Woodworkers prefer to use dry wood for their projects for many reasons. However, wet wood, or green lumber as it is sometimes called, has annoying attributes that can affect your project.
Things like warping or splitting of edges become common places when anyone uses wet wood.
Sometimes, woodworkers are lucky to purchase dry wood; other times, they are not that lucky and end up with moisture-laden wood.
Wood drying becomes paramount in this instance to improve the quality of the wood and finished project. Trees have a lot of water, and freshly cut lumber can contain up to 80% moisture content.
Other times, it’s not from freshly cut wood; poor storage can cause wood to accumulate a high moisture level and make it difficult to use.
Drying the wood fast is the go-to step for woodworkers looking to use the wood for projects. There are several ways to dry wet lumber, but not all can do it fast.
Most woodworkers will not have the time to wait long for the wood to dry before using it. This is why fast methods of drying wood are highly sought after.
This guide shows you ways to dry wood fast for woodworking, including a simple step-by-step process anybody can follow.
One does not have to be a pro to understand the drying process. Several methods also give anyone the variety to choose the most suitable method.
The Right Moisture Level
Before we see the methods we can use to dry wood fast; we need to understand the ideal moisture level. Since over-drying wood can cause the wood to crack, leaving a small amount of water in the wood is necessary. However, what amount of water is not too dry or wet?
This figure varies depending on the wood’s surroundings. For outdoors, more moisture level is permitted, with the ideal range between 9% to 14%. For indoors, it drops to 6% to 8% to match the relatively dry environment.
These moisture ranges are a far cry from the close to 80% moisture level of freshly cut lumber which shows the level of work to be done on some types of wood.
Purchase a moisture meter to use to gauge the level of moisture in the wood. By placing the meter on the wood, it shows the moisture content.
Ways to Dry Wood Fast
While there are many ways to dry wood, some do it faster than others. Therefore, this guide only focuses on how to dry wood fast so woodworkers can embark on their projects without wasting time.
1. Use an Oven
There are industrial ovens that anyone can use to dry wood. However, this is not always accessible, so the regular kitchen oven becomes useful because of how the oven works and the amount of heat involved. The utmost care is required to ensure your safety and the quality of the wood.
The size of the oven determines the size of wood you can dry at a time. Typically, using the oven is limited to shorter pieces of wood since most ovens cannot carry long wood. Here’s how to use the oven to dry wood:
Step 1: Prepare The Oven
Preparing the oven involves setting the racks, ensuring it keeps the wood away from the bottom and gives room for air to work.
Check if your oven has a convection fan and turn it on. Preheat the oven to a temperature of 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the temperature o. After 15 minutes to see.
Step 2: Put The Wood Into The Oven
Place the wood on the rack inside the oven ensuring all the pieces are separate and not touching each other.
Spacing the wood inside the oven will promote airflow and help all parts of the wood to dry evenly. In this case, smaller wood pieces are ideal and will dry better and faster.
Put a tray with water under the wood so humidity in the oven can balance that in the wood. Then, place the wood pieces in ways that prevent them from falling through the holes in the rack.
Step 3: Allow it to Dry
The wood may take up to one hour to dry to the desired moisture level but do not leave it in for one full hour.
Constantly checking the wood every ten minutes will help. Take out a small piece of wood using protective gear to avoid injuries.
Place the moisture meter on the wood and check the reading. Return the wood if it is still wet and continue testing every ten minutes till you’ve gotten the desired level.
Step 4: Allow The Wood to Cool
When satisfied with the moisture level, take out the wood from the oven and place it in a dry place so it can cool down.
After it must have cooled, check the moisture level again to ensure the environment has not altered it.
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2. Dry Under a Shed
Shed drying is a drying method that involves drying pieces of wood under a shed away from direct sunlight. This shade should also have great airflow so that drying can happen quickly.
Ideally, the shade should have no walls. Shed drying can accommodate any length or size of wood as long as you have a large enough shed area.
Constructing the shed and adding fans may be too expensive for many. However, people with a suitable space will find this method affordable.
Step 1: Process as Fast as Possible
Quickly processing the wood from tree to lumber makes the drying time faster. Immediately after the wood is cut, start the processing to prevent stain, warping, or any damage from taking shape.
Step 2: Put The Wood in The Shed With Good Airflow
Place the wood under the shed with no walls or great airflow, which promotes faster drying. Locations with full walls do not have the required airflow and will hamper the drying process. It may even lead to uneven drying, which is another problem.
Place the wood in similar environments to where the finished project will stay. If it’s indoors, it is ideal for drying the wood indoors, so it balances out with the indoor moisture content and vice versa.
A fan in the area speeds up the process as it makes the surrounding air dryer. Use grain sealers to cover the ends of the wood to encourage even drying.
Exposed wood ends cause the wood to dry too fast. Moisture leaves the wood several times faster from the ends, so using paraffin wax, latex, or polyurethane to cover the end is essential.
Step 3: Stack The Wood And Cover The Top
Stack uniform wood on each other, ensuring that all the sides of the stack are exposed to airflow. Smaller pieces of wood placed between each wood allow all sides to receive ample air and dry evenly.
A cover can come in handy if the stack is outdoors and away from shade. Use trampoline or plastic sheeting to cover only the top of the wood to improve shade and ensure moisture is not trapped inside the wood.
Step 4: Check With Moisture Meter
Use the moisture meter to check the moisture content of the wood. Then, continue the drying process till you’ve got the desired level, after which you can use it for your project.
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3. Use a Kiln
Kilns are controlled systems where anyone can adjust the temperature, humidity, and air circulation to make wood dry faster.
This method is one of the most widely accepted ways to dry wood because it is quick and fully controlled. Kills include radio frequency kilns, vent types, vacuum systems, and more.
Using a kiln is an effective way of quickly drying your wood. However, it does not come cheap. Installing a kiln is expensive and is more suitable for large woodworking stations. Here are the steps to Using a kiln:
Step 1: Prepare Kiln
Preparing the kiln involves getting access to this dryer or making one from scratch. To build a kiln, place a stock of wood on a plastic roll and use planks to make a frame. 2×4 planks are ideal here as they are both durable and light. In addition, the frame should have enough room for a fan and humidifier on opposite ends.
Use plastic film to cover the frame. Add two tubes that allow the fan to take in air and blow that air into the humidified air.
Step 2: Turn on Kiln
Turn on the kiln and ensure the fans are rotating properly. Set the kiln’s temperature depending on the type of wood, moisture content, and energy available. The higher the temperature, the faster it dries and consumes more energy.
Step 3: Place the Wood
Place the wood inside the kiln. Bear in mind that the kiln chamber determines the size of wood you can dry. Depending on the type of kiln and its power source, ensure that the energy supply is consistent throughout the drying period.
Step 4: Allow Kiln to Cool
After getting the desired dryness, turn off the kiln and allow it to cool. The process of cooling down will carry depending on the type of kiln.
Some will require opening the kiln and removing the energy source, while others may require disconnecting the switch from the power source. Allow the kiln to cool down for a while before removing the wood.
Drying wood fast is vital for woodworkers to complete their projects quickly. However, using wet wood is not advisable due to its numerous problems.
Luckily, there are different fast drying methods to use. Some require expensive setups, while others are affordable.