I am a full time sawyer looking for a kiln that is right for me. I am very confused about what kind of kiln is good for what application, and just how they work. I have read that kilns need a heat source and a dehumidifier. I have heard of guys making kilns with a woodstove and a room that holds the heat. That sounds wrong, like they are asking for extreme amounts of defect, but I may be wrong.
I am currently sitting on about 40,000 board feet of wood in the process of air drying. Majority of it is rare and unusual wood like curly, burls, very large slabs, and other figured woods. I'm interested in air drying my wood for about a year, and then putting it in the kiln. Is this going to decrease kiln time dramatically vs. putting wood into the kiln within a week after sawing?
I need a kiln that can handle only 2,000 - 3,000 board feet at a time. I'm interested in Wood-Mizer's solar version. Is this or any other kiln something that has to be monitored every day? I already own a Wagner moisture meter, and I monitor my wood once a month or so.
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor D:
It is a scary thought to be air drying that kind of material. You are risking tens of thousands of dollars. Kiln drying is not tremendously difficult. There is a lot of information available and some good suppliers. (Though as Gene said in a recent post, not quite as good as me :-) [Nyle]
What do you mean? Are these the words of a salesman? This is the exact opposite of what I have been told for the last 10 years. Are you saying that kiln drying correctly will yield less defect? If so, that is also the opposite of what I have heard and read.
Not like tens of thousands of dollars, but roughly $150,000. I want to move this material quickly so I don't have to sit on so much money in inventory for such long periods of time. So what do you supply, and what reasons should make me believe that your statements are true? I am hoping to purchase a kiln within the next 3-6 months.
Not to change the subject, but... what are your thoughts about your Wagner moisture meter? Have you had it long - used other brands in the past? Good luck with the inventory - not a half bad problem to have.
I have a Wagner and love it.
I think that's basically correct. Kiln drying wrong will yield more defect, of course, and sometimes companies are under commercial pressure to put more wood through their kilns than they should.
Kilns give you control over the drying. With air drying, you are at the mercy of the weather. Some species are pretty forgiving. I air dry my Monterey cypress with very good results. But other woods are not so easy. Get a couple of weeks of warm wet weather and your maple or pine will be stained. Get a couple of weeks of hot dry wind and your oak will develop checking.
A kiln run at the proper schedule will a) get the wood dry faster, and b) remove the weather risk. You have control over the temp, humidity and airflow.
Air drying then finishing in a kiln is a valid drying method. It allows much more wood to be dried if 90% of the drying is done outside the kiln. So it can make economic sense, but it does have the possible problems with the air drying.
I shouldn't have said unusual woods like just burls and other figured woods, because that probably only makes up 4,000 or 5,000 BF worth of wood in my inventory. Most of the wood is unusual, though, because it is wide. Average boards are anywhere from 15"- 55" wide. Does board width make any difference with kiln drying?
I am very happy with my Wagner moisture meter. I haven't owned any other meters, but have used pin meters, but never like the thought of leaving holes that may screw up the woodworker in the future of the board. It is a MC220.
I don't understand it completely. For example… Some reference tables say walnut has a SG of .49. Others say walnut has a SG of .57. Most say it has a SG of .55. Should I pick the average SG or what? Another is osage orange. I've seen SG's ranging from .72 - .81. If you plug in each number, it makes quite a difference in determining the moisture content. I am determined to develop a high end sawing and drying company, so would this mean I ultimately have to test the SG for each tree? Doesn't seem practical.