Questions about small homemade drying kiln

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Forum topic by dirtycurty posted 06-11-2014 07:15 PM 3650 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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44 posts in 1578 days

06-11-2014 07:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I want to build a small kiln to dry turning blanks, spindle blanks, and green bowls. My research has found numerous people stating that a small homemade kiln will not get up to 130 degrees in order to kill Powder Post beetles and other little critters,why? Is it because light bulbs will not get hot enough?

Next question. Could I use a small electric ceramic heater for the kiln? It has a fan in it so it should circulate the air and it has 3 settings, fan only, low heat and high heat. I would think I could fine tune the temperature by adjusting the ventilation.

Please let me know if this is just a stupid and dumb idea or if this is a possibility. Any and all ideas would be appreciated.

The kiln I want to build would inside a corner of my shop, about 36” wide, 36” deep and 5 or 6 feet tall

8 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1799 posts in 2317 days

#1 posted 06-11-2014 08:52 PM


Do you plan to sell your wood? I use air-dried wood frequently and it’s never been exposed to anything near beetle-killing temperatures. If you’re observant and keep an eye on your wood supply, I don’t see a low-temperature home made kiln being an issue.

-- See my work at and

View Crank50's profile


173 posts in 1576 days

#2 posted 06-11-2014 09:41 PM

Three words.
Temperature & over-temperature control.
While it is relatively important to control the process temperature you also must have a safety backup to prevent over temperature from ruining your work, at best, or turning into a raging inferno, at worst.

There are three other ways to dry wood that are safer, IMHO.
1. Solar Kiln, but that is not going to fit in a corner.
2. Dehumidifier Kiln. Doesn’t kill bugs.
3. Vacuum dryer. Doesn’t kill bugs and is expensive.

Actually, a little, cheap 5000 BTU room air conditioner would probably do the trick to generate dry air.
Heat alone does not dry anything. It has to be coupled with air flow.
Air conditioned air will dry wood just as well, but won’t kill bugs.

Maybe a combination would be best. Dryer based on cool dry air and a final stage in a hot box in the sun to kill the bugs.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5662 posts in 2813 days

#3 posted 06-11-2014 10:06 PM

Just enclose the wood in a room or chamber with a household dehumidifier, box fans, and electric heater. That will dry your wood in a controlled manner. For me, I like to dry oak so it needs to already be air dried before kiln drying. It won’t kill bugs unless it gets hot, but usually you can tell if there is an active bug problem. I occasionally see bug holes in soft sapwood, but oak is dense and keeps most bugs from entering the heartwood.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3144 days

#4 posted 06-11-2014 10:24 PM

I’m planning on building a small scale solar kiln to put outside my shop, but I haven’t gotten very far into the design yet. All the designs online are for MUCH bigger arrangements than I need. Solar might work for your location if it being outside isn’t a big problem.

Right now I keep a dehumidifier running in my shop most of the time and that coupled with sealing ends of logs seems to be working well.

View rustfever's profile


752 posts in 3310 days

#5 posted 06-11-2014 11:00 PM

I dry small pieces of wood [such as pen blanks] in the micro wave. About 15 pieces of wood, each 1” x 1” x 3” into to my little micro wave for 2.5 minutes. I then let the wood set for an hour, then repeat. Usually takes 4 or 5 times a day for a couple of day seems to work.

Be careful. You can start a fire!. I actually charred one batch.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View AandCstyle's profile


3052 posts in 2257 days

#6 posted 06-12-2014 12:03 AM

A simple solution that may or not work for you is to put your stock in a closed vehicle in the sun for a few days. The temperature will get hot enough to kill bugs, depending on your location. This may not work in Nome, but works great in the desert SW. :D

-- Art

View dirtycurty's profile


44 posts in 1578 days

#7 posted 06-12-2014 05:58 AM

First I would like to thank everyone for the replies. I am inquirering about the heater because I do not want a solar kiln!!!! I have read about using the microwave which I may still try doing. rustfever how do know when your wood is dry enough? Do you use a moisture meter or do you weigh it on a scale? I know air flow is what dries wood and heat forces moisture out of the wood so the air can carry it away. My question about the heater (which I guess didn’t explain good enough) has a fan only, fan and low heat,fan and high heat selections. would the fan in the heater be sufficent air circulation or would I still need more fans? Also would the heat from the heater be to much heat and dry the wood to quickly?

View bold1's profile


293 posts in 1847 days

#8 posted 06-12-2014 11:54 AM

What you need to know when drying lumber is the Moisture content of the air around the lumber you’re drying. Whether you are air drying, forced air drying, or heated forced air drying, you need to be able to keep track of the moisture content of the air. That is what your lumber is going to dry to. The higher the temp. the better the air will pick up the moisture to carry it away, and thus faster drying, if you have air flow to carry it away. In most older dry kilns the moisture is tracked by graph with dry temp sensor and wet bulb sensor(wet bulb has a sock that wicks water over the temp sensor so you know what your air moisture content is). With out tracking air moisture you are just guessing what temp and air flow should be, and will prob. ruin as much lumber as you successfully dry.

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