LumberJocks

Solar kiln #1: from design to construction

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Julian posted 2097 days ago 9296 reads 11 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Solar kiln series Part 2: loading the charge »

A few years ago, I had the idea of building a small solar kiln. Well, life happened, and I didn’t have the time or money to build one. Then two weeks ago, my neighbor had a red elm cut down that had been struck by lighning earlier in the spring. I figured that a beautiful elm tree would never just fall into my lap, so I had the tree removal service roll the 8’, 30”+ main trunk into my front yard. After having it milled, I realized that I couldn’t wait an entire year to work with such a beautiful wood, so now the solar kiln is finally becoming a reality.

Here’s a rough plan I designed in sketchup. It was actually the first thing I designed using sketchup, and I must say that the program is excellent! The kiln deck measures 4×10. The rear wall is 5’, and the front wall is 1’, making the roof 45 degrees angled to the south. It will be just large enough to fit 200-250 bf of lumber, which is perfect for my small scale needs.

I used 11 7/8 lvl’s and I joists for the deck, and 2×4’s for the walls. The whole thing was sheated with 3/8 plywood( on sale for only 8$ a sheet!), then insulated and plastic wrapped. The inside was caulked and so far has a coat of alumized roof coating. My plan is to have a double layer of plastic sheathing 3 1/2” apart for the top for now, and in the spring will use clear corrugated fiberglass. The top, which is not yet finished, will be on hinges in back, and lift up for access.

Hopefully, I will have this kiln completed and ready for a charge of red elm by the weekend.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL



12 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2420 days


#1 posted 2097 days ago

This looks like an interesting project. Keep us posted on how the drying goes.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View darryl's profile

darryl

1792 posts in 2925 days


#2 posted 2097 days ago

that’s really cool. “one of these days” I would also like to make one of these.

View jerryw's profile

jerryw

158 posts in 2514 days


#3 posted 2096 days ago

i use one of our greenhouses to dry wood . in the spring [ june] when the bedding plant are gone i stick green or air dried hardwoods in the greenhouse. i just took some ash out to check it that was put in about mid june. my moisture meter said 8 %. this ash was air dried outside for a couple of months before going into the greenhouse.
you may need vents in the front of your solar kiln so the air flows thru the sticked lumber and out the top back. cover the top of the pile with something to keep the sun off the lumber. i use a sheet of foam insulation. lumber goes thru a lot of stress during drying and the sun directly on the top board makes the wood do baaaaaad things.
you may need a fan or two in the top back hurry things up.

-- jerryw-wva.

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2124 days


#4 posted 2096 days ago

Jerry,
I plan on setting up a baffle, with a fan in the middle of it. I have a sheet of plywood left over that will be used to cover the lumber.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2124 days


#5 posted 2095 days ago

The weather was just warm enough for the aluminized roof coat to cure today, so I went ahead and painted the interior flat black. If I don’t get home from work too late tomorrow, I’ll try and get the top finished, and get the weatherstrip on so I can get this thing close to air tight. With some more luck, I hope to have the baffle, and fan installed this week.

On another note, I have found somebody in a nearby town with 2-2’x11’ black walnut logs that have been air drying for a few years on some blocks. I just might be getting them both for $100. Thats only 50$ EACH!!

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Karson's profile

Karson

34858 posts in 2999 days


#6 posted 2087 days ago

Great looking kiln and great catch on the wood.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View douglbe's profile

douglbe

357 posts in 2559 days


#7 posted 2087 days ago

I’ve been gathering a few materials and hopefully I can start on a solar kiln one of these days, been thinking about one for over a year now. Mostly, it’s finding the time. Your kiln is exactly what would fit my bill. Keep the posts coming.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2124 days


#8 posted 2087 days ago

I let this wood air dry for a few weeks. I am under the impression that the mild weather won’t cause the wood to dry too quickly, so I am not too worried about it. If the weather was warmer out, then I would have let it air dry for at least 30 days.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Arnold's profile

Arnold

215 posts in 2160 days


#9 posted 2078 days ago

nice

View gbvinc's profile

gbvinc

629 posts in 2545 days


#10 posted 1976 days ago

Now that you have pulled your first load from the kiln, are there any design changes you would suggest for the kiln, or do you like it as is?

View Tim Pletcher's profile

Tim Pletcher

88 posts in 1672 days


#11 posted 1653 days ago

does it work well????

-- http://plasticlumber.timpletcher.com/

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2124 days


#12 posted 1651 days ago

Yes it works just fine and even works in the dead of winter.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase