Drying of wood is a very essential task especially if you need to use wood for either woodwork or firewood. It is important to know that wood, being hygroscopic, is naturally filled with a lot of moisture. However, to be able to use wood for greater purposes and to improve its efficiency, durability, and resilience to pests and molds, the moisture must first be removed completely. Lumber used as firewood should be properly seasoned for it to burn well, and prevent ashes as well as creosote.
Placing lumber in a dry area where it can lose moisture naturally and dry out (air drying) is simple and easy. However, this process tends to be quite slow and time-consuming. Generally speaking, there are two basic ways by which you can dry wood: the air drying and kiln drying methods. Air drying involves leaving wood outdoors in a dry space and letting it dry out on its own. Here, the major drying factors are natural air and sunlight. Kiln drying, on the other hand, involves the use of a special controlled oven to “bake” wood until it is dry enough for use. This method is faster and is more controlled.
How to Dry Wood Discs or Slices:
There are several methods to dry wood discs or wood slices, depending on your requirements. If you want a quick-drying method for large quantities of wood you can use Kiln drying. Cheaper, but taking much longer is airdrying. If you have a small quantity of smaller wood you can use a microwave or an oven as a super-fast way to dry.
Depending on several factors such as relative humidity and weather condition of the area, wood may take weeks, months or even years to dry up naturally. So if you’re in a hurry and you want your wood to dry faster, this process may not work very well for you. This is where your simple kitchen oven can make a great difference. Wood slices, which are also referred to as wood cookies, are often used for a variety of projects and jobs to add that rustic look and feel. When you dry them, the moisture in the wood gradually evaporates causing the wood to shrink, and this eventually causes the slices to crack. Home ovens, however, can play an important role in drying wood slices faster and more effectively. Do you want to know how to dry wood slices? Don’t look too far; this article will show you the different drying methods specifically for wood slices.
Different Drying Techniques
As stated earlier, the simplest and least expensive technique for drying wood slices or discs is by air drying- allowing the wood to sit at a particular humidity level and dry naturally on its own. However, there are several factors that you must keep in mind such as the amount of time it would take for the wood discs or slices to dry depends greatly on the species of wood you’re using, the moisture level of the wood, its thickness, and the seasoning technique you plan to use.
However, there’s also the most important thing to keep in mind when drying wood with this method- just know that you cannot rush the process. By taking your time and doing it slowly, you will ultimately reduce the chances of cracking or splitting. Due to this, the standard technique often employed when drying wood is by sealing the end grain and then leaving the piece of wood to dry on its own.
● End Grain Preparation
It may seem confusing, but sealing up the end grain of your wood slows down the drying process, and this technique is quite important when drying wood. Wood should not be dried too rapidly or else drying defects and other issues may occur.
You can make use of a commercial product such as Anchor seal to cover the end grain. You can also decide to use a melted wax instead; either will do just fine. Any type of wax can do this job just fine, so you don’t need to worry about the quality of wax to use. Some people usually make the mistake of using latex paint to seal the end grain, however, latex paint can be quite porous and is very unlikely to work effectively as a sealing agent. Just note that in most cases, the thicker the coat, the better the result. It is even recommended to seal the end grain heavily to get better results. You may also consider using a good wood filler, in case the wood needs a little bit of help.
● Using a Microwave Oven
If you’re dealing with a really small amount of wood slices, you could easily speed dry it in a microwave oven. If you’ll also be doing this regularly, you may want to consider investing in a second-hand microwave oven. Also, remember that you must use the microwave solely for this purpose. Also, speed drying using this method will only work on smaller pieces of wood.
● Using a Conventional Oven
When using a conventional oven to dry wood slices, you should do it slowly. To get better and effective results, you may want to bake the wood for 24 hours or more. This will also depend on the type of wood you’re working with as well as the moisture content of this wood. That being said, you should ideally aim for at least 24 hours of drying time.
Also for smaller pieces of wood, a toaster oven or a conventional oven can be used to achieve effective drying. The only downside to using a conventional oven is that you have to be carefull using it also to cook if you have also used it for drying wood. This is because, when you heat the wood, there is usually a permanent change in the physical property, and as well as a release of certain chemicals or toxins that can be harmful to the body system. These extractives can gradually change into harmful compounds when you use the same oven for cooking, causing your food to develop a certain flavor. This may in turn be harmful to your body. So it usually recommended investing in a second-hand oven which you can use effectively for drying wood discs without worrying about the effect it has on your health.
● Stacking Wood
If you don’t want to use an oven to dry your wood discs or slices, then you’re left with the option of relying on time and natural forces of nature like the wind and sunlight, to slowly dry your wood. In the air-drying method, you can control the drying time as well as the results by speeding up the drying process. This can be done by simply stacking your wood properly. The major trick here is to allow air to flow in all sides and direction of every piece of wood. The more air you allow to flow, the faster it will take for the wood to dry.
This can be accomplished by creating spaces between layers of wood, as well as between each piece of wood. Make sure your wood slices are not in contact with the ground as moisture may collect below, causing it to rot. You can use any material that won’t absorb water to create the spaces. You can also use wooden materials like lumber or pellets that you longer have a use for. If you’re using a wooden bed, line the top of the bed with tarps, plastic sheeting, or any material that can block the transfer of moisture from the wood underneath to the wood slices on top. This will make the wood slices or discs to dry faster.
Steps on How to Dry Wood Slices in an Oven
Step 1: Prepare your Oven
Take out your racks and reposition them so that one is at the bottom and the other one is in the center. Since you want all sides of the wood to dry evenly, you’ll be making use of the center rack. Place a large sheet pan on top of the bottom rack, as this would serve as a precaution to catch any smaller pieces that may slip through the wire. Although your oven has a built-in thermometer, a second one can help ensure more accurate readings and prevent over-drying.
Step 2: Set the Oven Temperature
Set the temperature of your oven to be as close to 218 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. If you’re using an analog oven, then you should first heat the oven between 200 degrees Fahrenheit and 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn on the convection fan if your oven has one, to ensure adequate circulation. Then check the thermometer after 15 minutes, and continue adjusting the settings until the internal temperature of the oven is between 210 and 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 3: Place the Wood Slices in The Oven
Place the wood discs or slices on the center rack, making sure no piece is touching each other. This will ensure that the heat reaches all parts of the wood. Place the smaller wood slices perpendicular to the rungs of the rack to prevent them from falling through the rack. Dry the wood for an hour.
Step 4: Measure Wood’s Temperature
Take out two wood slices of different sizes, then press the two metal pins of the moisture meter into the surface of the wood. If the desired moisture has not been reached, return the wood to the oven. Then when you’ve got the desired moisture content, place the wood on a wire cooling rack to cool.