Friday, February 15, 2013

Loading the Solar Kiln

Earlier this week, we embarked on the task of loading the solar kiln. On the property, we cut and dry a lot of our own wood. In past entries, I have written about our adventure cutting apart a maple tree that had fallen in a nearby cemetery. Well, now it was time to stack those cut boards on the drying piles for the couple of years it will take for them to dry naturally. Since the weather was spring-like ("spring-like" just meaning there wasn't snow on the ground), we took advantage and set to work outside.
Before we could stack the freshly cut boards, we had to take some of the dried boards and move them into the kiln for the final stage of drying. We loaded up the truck with the older boards and stacked the new boards, covered and weighed down to ensure flatness, on the drying pile.

Then, it was time to stack the [mostly] dried boards on rolling carts that slide into the solar kiln. Keeping in mind that between each layer, there are evenly spaced and sized sticks that must be placed to keep the boards elevated and allow the air to circulate between them. Each board was strategically placed to accommodate for the narrowness of the kiln and the thickness and shape of the boards.

The boards were weighed down with cement blocks (just like the drying pile outside) and then covered with a large black rug. As you can see, the kiln is painted black and the black tarp is drawn over the stack as well. The panels on the top of the kiln allow for the sunlight shine through as it is attracted to the dark color and thus, it dries the boards.

This kiln allows for the power of the sun to dry the wood instead of electricity. It also nearly eliminates the possibility of the wood drying too quickly. Soon enough, these boards will be dried to a moisture percentage that allows them to be worked with indoors. And, all the while, the process is beginning again as the newly cut maple boards start their drying cycle outside.

The kiln is loaded, the new boards are stacked, and we are working diligently to finish a cabinet for the shop. Always new and interesting things happening at the shop! Until next time, Happy Friday!

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