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Do you know that the common kitchen oven may be used to dry small pieces of wood?
A traditional oven will be able to efficiently dry small pieces of wood for woodworking and for crafts. This is not an ideal way to dry wood but it can be a good alternative for a kiln or air drying if you need to use wood fast.
Drying times and kilns
It can take about a year for wood to completely dry which is why most woodworkers use the stacking method or air drying technique to achieve the best moisture levels.
As a general rule, you must allow at least one year of drying time per inch of wood thickness.
Therefore if you want to dry a large piece of lumber then you need to wait for a very long time. If you don’t have time to wait, then there are some easy and faster ways to completely dry wood.
A kiln is used to enhance the drying process. There are a variety of kilns used to dry lumber but these share a similar design. A kiln has a large insulated chamber to balance and control humidity, temperature, and airflow. This will safely and efficiently reduce moisture and dry wood quickly.
Kilns dry wood much more evenly, reducing any of moisture differences between the outer shell and the inner core of the wood. Thus, a kiln dries wood quickly and prevents the common drying defects associated with rapid and uneven drying like warping, splitting and cracking.
Using an oven to dry wood
Using a traditional oven is risky. The temperature regulation mechanism of a traditional oven may fail or may give inaccurate readings and this can drastically affect the way your wood is seasoned.
However, if you are just drying small pieces of wood then, it could be an alternative for you. Here are the steps to do it.
Things you will need
- Traditional kitchen oven
- Oven thermometer
- Microwave (optional)
- Oven toaster (optional)
Arrange the racks in your kitchen oven so that one is at the bottom and the other is in the center of the oven. The size of wood that you will dry should be large enough to fit freely inside the oven without touching the walls and touching other pieces of wood.
Put an oven thermometer on the far right corner of the center rack. Place a large sheet pan on the bottom oven rack to catch any drippings or bits of wood that may fall off.
Now set the temperature of the oven. It should be as close to 218 degrees Fahrenheit as possible.
Power on the convection fan in your oven. This will circulate the air freely inside the oven chamber. Check the oven thermometer after 15 minutes have passed. You must adjust the oven settings until the internal temperature is between 210 and 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Load the wood on the center rack so no two are touching. Place the smaller pieces carefully so that these do not fall through. Dry the wood in about an hour.
Check the internal temperature using a moisture meter. Do this with two different pieces of wood from the oven. Place the wood back in the oven if the desired moisture-level percentage has not been reached. Dry the wood 15 minutes between each retest.
Put the wood on a wire cooling rack in a dry room when these are ready.
Using other home-based methods
As interesting as it may sounds, there are other household appliances that can be used to dry wood. The microwave is one; it can dry wood faster than any conventional oven but you need to maintain internal temperature at all times.
You can use a conventional toaster or oven toaster. But again, it might be difficult to maintain temperature using these methods. Also if you want to consider these methods, use a second hand or old microwave oven or toaster.
The tannins and other chemicals in the wood will make conventional ovens unusable.
Drying wood is important in woodworking, crafts, and firewood. Dry wood makes excellent building and heating material but you cannot rush drying. Therefore, you must only use a conventional oven and other kitchen appliance as your last resort.