Solar Kiln

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Project by douglbe posted 12-25-2010 11:37 PM 10532 views 42 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a solar kiln I built this past spring. I dried approximately 1,500 bd. ft. this summer, I dried the lumber to 6-7% MC . It works fantastically. I have put white ash, walnut, cherry, hard maple, and basswood through it with out any problems. With the warm summer we had here in Michigan, I was drying lumber from 17% down to 6% in 7-10 days, in the early and latter part of the summer took 4-6 weeks. It was pretty much stick it in and leave it, the only thing I did was adjust the vents and check the MC every other day. It holds 220-240 bd. ft., depending on the lengths and width of the boards. I made this from an article in WOOD magazine and the biggest difference is, I used OSB rather than treated plywood for cost reasons. I had 2X6 treated boards from my deck when I redid that a couple of years ago and I ripped these down to 2X2s for the frame and I covered it with felt paper. It is easy to take down, so I have it stored in the shed for winter.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

15 comments so far

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 3393 days

#1 posted 12-26-2010 12:29 AM

That’s great. I’ve never seen anything like this. It is so simple I could probably do it too.
Also, I live in Georgia, so I could do it year round. Thanks for sharing this.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View MayflowerDescendant's profile


414 posts in 2753 days

#2 posted 12-26-2010 12:36 AM

Great job! Sounds like a very useful project. Thanks for sharing the performance specs. Do you recall which issue of WOOD magazine the plan was in? Happy holidays!

-- Glen - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3901 days

#3 posted 12-26-2010 01:14 AM

Doug, that is great. I would be interested to know which issue as well. This might help with some wood I have received at work.



-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View mafe's profile


11643 posts in 3055 days

#4 posted 12-26-2010 01:19 AM

That is really interesting.
And so clever, perhaps a solarpowered vent would be the finish touch (co2 neutral).
Thank you for sharing this with us.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View shipwright's profile


7966 posts in 2764 days

#5 posted 12-26-2010 01:56 AM

Boy, that looks familiar. Right down to the OSB. These things don’t have to be expensive or even well built to work like a hot damn, do they?

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View douglbe's profile


369 posts in 3927 days

#6 posted 12-26-2010 05:40 AM

My mistake, I just looked up the article and it was from American Woodworker, October 2006.
A lot of work to load and unload, but it is well worth it.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View WoodLe's profile


155 posts in 2763 days

#7 posted 12-26-2010 07:24 AM

Thanks for the reminder. I’m seriously thinking about building one to dry my slabs. I think Va. Tech is suppose to have designed a very good one.

-- Wooster, Ohio

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 3169 days

#8 posted 12-26-2010 02:53 PM

Doug – thanks for the info. I’ve been thinking about doing this, but wondered how well it would work. Why do you take it down in the winter? I know we have only a few months of warmth – that doesn’t leave much time to dry the wood, does it? Did much of the wood check?

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View douglbe's profile


369 posts in 3927 days

#9 posted 12-26-2010 04:19 PM

BillyJ: The glazing is 3/16” plexiglass and it won’t hold up to any snow load and being made of OSB, it will last longer for me if I store it inside when not in use. True, you really only have 3 good months to dry wood in Michigan, although I did dry one load in each of May and September, it just takes longer. I had 2000 bd. ft. to dry and would have had it done, except my fan blade loosened and caught on the guard, which burned the motor out. It was about three weeks before I got it operational again. The cool thing about a solar kiln is, the cost of drying, the only cost is running the fan and I only run it after the kiln reaches a 100 degrees and it turns off when the temperature drops below 100. Checking was pretty much unnoticeable. That’s another advantage of solar drying, at night when the temperatures drop, the moisture in the kiln condenses on the wood and helps relieve the drying stress from the day.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View SteveMI's profile


1092 posts in 3261 days

#10 posted 12-27-2010 01:49 AM

If there wasn’t snow in the back yard, I would be measuring the rear of my shed. I have a couple smaller solar panels, just need to find fans for it. What did you use for the thermostat?


View NormG's profile


5955 posts in 2970 days

#11 posted 12-27-2010 02:19 AM

I have read about these and was impressed by the articles information about the cost to build and maintain vs. other options. I will have to locate the articles, if I remember correctly they even had the fan and solar panel purchase information including the part #’s and costs, it was pretty inexpensive

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View WoodLe's profile


155 posts in 2763 days

#12 posted 12-28-2010 06:27 AM

Check out

-- Wooster, Ohio

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3300 days

#13 posted 12-30-2010 01:57 PM

Boy, that is just amazing. I would love to have one, but I’m afraid it might be to wet here where I live near the coast in Southwest Norway. I am tempted to give it a try though. Thanks for posting.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3033 days

#14 posted 02-08-2011 02:30 PM

How think was the lumber that dropped 11% in 7 – 10 days? Any idea in the summer how lng it would take to dry out 8/4 lumber?

View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3033 days

#15 posted 02-08-2011 02:32 PM

How think was the lumber that dropped 11% in 7 – 10 days? Any idea in the summer how lng it would take to dry out 8/4 lumber?

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