Regardless of the type of woodworking project, you are working on, adequate drying of lumber or wood is mandatory. There is a vast array of options to consider when opting for the best ways or methods to dry wood for woodworking purposes.
The method used to dry wood depends on the thickness, size, and type of lumber. Although the thickness of the lumber may limit some of the drying methods, there are feasible ways that could effectively and swiftly help you dry wood.
This piece will enlighten you on the methods to dry wood, specially for woodworking purposes, including the pros and cons.
What is Kiln Drying used for?
Kilns feature enclosed chambers where the relative humidity, temperature, and air circulation can be monitored for the moisture content of the lumber is reduced to a certain point where there no defects due to drying.
There are various designs of kilns, including vent types, traditional heat, radiofrequency dryers, and vacuum systems.
This wood drying method is effective. However, the installation and maintenance cost of the kilns may be the limiting factor as it’s relatively high.
It may be feasible to dry pieces of wood using kiln drying, especially if the wood species is of high value.
What are Pros and Con of Kiln Drying Wood?
Kiln drying may be directly executed using electricity or natural gas or indirectly using steam-heated heat exchangers.
- Minimal moisture content: Compared to air drying, the kiln drying method is more effective and adequately dries pieces of wood, leaving them with minimal moisture contents.
- Not affected by external conditions: Kilns are ideal as they are not affected by external conditions, including adverse weather conditions. Thus they may be used in countries with humid or cold weather conditions.
- Controlled outcome: Your pieces of wood can be dried according to your specifications and the level of moisture content that you desire.
- Even Moisture Content: By using the kiln wood drying method, you can get moisture content that is uniform throughout the lumber.
- Fast and efficient: The drying period is reduced by more than a third. Drying defects are also minimal when you use the kiln method.
- Relatively fragile: Pieces of wood produced using the kiln process tend to be more delicate and chip or break easily, mainly when working with powered saws or hand tools.
- Initial Investment is high: Kilns are mostly much costly, the initial investment is high, especially the installation of the kilns. They should be fully utilized and functional throughout.
- Loses the wood color: Pieces dried using kiln process lose their original color by almost 20%, even when not steamed. This is a result of the kiln’s high temperature.
What is Air Drying Wood Method used for?
This method involves the use of natural wind and sunlight to dry wood. Air drying involves stacking fresh wood on stickers and allowing sunlight and wind to go through the pile and dry them. However, this method could result in stain if there is slow drying.
Slow drying is mainly brought about by high humidity and low airflow. On the other hand, unsightly splitting and cracking may be brought about by fast-drying, attributed primarily to excessive airflow.
If the wood is needed for furniture or other finished products that need between 6% and 8% moisture content, dry your wood using air drying may not be appropriate.
What are Pros and Con of Air Drying Wood?
Air drying is straightforward. However, it is relatively common for the wood to lose more than 10% in quality, often caused by extremes and weather variability.
- Budget-friendly: This wood drying method is less costly to use. It is economical when you require air-dry lumber to a moisture content of between 18% and 25%.
- Vibrant outlook: Pieces of wood dried using air-drying method tend to have vibrant colors, and thus the woodworking products may look much elegant and appealing.
- Top-quality: Pieces of wood dried using this method are usually of higher quality, quantity, and easy to work with as compared to other methods, including kiln drying.
- Takes a more prolonged period: This method is dependent on the condition of the weather. To completely dry a piece of lumber, air drying may take an exceptionally long period. During the winter season, the rate of drying is tremendously slow.
- Degradation: This wood drying method may increase volume loss and degradation due to end splitting and severe surface checking. This is mainly caused by dry and hot wind flowing through the lumber, especially during hot weather conditions.
- Challenging to attain low moisture content: To dry pieces of wood using this method and to attain a moisture content of less than 18% is quite a challenging hurdle and, most of the time, impossible in some locations.
What is Shed Drying method used for?
This wood drying method entails placing pieces of fresh wood in a shed with no walls, preventing rainfall and sunlight from direct contact with them while still permitting the adequate and good flow of air.
The rate of drying using shed drying is most of the time regulated through the use of plastic mesh curtains.
During cold weather conditions, they are opened. During dry and hot weather conditions, they are pulled together.
The process of constructing the sheds can be relatively easier. However, it may get complex, especially when adding fans and adjustable walls. The fans help to remove excessive moist from the pieces of wood.
It may be costly to use this method as the fans require power to function, which may bring about additional costs.
What are Pros and Con of Shed Drying Wood?
The shed drying process may slower initially as some of the wood species are prone to checking.
- Minimal moisture content: Shed drying is mainly preferred as the final products usually have a minimal moisture content of over 20%
- High quality: When using the shed drying method, the end products are usually impressive and may be used for various woodworking projects. The quality of the wood is retained and with minimal damage.
- Costly: Compared to the levels of dryness accomplished, the amount of investments used in this wood drying method is relatively high.
- May be affected by adverse weather conditions: This wood drying method’s success depends on suitable weather conditions, and this involves windy and sunny weather. Cold and rainy weather conditions may slow down the drying process.
Armed with the above wood drying methods, you will be able to quickly and efficiently dry your fresh pieces of lumber and use them for your various woodworking projects.