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DRYING WOOD: HOW KILNS CREATE THE PERFECT CANVAS

Staring at your kitchen table, you might not fully realize the amount of time, effort, and energy that went into making that piece of furniture.  Sure, you might understand that it took a craftsman hours to design, or a woodworker days to assemble, or even the weeks of tedious finishing to create the final look.  However, what you might not realize is that the work on your table started weeks, months, and sometimes years before anyone ever put hammer to nail.
Kiln drying wood can also be known as ‘seasoning’.  Kiln drying is the process of removing moisture from the wood prior to use, resulting in smoother and more workable boards and limiting the amount of warping, twisting, or buckling when being worked with.  With moisture related problems in wood resulting in millions of dollars in damages, great attention and care has gone into this important process.  As a result, there are three different types of traditional kiln wood drying.

Conventional: 

This process has been the standard for centuries.  Heat is provided by heated water coils, furnaces, or in some instances steam.  Moisture removed from the boards are then converted into water vapor and removed through an exhaust system.  By removing the excessive damp air within the board and replacing it with arid and dry air, the wood is less likely to become misshapen or break.  This is a higher energy cost kiln.

Dehumidification: 

A more energy efficient model, the dehumidification recirculates the heat within the chamber while removing water vapor.  These tend to be smaller chambers and are more effective with thicker woods.

Vacuum: 

Using high pressure, the wood dries at a lower temperature and is typically finished faster than either conventional or dehumidification methods.  While under pressure, moisture is released and removed quickly and efficiently.  The chamber is typically very small, but the reduction in processing time alleviates the back-up that can come with a smaller space.

Regardless which method is used, drying wood is an absolute necessity when it comes to woodworking, structure building, boat building, or any other project that requires wood.