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I want to build a solar lumber kiln.

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Forum topic by Emma Walker posted 08-31-2012 03:18 PM 2385 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Emma Walker

560 posts in 833 days


08-31-2012 03:18 PM

Our wooded acres have a lot of dead Dutch Elm trees that are still standing and solid. There’s a guy in a town 10 miles away with a portable saw mill and I want to turn those Elm trees into lumber.

Does anyone have any experience with something like this?

http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/WoodDrying/wood_kiln.htm

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.


18 replies so far

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 833 days


#1 posted 08-31-2012 07:48 PM

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View Paul Miller's profile

Paul Miller

32 posts in 2176 days


#2 posted 08-31-2012 07:59 PM

Tons of info at:

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php

Look under “drying and processing”

Paul

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

15421 posts in 1290 days


#3 posted 08-31-2012 09:47 PM

Its on my to-do list. You can still air dry your lumber. Whoever said lumber will never dry was dead wrong. All lumber will take the moisture content of its surroundings. An attic is a good spot if you have one.

I’ve been air drying lumber for years. My bench is made from air dried Elm, just like you want to cut.

A kiln is a cool thing to have though, and turns a years worth of drying time in a few weeks. It also helps stabilize the lumber, especially lumber with a lot of pitch.

There are several examples here on LJ. Here is one I finally remembered to favorite.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/63805

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

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1243 posts in 1019 days


#4 posted 08-31-2012 10:18 PM

I helped someone build one. They had doors through the ends which seemed like it would be difficult to load. The pics above make more sense. I also thought it would be cool to put the whole affair on hay wagon running gear to move it to take advantage of the moving sun.

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 833 days


#5 posted 09-01-2012 01:33 AM

Thanks Don! You’ve always been on top of answering my questions and I really appreciate that. Some years ago Dutch Elm disease, left all of our Elm tree’s dead. It’s easy to identify them because the bark all falls off and the wood trunks are very white-ish. I have no idea how good the quality of elm is, I just never here that much about Elm or if it’s worth getting milled.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

15138 posts in 1061 days


#6 posted 09-01-2012 04:45 AM

Elm can make very beautiful wood. I really like. Darren Nelson of Nelsonwoodworks.com also has plans for a home made kiln (non solar). I liked them, might give them a look. Good luck and welcome to LJ’s.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Paul Miller's profile

Paul Miller

32 posts in 2176 days


#7 posted 09-01-2012 07:13 PM

Cutting dead elm can be very dangerous. Dead limbs can break off when vibrated by the chainsaw or when the tree starts to fall. More than a few people were killed or injured when the disease went through here (Michigan) 30 years ago when folks cut it for firewood. I’ve done it a lot, but my felling cuts were crooked because I was always looking up.

Wear a hard hat and be careful,
Paul

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Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1838 days


#8 posted 09-01-2012 07:28 PM

having doors at the end can be a good thing
but want to avoiding to work in low tight space many
makew rails in the floor and outside the kiln
and use a low wagon on the rails and work outside
when stacking and unloading the wagon

you can use attic as said as well as a greenhouse to dry your wood
as long as you have enoff airfloow between the layers of wood

good luck with project :-)

Dennis

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 833 days


#9 posted 01-12-2013 02:03 PM

dhazleton said:
I also thought it would be cool to put the whole affair on hay wagon running gear to move it to take advantage of the moving sun.

I’ve seen lumber kilns that sat upon a huge lazy susan and could be turned 360°

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View fuigb's profile

fuigb

206 posts in 1680 days


#10 posted 01-12-2013 04:34 PM

@ Paul Miller – funny that you mention the disaster in Michigan. I watched what it did in Detroit and the city never looked the same. Hardly ever see elm on the hoof, as it were. The local Habitat for Humanity store also carries lumber harvested locally, and the last time in they had elm. Had to wonder where they found it after all of these years.

Re: the solar kiln… Is it worth the effort? For a hippie with a commercial need I can see it, but is it worth the time and expense for someone using less than hundreds of board feet per year? Maybe if you’re planning to sell the stuff?

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

15138 posts in 1061 days


#11 posted 01-12-2013 05:27 PM

Emma, in my opinion if you have trees at your disposal, it is worth it to cut and dry your own. The ones that buy perfect lumber at the box stores will never understand the joy of taking it from tree to finished product. I am building a kiln in my shop. Yes i will go through thousands of board feet of lumber, but I would do it even if I didn’t.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 833 days


#12 posted 01-12-2013 09:08 PM

I agree, being able to creat your own lumber to use in your own projects makes it all the more personal and keepsake-ish.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View fuigb's profile

fuigb

206 posts in 1680 days


#13 posted 01-12-2013 09:20 PM

It’s a matter of scale and space. You wouldn’t build a car that you’d go on to use once or twice a year, so why a kiln? If you’re large scale enough to make it worthwhile then go for it. But if you’re only a couple of hundred feet per year then why not just air dry? FWW I almost always have stickered piles drying, cut from trees that mean something special to us, and that’s pretty cool.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

15421 posts in 1290 days


#14 posted 01-12-2013 11:19 PM

A kiln is on my to do list. I’ve always done air dry but I’m always a bit nervous about bugs and the kiln helps stabilize.

The question of scale is a consideration, but you wouldn’t need to limit its use to just your wood.

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

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 833 days


#15 posted 01-13-2013 01:42 AM

Yup, you could always use it for warming up leftovers.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

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