George Vondriska

Setting Up Charlie’s Kiln

George Vondriska
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Duration:   9  mins

My friend Charlie has had a sawmill and has been air-drying his lumber. He decided it was time for a kiln to expedite the drying process. Here’s an overview of the decisions he made along the way and how he fabricated his kiln.

Air Drying vs. Kiln Drying: A Practical Comparison

Air-drying lumber isn’t bad, but there are good reasons for kiln drying. Air drying is a simple process, and can be done almost anywhere. But it’s a slow process, requiring about one year per inch of thickness to completely dry. So, 8/4 lumber can take two years to dry. The final result is wood that has about a 12% moisture content.

Kiln drying takes more setup but is faster and provides a lower moisture content. Your stack of wood can dry in a few months in a kiln, and the final moisture content is typically around 6% – 8%.

Considering a DIY Kiln?

Is a DIY kiln for you? There are lots of decisions to make along the way. Charlie bought a Woodmizer 150 dehumidification unit. Some folks go completely DIY, using a household dehumidifier, box fans, and a heat source. There’s a lot involved in kiln-drying wood. Different species have different drying schedules; you must monitor what’s happening in the kiln. A commercially made unit like Charlie got the guesswork out of the process. Either way, you’ll need a room to put it all in.

Setting Up the Kiln Chamber

It’s not uncommon for people to use a shipping container as a kiln. Charlie partitioned off part of an existing building for his. To keep the process efficient, you should insulate the room you use.

Exploring Solar-Powered Alternatives

An alternative is to go solar with your kiln.

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