Freshly cut and processed wood must be dried so that it can be used for construction, crafts, carvings, and even as fuel for a fireplace. During the drying process, the amount of moisture in the freshly cut wood is reduced. The most practical and cost effective drying method available for the average person is air drying.
Part 1 of 4: Preparing the wood
Step 1. Saw the tree
The logs should be cut into planks as soon as possible to prevent the ends from drying out and wood decay. The ideal board thickness is 2.5 cm, but you can cut the logs into boards 2 to 5 cm thick. If you are sawing yourself, try to maintain a uniform length and thickness. Also, this work can be performed at the nearest sawmill.
You can cut wood slightly thicker to allow for shrinkage
Step 2. Process the ends of the boards
The ends of the boards dry out faster than the rest of the area. For a more uniform drying of wood, it is recommended to treat the ends with a sealant immediately after cutting. To do this, you can use a market end sealant, paraffin wax, polyurethane shellac, or latex paint. Apply a layer of your chosen material to protect the ends from drying out.
Step 3. Determine the drying time
For air drying of wood, the duration is determined by the formula. Assume 1 year of drying per 2.5 cm of board thickness. This formula provides only a rough estimate. It does not take into account all variables like weather and the location of the stack of boards.
For example, drying planks 2.5 cm thick will take about 1 year
Part 2 of 4: Choosing where and how to lay the boards
Step 1. Choose a suitable location
During air drying, the wood must remain outside to be exposed to atmospheric conditions. The place must meet the following requirements:
- To maximize airflow, choose a location that is not surrounded by buildings or green spaces that obstruct wind movement.
- Choose a location with a slight slope so that water does not accumulate under the wood.
- The site should not be under the foliage of trees, otherwise moisture will get on the top layer. The wood will dry faster if stacked on an asphalt or concrete surface.
Step 2. Prepare the base for the stack
For proper drying, the boards must be folded in a special way. First, prepare a solid base:
- Place two rows of three equally spaced concrete blocks. The length of the rows should match the length of the planks. The distance between the blocks should be 45-90 cm.
- Place a 10x10 cm wooden block across each pair of concrete blocks.
Step 3. Fold the boards and slats
Between each layer of boards, it is necessary to use spacers in the form of wooden slats with a thickness of 1.5 to 2.5 cm so that air can freely pass through the pile of wood.
- Lay 5-6 planks on the cross beams at the same distance from each other. Each board in the stack should be approximately the same length.
- Use slats at both ends.
- Place additional slats every 45-60 cm of board length.
- Repeat the steps, stacking subsequent layers of planks and planks in the same places for each layer until the stack is complete.
Step 4. Make a weighted roof
A roof is needed to protect the boards from rain and snow. Follow these steps:
- Take a few 10x15 cm bars, the length of which exceeds the width of the stack by 15-20 cm.
- Place each bar across the stack. Spread the blocks evenly over the entire length.
- Take a sheet of metal that will protrude 8-10 cm from each side of the stack.
- Place a sheet of metal on the crossbars.
- Load the sheet with several cement blocks. Place blocks along the slats.
Part 3 of 4: Controlling the Drying Process
Step 1. Check the moisture content of the wood regularly
The quality of the dried boards depends on the drying speed. Check the moisture content of the wood every 1 to 3 days to ensure the optimum drying rate. An electronic moisture meter can be used. Using the obtained values, you can determine the planned moisture content of the boards.
The moisture content of wood after air drying is usually reduced to 20-30%
Step 2. Identify drying defects
If it dries too quickly or too slowly, the structure of the wood changes. If the boards dry too quickly, you may find longitudinal cracks in the wood fibers, splits, internal cracks or warpage. If the boards dry too slowly, stains or rot may appear.
Step 3. Make the necessary changes
If the drying speed of the boards is not correct, you will need to redesign your stack.
- If longitudinal cracks occur, you can do the following: widen or double your stacks, reduce the distance between the boards, use thinner slats or cover them with a cloth to protect from the sun's rays.
- In the event of warpage, you can do the following: place the battens directly on top of each other, use the same battens, ensure that the boards of each layer are the same thickness, or install a roof over the stack.
- If stains and rotten spots appear, try the following: Decrease the width of the stack, increase the distance between the stacks, increase the distance between layers of planks, or remove obstructions that block air flow.
Part 4 of 4: Other Ways to Dry Wood
Step 1. Drying in a shed with fans
You can stack the planks in the barn to completely protect them from the weather. On the one hand, the shed should be open to wind access, and on the other, a row of fans should be installed. The latter will push air through the stack of boards and shorten the drying time.
Step 2. Forced air drying
If you can, you can build a ventilated dryer. Find or build an enclosed area with fans that can supply and recirculate hot air. Stack up stacks of planks indoors for forced air drying or pre-drying of wood.
Step 3. Drying oven
For a certain amount, freshly cut or sawn wood can be dried in a sawmill. The cost usually depends on how quickly the job is done. Most sawmills use computer-controlled industrial kilns. The software allows you to determine the ideal temperature conditions for each type of wood, the degree of moisture and the volume of wood material.