Wood is one of the commonest materials that is used for a lot of things domestically and industrially. They are used for heating our homes and cooking, entertaining, and building construction, to mention a few.
These wood are only valuable for us when they are well seasoned, so the need to have dry wood can never be over-emphasized.
When woods are dry, they become less heavy and more resistant to biological deterioration from insects and fungi, and their strength is also increased.
Oak is one of the most used hardwoods around, and they must be properly dried before they are used. You can get your green oak dried by either sun drying them or drying them in a kiln. The latter is the fastest and the most effective way of getting your oak well seasoned.
So today, we will be telling you how to get your oak dried in a kiln, how long it will take for it to be adequately dried, and every other thing you will need to know.
What Does It Mean To Kiln Dry Oak?
A kiln is a chamber whose atmospheric condition is controlled so that woods placed there can get dry. Drying oak in a kiln involves putting them in a chamber that is designed in such a way that the air circulation, temperature, and relative humidity is controlled so that the moisture content of the wood is reduced to a certain desirable point while ensuring that the wood does not show any drying defects like cracking or splitting.
Here are some of the different types of kiln that are used in drying wood, especially oak.
1. The Conventional Kiln
This type of kiln in which steam flows through pipes into the kiln and radiates heat in the atmosphere; this will cause water from the wood to evaporate as vapor and discharge from the kiln with the hot air from the steam. You need a lot of energy to heat the steam; hence, it is not relatively economical or efficient.
2. The Dehumidification Kilns
This is the most popular kiln used for seasoning wood these days. Unlike the conventional kiln, where heat is discharged from the kiln, the dehumidification kiln continuously recycles the heat for drying woods.
The moisture in the form of water vapor that escapes from the wood is condensed on the dehumidifier’s coils, and when it becomes liquid, they are then disposed of.
This kiln uses electricity which is a lot more expensive than the gas used in the conventional kiln, but their efficiency and eco-friendliness far outweigh the cost.
3. The Vacuum Kilns
This kiln is not so commonly used for drying wood because it is about four times more expensive than the two types of kiln mentioned earlier; however, a high-drying speed process is the most effective and efficient.
Kiln drying woods is a fundamental process if you want to use your wood or wood products to be efficiently dried.
Until your wood, especially oak, is dried, machining, finishing the wood, and even gluing becomes a problem because of the high moisture content of the wood.
Can You Kiln Dry Oak?
Yes, indeed, you can kiln-dried oak-like most hardwoods. Oak is timber that is prone to slight splits (which is also known as checks). They also dry very slowly, and they also shrink as they dry out.
You can correct the shrinking in the dimension of your oak by cutting them to be oversized so that even when they shrink, they will be the exact dimension you want.
You can also minimize splitting by ensuring that the moisture in the wood design does not reduce too quickly.
How To Kiln Dry Your Oak At Home
If you have lots of trees that you fell or you got these woods from around you, and you are thinking of a very efficient way of drying them, then you can resort to making a DIY kiln at home for drying your wood.
Follow the steps below to kiln dry your oak or any other wood for that matter.
1. Mill Up Wood
Gather up the wood from all the sources available to you. You can check with your local tree trimmers and arborist to get more wood for seasoning.
Then get a sawyer to cut the wood to the standard sizes sold locally, or you can resort to cutting them to the size you want.
If you have a chain saw and the wood is not so thick, you can mill the wood by yourself ( it is really a daunting task, and you must be very conversant with how to use the chain saw properly too, so you don’t hurt yourself or people around you).
Before you attempt to cut the wood yourself, ensure that you protect your eyes, nose, and mouth with a face mask because dust from wood can be a nuisance.
2. Seal The Grain
It is essential to seal the grain of your wood to prevent splitting and cracking as moisture in the wood perspire. What sealing does for the wood is that it closes up all the open pores in the wood.
You can use paint or wax to saturate the ends of the wood many times. You can also use an equal mixture of glue and water and coat on the surface to seal the grain of the wood.
3. Air dry your wood first
Oak, like most wood, have about 32% of their volume to be water, and you start seasoning them by air drying the oak for about four months after milling the wood so that it can naturally lose its water content. This water loss is usually about 8% of its moisture content.
Get a look location with the good prevailing wind and place a piece of plastic on the ground where you will be keeping the wood to keep the humidity from the ground from getting to the wood.
Then stack the wood in such a way that there is a lot of space so that air can flow easily through all the wood
4: Build The Kiln:
After four months or thereabout of drying the wood, they are now ready to be kiln-dried. Build your kiln by getting an enclosed space or room and laying a clear plastic roll on the ground with a frame with 2×4 studs on top of it; this is where the wood will rest on.
All the seams should be sealed with vapor barrier tape to ensure that the moisture does not escape. You then cut a few access holes to test the wood moisture contents in different places and control the dehumidifier. The holes are taped up once you have finished checking the moisture content.
Then place the household dehumidifier and fan in the opposite direction around the room. As the fan blows air, it ensures that the wood dries evenly. The dehumidifier is set to maximum. Your kiln is now fully functional, and your wood should be left there for about four months for them to dry properly.
How Long Does It Take To Kiln Dry Oak
The length of time it will take an oak to be kiln-dried depends on some factors, including:
1. The thickness of the oak:
The thicker the oak you want to dry in the kiln, the more time it will take to dry. This is so because thick woods have less surface area regarding their volume from which moisture can escape from them.
If you are looking to dry your wood faster, you have to cut them thinner to increase its surface area.
2. The type of kiln used in drying the wood:
We have already established that there are different types of kiln, and they all vary inefficiency. The vacuum kiln is the most efficient of all of them and so will be seasoned your oak a lot faster than other kilns. They are, however, very pricey.
3. The Initial Moisture Content Of The Oak:
If the wood you want to kiln dry has been cut and left to air dry for a long time before putting them in the kiln, then a lot of the moisture will have been dried out, which means it will take a shorter time to get the wood adequately seasoned in the kiln.
4. The Ambient Conditions:
Three main elements must be available for wood to dry properly: air movement around the wood, an atmosphere whose relative humidity is low, and the sun that provides the energy for removing the water from the wood.
In the summer, these elements combine to make wood dry faster, even in the kiln. When the sun is shining brightly, and the weather is low in humidity, and the wind is blowing, your wood will dry a lot faster.
All these said it would take an oak dry about four months of being in a kiln to be seasoned appropriately for use.
You can tamper with these factors that affect the time it takes for an oak to be dry if you want it to dry faster.
Wood Qualities Improved After Kiln Drying The Oak
When woods are properly seasoned, some of their qualities are improved, including :
1. The Strength Of The Wood:
When wood is properly seasoned in a kiln, that wood can withstand any load without breaking. That is why the wood must be dry for any work that must be done with wood to withstand the forces acting on it and not deform.
2. The Hardness of the Wood:
Wood is hard if it is not brittle but is rigid and firm and does not scratch or get indented on impact. When wood is kiln-dried, it makes the wood become harder.
3. Durability :
Kiln-dried wood is durable because it can withstand wear and tear or even decay over a prolonged time, even when used repeatedly.
A piece of furniture will last a lot longer if it is made of a good wood like oak that was adequately dried.
Woods that are properly seasoned have less weight, and this is an advantage because it means the cost of shipping and handling of the wood is reduced; it also makes its maneuverability a lot easier.
5. Painting and finishing:
Dry wood makes for a better finish than a wet one; if a wet wood is painted with a primer coat that does not block stains, moisture or extractive can bleed through the wood into its surface and ruin the paint and the finish.
6. Gluing of The Wood:
Moisture and those resins and lignin from wet wood can prevent complete adhesion of wood and hence will cause the glue not to stick on the wood in the course of making furniture and building with it.
7. Resistance to insect attack:
The less seasoned wood is, the more moisture it contains and the more prone to insect attack. Water is the growth medium for many microbes to grow, and so if your wood is moist, it encourages the growth of a different organism that attack and damage wood. So you can preserve your oak by properly seasoning them.
Precautions While Drying Wood
As you try to season your wood, you must keep in mind the following precautions:
1. Woods must be dried in an environment where the condition is fairly stable and ideal for drying wood.
2. The moisture from the wood should be extracted from every area of the log at the same rate because if the parts of the wood dry faster than others, it will give the wood an irregular shape.
3. As much as possible, wood should not be exposed to rain or high humidity for seasoning.
4. Wood should be adequately spaced as they are dried; this is to ensure that the log receive an equal amount of air
Woods are a part of our everyday life, and they help make our lives. There are green woods which are wood that is not dried enough for use both domestically or industrially.
You can kiln dry this wood using one of the kilns mentioned above to get a strong, hard, and durable wood that will serve you for longer.
So go ahead, and the kiln dries your wood; it is worth the cash you will be paying to install one.
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We trust this article helped What is Kiln Dried Oak? You may also want to check out Is kiln Dried Wood Better Than Seasoned?
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