Dry Small Parts in Your Oven
I want to make a box out of wood from a tree that fell recently. I had it milled into boards, but the sawyer told me that it would take several years to air-dry the wood outside. Is there a way I can dry it myself, without waiting forever for it to cure outside?
Archie Matteson, Bakersfield, CA
If the boards are small enough, you can dry them in your household oven. You’ll also need a kitchen scale and a pen and paper.
Label each piece of wood and record its weight on a chart, then place the pieces on the racks in your oven. Set the heat at 250° for about 30 minutes and turn the oven off, leaving the wood inside with the door closed. The next day, take each piece out, weigh it, and write down the weight. Then put the pieces back in the oven and repeat the steps from before.
As the wood loses moisture, it will lose weight. The process could take four or five days for a board that is 1 in. thick. Once the wood stops losing weight, it is dried, but before you use it, you still need to let it acclimate in your shop for a few days.
It’s normal for the wood to warp and check a little in the process, so make sure you start with blanks that are thicker, wider, and longer than your final dimensions.
Label and weigh. Mark the pieces clearly so you can easily identify each one. Record the weight of each piece before and during the drying cycle.
Into the kiln. Using your home oven at low temperatures creates the right conditions to speed up the drying time of small parts.