air which poses increased risk of problems caused by exposure to natural elements such as rain, snow etc. that could cause mold growth on exposed surfaces.
  • -Harder to control moisture content than kiln drying which needs an initial moisture content of 20% or less before it is safe to stack in your shop. However, you can use a combination of kiln and solar heating so you can monitor the wood with a hygrometer to control when you take it out.

Microwave Wood Drying

Advantages:

  • -Cheap and easy to do yourself or with family members or friends for small projects. 
  • -Does not require large investment in equipment (i.e., fans, heaters, humidity controls and stacking racks).
  • -Can dry wood safely down to 12% moisture content so it can be safely stacked in your shop right away without risk of mold problems.

Disadvantages:

  • -Requires exposure of wood to the open air which poses increased risk of problems caused by exposure to natural elements such as rain, snow etc. that could cause mold growth on exposed surfaces.
  • -Microwave drying process is too unpredictable because even if you use the same microwave ovens (the ones at home are around 800W) and the same wattage microwave oven, each batch of wood will be dried within different time frames (some pieces dry more than others).
  • -You cannot control the temperature of individual pieces; you can only set a particular time for microwaves to be on.

Note: If you choose vacuum chamber drying, it is more reliable because you can control humidity levels and temperatures at your desired level (i.e., 14% moisture content).

However, this method costs much more than air and kiln methods which means you need to spend more money or find a business that specializes in this process. Enjoy making things from wood! 🙂 Read how Laura made handmade kitchen utensils using walnut tree branches or download free plans for building raised garden beds with materials you can find at home or that are cheap to buy.

Shed Drying

Advantages:

  • -Wind is the only weather hazard that could be a problem since it would decrease drying speed. However, you can use racks just like for air drying or stack the wood on pallets with holes drilled in them to allow wind to blow through more easily.  
  • -Does not require large investment in equipment (i.e., fans, heaters, humidity controls and stacking racks).

Disadvantages:

  • -Requires some materials for building sheds such as lumber, nails etc. which may have already been used for other projects depending on availability of materials or funds. 
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Changing Methods & Stacking Methods for Storing Dried Wood

  • If your goal was to dry down to 11% moisture content then you would need 4-6 months outdoors or 8-12+ months indoors.
  • If your goal was to dry down to 8% for general use then you could expect up to 3+ years of safe indoor storage without checking on the wood or refilling it with more moisture if humidity levels are low enough in the building.  
  • By stacking the wood off the ground you make sure air can move all around it easily and efficiently allowing it to dry evenly.

NOTE: Timber framing members are typically dried down below 12%, some as low as 9%.

Timber frames are made from green (not dry) timbers that are allowed to season inside the structure they will be used for over a period of years before being painted by some professional companies. It is not recommended that you attempt drying timbers used for frame construction unless you are working on smaller projects or do not mind having to repeat the process in a few years. If you want to know more about what species of wood are best suited for your purpose, look at our article on wood species.

wood it’s that some things take time but they will eventually become seasoned if exposed long enough to the sun and wind. You just need to allow yourself patience because some things cannot be rushed without consequences. So, first comes first: understanding how different methods work before deciding which ones suit your needs best.

Tips For Drying Wood Fast

Some final thoughts to consider when choosing your preferred method are:

  • -A solar kiln requires no equipment cost other than buying racks to stack the wood on.
  • -A solar kiln does not require installation or construction by a third party so it saves you time and money there.
  • -Kilns (whether solar powered or not) allow you to determine how much moisture is left in the wood comfortably without worrying about rain, snow etc. causing problems like mold growth. 
  •   -Air drying may be greenest way to dry your own wood since it will use natural wind currents for fast drying but doe snot require large investments (such as in building a shed).
  • -Shed drying may require some materials and tools (lumber, nails) depending on your availability of those types of items.
  • -A shed drying method is more likely to allow for wind currents to pass through the wood easier than air drying since it will be used as a natural dehumidifier.

Why trust Handyman.Guide?

s written by Itamar Ben-Dor, who has 25 years of experience in renovations, carpentry, locks, creation, landscaping, painting, furniture construction, and furniture renovation, works with concrete, plumbing, door repair, and more.

Itamar Ben-Dor has been in the home improvement business for over 25 years. Itamar Ben-Dor is a jack of all trades. He's worked in the renovation field for years, doing everything from locksmithing to carpentry. He's a small repairs specialist. But his true passion lies in furniture construction and renovation - he loves seeing old pieces come back to life with some new woodwork or a fresh coat of paint.

He has taken courses on many topics in these fields at professional colleges in Israel. Over the years, Itamar has also become quite skilled in gardening, carpentry, and renovations. He's worked on projects of all sizes, from massive renovations to small repairs. No job is too big or too small for him!


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Itamar Ben Dor

Itamar Ben Dor

My father is a practical engineer, and as a hobby he was also involved in construction, renovations, carpentry and woodwork at home; So there was always tools, saws, drills and more at home. Already I was a little kid Dad and I would renovate the house. Once we built a shed for garden tools, once we did flooring for the garden, once we renovated the bathroom and that’s the way it is. Long before there was an internet, directories and plans. We would build things, kitchen cabinets, install electrical appliances, do flooring, pour concrete and more ... I in this blog want to pass on to you the experience I have gained over the last 20 plus-minus years since I was a child to this day and give you information about the best tools, project plans, guides and more.

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