I have noticed several enquiries and comments on Lumberjocks regarding the use of a microwave oven for the purpose of drying green wood, so I want to pass along a description of a recent event that happened to someone I know. For this posting, I will refer to this person as “ABC” (A Bowl Carver), and I will let you assume that ABC is male.
As a bit of background, ABC was injured in an automobile accident, and as part of his rehabilitation process I am currently teaching him how to carve. Since ABC currently has no carving tools, he is working with a few that I have lent to him until we can source some of his own.
Following a review of various styles of carving, ABC decided that he would like to try a heart shaped bowl as his first carving. I provided a suitably sized cedar blank, and he wasted no time learning his basic techniques with the carving chisels. A few days later, I met with ABC again, and my expectation was that he would have made good progress on carving out the interior of the bowl, and that the next step would be to start on the exterior.
SURPRISE!!! ABC had almost completed the heart shaped bowl that he had decided to carve as his first project!!!
Unfortunately, as he was carving part of the bottom of the bowl, he cut through a thin area of the bottom. To correct this, he properly fitted a replacement plug of wood into the opening, and glued it in place. Then a friend of ABC dropped by and asked why he wasn’t working on his carving, so ABC explained that he was waiting for the glue to dry. His friend said he could get it to dry very quickly, and took the carving into the house. When he came back out, without the bowl, ABC asked what he had done, and was told that his friend had put the carving “into the microwave oven”.
At this point, ABC ran into the house and opened the microwave to find this in a cloud of smoke . . .
His carving had split apart, and started to char badly. ABC’s friend had only set the microwave for 45 seconds, but obviously this was too much. For his first carving, this was the end. So I asked ABC if he would mind if I posted this story as a warning to other wood carvers, to let them know what may happen when using a microwave oven to dry their wood or glue. He has graciously agreed, but of course this was not his fault, even though it was quite a learning experience.
Yes, it is possible to use a microwave safely for drying purposes, and since several Lumberjocks members have posted information on their successful experiences, I would suggest that a bit of research on our site would be well worth your time if you want to try this approach.
-- John, British Columbia, Canada