Lumber can be used for many home improvement projects, but the cost of commercial lumber can make many of these projects cost-prohibitive. One money-saving alternative is to build your own wood drying kiln to reduce the moisture content of your lumber. There are many options for building your own wood dryer. Some of the simpler styles can be completed in a weekend or less. Once your wood drying kiln is finished, you can make your own lumber for a fraction of the cost of commercial lumber.
The larger your wood dryer, the more wood you can season at once. Generally, the larger the drying kiln, the longer it will take for the wood to achieve optimal moisture content. Select the smallest size that will accommodate your needs. This will prevent drying times of weeks or even months.
Many commercially available wood drying kiln plans have the loading door on the side of the kiln. This can make loading and unloading lumber difficult. If you build a kiln with the door on the side, construct a loading cart that you can push directly into the kiln. Otherwise, construct the wood dryer with the door on the back.
Solar wood drying kilns have emerged as a cost-effective alternative to standard kilns. They can be constructed for less than $400 as of November 2009, and only require electricity to power the ventilation fans. Any type of clear panel that permits passage of ultraviolet (UV) rays can be used for the kiln face. The face should be angled at approximately 45 degrees, and should face south if it is placed in the Northern Hemisphere.
The main drawback to a solar wood dryer is that wood takes significantly longer to dry than with other types of wood kilns. Depending on the time of year and the amount of sunlight available, lumber may take two to three months to properly dry in a solar kiln.
Wood-fired kilns achieve much quicker drying times than solar kilns, while still saving the cost of electrical power. If you need to dry lumber relatively quickly, a wood-fired kiln can be a good, economical choice.
The main problem homeowners face when using a wood-fired kiln is heat regulation. If the lumber dries too fast, it can crack or warp. Drying must be monitored carefully to maintain an even temperature.
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