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Solar Kiln

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Project by peterrum posted 834 days ago 4391 views 38 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a project I have wanted to complete for a few years now. There is alot of information on line about solar kilns and I am fairly certain I hit most of them in order to plan this. This kiln is 9’x4’ outside dimension. It allows me to put 8’ boards in easily. I had to make this kiln mobile just because of the lay of my property. The plan was to build it so that I could put it at the end of my carport to get the best sun and when needed I could move it aside to get access to the double car garage. I used Sketchup to develop the plans and fiddled with the dimensions using this tool.

Construction started with a 2×4 frame base sandwiched between plywood. Between the 2×4’s I put 2” white styrofoam. This frame has 6×5” caster wheels on it which are rated at 500 lbs. each.The side walls were constructed the same way out of 2×4’s and plywood. The doors were 2×4 framed, plywood on the outside and the styrofoam glued to the plywood on the inside.

The inside of the kiln was then painted with 2 coats of aluminum paint (for moisture), followed by two coats of flat black oil based paint. The outside was then given two coats of a dark green paint.

The clear panels (Palram Suntuf) are about 6’ in length and attached to the frame with roofing screws and silicone caulking. The outside doors have 12”x3” vent doors in them, one at the bottom of the door, one at the top and that is to help with air movement when needed. I went onto Ebay and purchased a small solar fan to move the air around also.
This project cost me about $500 in materials and about 40 hrs. to build.

Today I finished the project and put about 150 bd/ft. in it for my first test run. I’ve got pine and juniper in there which have been air drying for a year and a bunch of flame box elder pen blanks which are fresh cut. Of course murphy’s law and on my first day its raining.

-- Carpe Diem





30 comments so far

View tburritt's profile

tburritt

21 posts in 1666 days


#1 posted 834 days ago

Looks good! Interested to hear the drying progress and outcome of your first run….

-- Just a small fish in a big pond trying to make a difference one job at a time.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

111999 posts in 2161 days


#2 posted 834 days ago

looks good hope it works great.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View MasterSergeant's profile

MasterSergeant

1277 posts in 1272 days


#3 posted 834 days ago

This makes complete sense! Let us know the results!!

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

14476 posts in 1151 days


#4 posted 834 days ago

its a pretty simple design. i may need to research some more

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View vakman's profile

vakman

301 posts in 987 days


#5 posted 834 days ago

Excellent execution it seems. One idea would be to add a moisture measuring instrument so you can track the progress.

-- - Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. -

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4807 posts in 1382 days


#6 posted 834 days ago

Looks a little different (not much) from mine but I know you are going to love it. You probably know this but from experience, I would suggest that you either fill it to it’s rated capacity or cover part of the collector area for smaller loads. These things are seriously powerful.

What part of BC are you from? I’m in Cowichan Bay.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View peterrum's profile

peterrum

135 posts in 1263 days


#7 posted 834 days ago

Vak, for now I am using a moisture meter to test the mc of the boards.
Right now I have the following MC
Pine – 15
Juniper – 12-18
Box elder – 33-35
I’ll post what it is in another month.

Shipwright, since you mentioned it I recalled reading about filling the kiln or covering part of it for smaller loads. How best is it to cover a half load? I’m just outside of Penticton.

Cheers

-- Carpe Diem

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4807 posts in 1382 days


#8 posted 834 days ago

You may have read that in a post I made to another build like yours. I dried a less than capacity load of arbutus the first time and just had too much heat. I had some areas just collapse. There are of course lots of high tech ways to deal with this but the low tech way is to just cover part of the collector. It works great. For a half load, I’d cover half of the collector surface until you get rid of the inter cellular water (about 18%). After that you can’t do any harm.

I did most of my research on the Woodweb. There are some good articles that came if I’m not mistaken from the University of Oregon.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View Milo's profile

Milo

849 posts in 1903 days


#9 posted 834 days ago

Is there a fan in it anywhere? I looked into this once and heard they help.

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View denovich's profile

denovich

30 posts in 1407 days


#10 posted 834 days ago

My admittedly ghetto solar kiln: I used 4 sheets of 5/8” OSB painted black + a lot of 2×4s to create 12’x4’x4’ box, with open top and bottom, sitting on bricks above my concrete driveway. I made a roof from 6mil clear PE sheet. In about 2 months of a PA summer, I got about 400bf of white oak/cherry/hard maple cut only a few months earlier down to 9-11% which is what kiln dried wood seems to normalize to when stored in my basement shop (I measured by weighing samples with a very accurate scale before and after a long time in a well controlled electric oven)

View peterrum's profile

peterrum

135 posts in 1263 days


#11 posted 834 days ago

Yep, there is a small solar fan in it. Denovich, your method and lots of others will work as well. I had to make mine look reasonable because the Mrs. would be on the warpath if it wasnt. I have always thought that in a pinch a black tarp wrapped around a large piece of wood would help to bake it in the sun. I’ve never tried it, but it might work. There’s lots of ideas out there.

I’m hoping to get mine down to 9% MC and thats all I need. For the stuff that has already been air drying for a year I don’t have far to go.

-- Carpe Diem

View denovich's profile

denovich

30 posts in 1407 days


#12 posted 834 days ago

Peterrum,

Do you have some sort of cover over the wood to shield it from the sun? I used a roll of rosin paper to keep the sun from affecting the color of the boards. Cherry gets a tan in a real hurry.

View peterrum's profile

peterrum

135 posts in 1263 days


#13 posted 834 days ago

I don’t have anything yet but i plan on getting that done tomorrow. Thanks for the advice.

-- Carpe Diem

View peterrum's profile

peterrum

135 posts in 1263 days


#14 posted 834 days ago

I don’t have anything yet but i plan on getting that done tomorrow. Thanks for the advice.

-- Carpe Diem

View Tyler's profile

Tyler

104 posts in 849 days


#15 posted 834 days ago

Great idea! I have researched a lot of solar wax melters (I am a beekeeper as well as a woodworker) which look very similar to this, but my dumb mind never thought of using one for a kin… love it.

-- Tyler- Montandon, PA ------ "It aint broke, it just needs fixed!"

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