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How To Kiln Dry Wood In An Oven: Step By Step Method

Although air-drying your wood is the most inexpensive procedure if you want to use it as firewood or for other projects, it is quite slow, which means that many people do not prefer to go through the process. Your motivation for drying the wood might be to use it for carpentry or wood carving, so it is best to use the right oven. Kiln drying helps to completely dry the wood and remove the moisture which might damage it if not dried.

How To Kiln Dry Wood In An Oven step by step:

  • Step 1: Get the things you need
  • Step 2: Repositioning the racks
  • Step 3: Preheat the oven
  • Step 4: Measure the wood to know how much moisture is in it
  • Step 5: Put the wood in the oven
  • Step 6: Keep the wood in the center rack
  • Step 7: Check the temperature again
  • Step 8: Dry the wood
  • Step 9: Inspect the wood
  • Step 10: Let the wood cool

Many professional woodworkers and hobbyists look forward to saving money by avoiding commercial kilns and making a kiln at home. These items are easy to build, making them a perfect option for a lot of homeowners. However, if you find building a kiln quite complicated, you can quickly dry your wood in an oven. It increases its strength and durability, and it is resistant to mold.

The procedure involves heating the wood in the oven under low temperatures and is only recommended for small amounts of wood. So, if you’re learning more about kiln drying inside an oven, read on to know the procedure on how to go about it.

How To Kiln Dry Wood In An Oven, step by step

● Step 1: Things You Need

  • A thermometer
  • Electric moisture meter or the regular measuring scale
  • Wood
  • Oven
  • Cooling racks
  • A sealant
  • A wood stabilizing solution
  • A fire extinguisher

● Step 2: Repositioning the Racks

Since your goal is to make sure that the wood dries on each side, it is best to reposition the racks, in that there is one at the center and the bottom. Ensure you are safe by placing a sheet pan at the bottom rack for the small wood parts that slip into the rack. All ovens have an inbuilt thermometer, and it is best to add a second one for accurate readings.

● Step 3: Preheat the Oven

Set your temperature at around 107 Celsius, as it helps dry the wood without burning it.

● Step 4: Measure the Wood to Know How Much Moisture Is In It

Measuring the moisture level in the wood before putting it in an oven helps to determine how much water has been removed once the drying process is done. Using an electric water meter gives you the best results, but if you lack one, the regular measuring tools can help. Once you have dried the wood, measure it again to see the amount of moisture lost. There are two well-known types of moisture meters that you can use:

  • Pin Meters: These meters have long pins with an insulated shaft to check the moisture level on different depths. It is relatively small, allowing it to be easily inserted in the wood. However, if it is wrongly inserted, you will get inaccurate readings.
  • Pinless Meters: These do not penetrate the wood; therefore, there will be no damage that occurs to the wood. It allows you to check the moisture quickly and fast.

● Step 5: Put the Wood in the Oven

Perhaps this is the most technical part, primarily if you are not used to drying your wood in an oven.

● Step 6: Keep the Wood in the Center Rack

Your wood should be well placed in your center rack, with the small ones placed on top of the big ones to prevent them from slipping.

● Step 7: Check the Temperature Again

Before you close the oven, check the temperature, and also ensure everything is alright. Have the temperature set at 107 degrees since if it is higher than that, the wood will either crack or warp. Also, check the placement of each wood so that it is easy to dry it, and ensure there are no pieces of wood touching each other as it will not dry as expected.

● Step 8: Dry the Wood

Your timer should be set to stop after an hour, then shut the oven door to let the wood dry. It is recommended that you regularly check what is happening in the oven and have a fire extinguisher nearby should in case a fire occurs.

● Step 9: Inspect the Wood

Look at the wood after an hour to see how much moisture is reaming in your wood, and know if you need to increase the time. In case the wood needs to dry further, add fifteen minutes each session until it is fully dry.

● Step 10: Let the Wood Cool

Once the moisture levels in the wood reduce, it is time to let it cool. Place the wood on a rack and leave it for a while. Spread those pieces of wood so that they dry evenly.

● Step 11: Retest the Wood

It is recommended that you recheck the moisture levels before storing the wood in a safe and dry place. In case there is still too much moisture, repeat the drying process from the first step. If not, check for cracks and if there are any other defects, seal it with glue. That is necessary if you want to use the wood for carpentry purposes. However, if the wood is meant to be used as firewood, the cracks and other defects should not worry you.

How Can You Tell The Wood Is Dry?

If you follow the guideline above, then it is quite easy to know if the wood is dry. However, you should also look at other signs, including:

  • The color of the wood should change and become lighter than before.
  • Your wood will weigh less since most of the moisture has been dried.

Also, depending on the wood you are drying and the temperatures set, you may or may not see the cracks in it, which is an indication of drying.

Kiln drying in an oven is not a permanent solution, and the wood might attract more moisture if not correctly stored. If you notice more moisture, dry it, and apply a stabling solution to dry for long. Only use this solution after the wood reaches room temperature.

Ways to Prevent Wood from Splitting

Splitting happens naturally after you dry the wood. That is caused by the fact that the cells collapse, causing the wood to split. If you want to prevent splitting after drying the wood:

  • Wood stabilizer: Use a wood stabilizer after drying the wood. It is the best technique for anyone who wants to use wood for furniture or carving activities.
  • Even drying: Ensure the wood dries evenly, so expose it to heat from all sides.
  • Do not rush: Never rush the drying process as you risk damaging the wood.

Safety Precautions to Take When Drying Wood in an Oven

Although it may seem obvious, some people might forget the safety precautions to have in mind. They include:

  • Oven mittens: Use oven mittens when removing the wood from the oven to avoid getting burned.
  • Smoke: If there is smoke, switch off the oven immediately and wait for a while to see if there are flames before opening it.
  • Flames: In case there are flames, wait for the fire to burn out, and if not, make use of a fire extinguisher.  If it is more serious than what a fire extinguisher can handle, evacuate the house and get in touch with the fire department in your area.

Advantages Of Drying Wood In A Common Kitchen Oven

Using a common kitchen oven to dry wood has several advantages:

  • Cost-effective: You use an oven that you already have. No need to purchase new equipment. Only for large quantities of wood, the needed electricity will add up.
  • Speed: With a kitchen oven you can quickly dry smaller quantities of wood. Instead of weeks, you are talking about hours.
  • Evenly: Using a kitchen oven to dry results in relatively evenly dried wood.
  • No mold: As it is a fast process, there is no chance to grow mold on the wood.
  • Kills bugs: The heat kills most bugs in the wood, and even eggs are often fried.

Using a regular kitchen oven is a great method to dry smaller pieces of wood. But always ensure that you do it in a safe way. An oven can get really hot, and wood can burn. You do not want to have a fire in your oven. Always monitor the process closely.

I recommend having some heat-resistant gloves, some heavy-duty tongs, and a large bucket of water nearby. You have to be extremely careful with opening the oven door, at that time additional air can reach the wood, and that can result in a sudden fire.

I also always recommend testing some less important pieces of wood, to see how the drying turns out. It helps find the exact time for your oven and type of wood. And it is better to find an unexpected problem before you start with more important wood pieces.

Frequently Asked Questions

● How Do You Kiln Wood without Cracking?

Ensure that the temperatures are not too high when drying the wood. If by any chance, it still cracks, there are a couple of sealants available that you can use.

● What Are The Advantages Of Kiln Drying?

It is the best way to reduce moisture as kilns can reduce the amount of moisture in the wood in just hours. You can use the wood for carpentry projects or as firewood without worrying about the moisture content.

● Is It Okay To Dry Wood In An Oven?

Yes, there is no problem with that, but there are different factors that play a part. That includes the amount of moisture in wood, the bunch you have to dry, and how fast you need to use it. The oven will reduce moisture content in a matter of hours, allowing you to make the most out of your wood.

● Can I use a regular kitchen oven to dry Wood?

Using a regular kitchen oven to dry wood is fine. It is not much different than a professional one, except for the size. Ensure that the wood fits your oven.

If you use your regular oven, take care if you remove the wood. Use oven gloves. And if you spot smoke, turn off the oven immediately. Flames are not far away and can ruin the oven. If you spot flames, keep the door closed and let the fire burn out.

● What temperature should I set the oven to dry Wood?

I recommend setting the oven to a temperature between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit (90 to 150 Celcius). Do not set the temperature higher than 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celcius).

● How long does it take to dry wood in an oven?

If you dry wet green wood in an oven I would recommend a temperature between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit (90 to 150 Celcius). And leave the wood in the oven for around 2 hours. Check the wood, and if not completely dry, leave it for another 30 min. Repeat this until the wood is dry.

● How do I know if the wood is dry?

There are several methods to know if the wood is dry:

  • Moisture meter: If you have a moisture meter, you can use that to check the wood.
  • Wood color: If the wood is dry, it will have a lighter color
  • Weight: Dry wood will weigh a lot less. You can weigh the wood before, and check after drying.
  • Sound: You can clap two pieces of weed. If it sounds sort of dull, the wood is wet. If the sound is more hollow, it is dry. If you have both wet and dry wood, you can try this and hear the difference.

Final remarks

The duration takes to dry wood is dependent on various factors like wood species, moisture levels, and thickness. Hopefully, you have acquired enough knowledge from this guide and the next time you want to dry wood using an oven, it will not be complicated. Instead of air-drying the wood, this is an ideal tactic that helps move to other things, instead of waiting for the wood to dry. With this technique, you can dry small pieces of timber at a moderate temperature and get rid of the excess moisture.

If you need the wood for carpentry reasons, storing them safely allows you to have it ready for use. Be careful with the storage and ensure there is no strain on the wood. That could result in warping, cracking, splitting, or twisting, making it hard to use the wood for carving or carpentry. Use low temperatures when drying the wood and let each batch dry before putting the other in the oven. It will eventually become your new favorite hobby if done right!