Solar kiln for hardwoods

Woodsplitter67 Posted By Woodsplitter67, Oct 18, 2018 at 7:45 AM

  1. Woodsplitter67

    Woodsplitter67
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    My solar kiln, was made from the big box store wood racks as an experiment to see if i could season hardwoods like @Poindexter has done with softwoods.
    Materials used were wood racks, 2x4 pressure treated, 6 mil clear plastic, a small roap, contractors stretch wrap and a staple gun
    My wood racks were 5 inches above ground and sitting on 2x4 for a total of aprox 8 inches. I secured some two-by-fours on the ends and tied a rope between them making a roof over the top I put plastic around the racks and secured the bottom of the plastic to the first row of firewood with contractors stretch wrap and some Staples I cut in 3 vents to on either end approximately the size of a grapefruit and one smaller one in the middle this would was split in May and sat on the racks until the week of July 8th in which I started the kilm all of my splits were large 6 to7 in thick and 18 in Long and those splits at in the kiln until October when I open the Kiln the Cherry splits were down to approximately 2% and all of the oak was down to 9% so given that you could easily do two runs with in a rack
    The way that the kiln needs to be set up for Hardwoods is you need it in a full sun area you do not want the venting to be too much as you want the temperatures to get extremely warm within the kiln it does need to vent the moisture out so typically my kiln Ran from anywhere from 110 degrees and I've gotten it as high as 121 degrees
    The first day I ran my kiln it was a cooler day no more than 76 degrees and within a couple of hours of setting up the kiln it was over a 110. I used an air probe for my smoker to measure the internal temperature of the Kiln at various points.
    I did all of this to see if I ever get jammed up that I could actually season a Year's worth of firewood over the course of the summer I also did another experiment with nothing but Oak and even larger splits those splits started in the upper 30s to low 40s and I got them down to sub 20% moisture content in 2 months
    20170708_120316.jpg 20170708_120414.jpg
     
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  2. Jan Pijpelink

    Jan Pijpelink
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    Great stuff! Thanks for posting.
     
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  3. Akon

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    I put together a temporary solar kiln in mid September when I was moving wood and saw I had 1.5 cords of ash that was still low 30s. Used scrap wood and 6 mil plastic 12x6', 7' tall. 3 rows on pallets inside. Hoping it's good to go by Feb. Part sits under the deck so access point isn't in snow. I wasn't sure how big to make vent on top in balance of trying to keep it warm vs letting moisture out. I just used 1" pvc in front and back. I get consistent wind off the water; so, hopefully that's enough.

    image.jpeg image.jpeg
     
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  4. showrguy

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    Thanks for starting this Woodsplitter, my problem is I live in the woods and there's no way I can get full sun all day..
     
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  5. chemie

    chemie
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    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am very interested. I have four 4x8 and two 4X4 Landmann brand wood racks. We don’t have much space in our backyard so I just gathered about 2.5 cords of seasoned firewood from Craigslist to use in our newly installed BK AF25 insert. We live close by to a city forest filled with fallen dead oak trees from previous storms. I recently cut and split about 10 logs. The moisture of splits range %23 to %30. I’m hoping they could go below %20 so that we can use them in March-April. For next year though, if I could make sun kiln work , I can use it on the oak woods from the fallen dead trees in coming May.
    So if I could make it work, they could be even dry in 2 months ( May- June)?
    Do you have more pics of your set up that you can share?
    Thanks!
     
  6. Woodsplitter67

    Woodsplitter67
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    So with out a large solar gain your drying time will increase, but thats not to say you cant get quality results. In full sun i can easy make 2 runs and get sub 20% on both runs. So in your case eather a larger kiln, 2 kilns or just 1 kiln and 1 run. I would say try a 1 rack kiln run and post results which will help people similar to your situation. I believe my first run cost me less than 50 bucks to do and I'm still sitting on some of the material to put together another kiln
     
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  7. Woodsplitter67

    Woodsplitter67
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    So the biggest asset to the kiln is the sun and solar gain.. even though i have not proformed a run in the spring and winter. I did a run untill the latter part of october and the temps along with the diration of sun was not what i would consider ideal for seasoning

    Also. The wood needs to season on its own some for the process to work. Cutting wood and putting it in the kiln will only hinder the results. The center of the split will have alot of moisture in it and the ends will have shrunk down making it harder for the MC of the wood to drop..
     
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  8. chemie

    chemie
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    Do you consider wood obtained from fallen dead trees as pre-seasoned and can directlygo into kiln? I can talk about only one experience that I recently cut 10 logs from a dead tree and after the split , MC was about or below 30. I’m posting some pics so that you can have visual of the conditions of the wood. d9dd769f81752551d392cc2f5e1d42b8.jpg 06e85129a83f4e03dd80c125c339b01b.jpg
     
  9. Woodsplitter67

    Woodsplitter67
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    If your sub 30 i thinks your going to be ok its going to be hard ro tell from the pics but the wood dose not look green or wet. ..i can tell when the wood is ready by when the stacks start to shift, then you know you have achieved shrinkage..
     
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  10. showrguy

    showrguy
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    Well, I'm pretty good at keeping a few years ahead, but this solar kiln stuff has my attention..

    I sort of tried it this summer with a load of hickory slab wood on my dump trailer, I wrapped the 4 sides and top with a piece of plastic from my sisters green house, left it on for about 6 weeks, some days temps would hit 135 deg.

    Since then, they replaced the plastic on the g-house, I got the old stuff, so I have plenty to play with..
     
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  11. chemie

    chemie
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    What was the before and after MC reading of 6 weeks trial?
     
  12. showrguy

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    I did'nt check it after, before though most was under 20%, but a few were 30 +%, I also had a box fan in there blowin the air around..
     
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  13. Poindexter

    Poindexter
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    Awesome, thank you. This build is more or less the prototype I should have done before I built mine.
     
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  14. shortys7777

    shortys7777
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    Is the plastic touching the ends of the wood? By the pic it looks like it's wrapped pretty tight. Clearly your still getting good results. I'm going to try this in the spring. Thanks
     
  15. Poindexter

    Poindexter
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    So basically you got a couple of these from Home Depot:

    landmann-firewood-racks-82433-64_1000.jpg

    Placed them end to end. The vertical 2x4s at each end. Some rope for a ridgepole, scrap plastic, and you can season two loads (of hardwood) each summer at your location?

    Nice job.
     
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  16. Poindexter

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    The thing I love about this build is @Woodsplitter67 didn't really have to buy anything or use much in the way of tools.

    Those H-D racks are everywhere, inexpensive, lots of folks have them already.

    The 2x4s he used were plain old 8 footers. No cutting.

    For proof of concept you could get the cheapest plastic available. I am using 6mil clear and getting about 18 months per kiln cover, but if you want to just try this you could get the clear plastic drop cloth in the paint aisle for a lot less money.

    He did use some paracord, or similar, but what 50, 55 feet? Under ten bucks even up here, more like $3 or 4, even after shipping to Alaska.

    Starting from scratch and paying Fairbanks prices I could duplicate this build under $100.

    I am willing to bet most of you have most of the parts required laying around already.

    IIRC his has an open bottom and three grapefruit sized holes at the top per cord, he is seeing 110s dF, and it works. I am running one cantaloupe sized opening at the top for two cords with a vapor impermeable floor but the bottom edge of the roofing loose and free. I do see 140s dF in the summer, partly because I get 18+ hours of direct sunlight daily on mine at 64 degrees north.

    I do agree solar gain is key. Keeping the rain off is nice, but solar gain, high internal kiln temperature, lowers the target EMC (equilibrium moisture content) and increases the diffusion gradient between where the wood is and how dry it is trying to be to reach equilibrium. Solar gain, a hot kiln, makes the wood dry faster.
     
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  17. Poindexter

    Poindexter
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    @shortys7777

    As far as plastic touching the ends of the splits, what I see is when ambient is below freezing the moisture coming out of the wood condenses on the plastic and runs down. With ambients above freezing I don't see condensation on the inside of the plastic, i think then the water is mostly going out the top as vapor.
     
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  18. shortys7777

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    Thanks for the clarification. I have everything needed laying around except plastic. That'll be a purchase this winter.
     
  19. Woodsplitter67

    Woodsplitter67
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    The plastic is touching the ends of the splits, the bottom end of the plastic goes all the way down to the 2x4 rail that the splits sit on. There is nothing under the first row of splits to allow the air to work its way through the stacked wood and out the top vents.
     
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  20. ED 3000

    ED 3000
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    Good stuff, WS67. Thanks for doing the work and reporting back to The Community.

    And to top it all off, you got Poindexter's adulation. That's something.
     
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  21. rygar

    rygar
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    so with a solar kiln, how do you prevent the grain ends from clogging from drying too quickly?
     
  22. Woodsplitter67

    Woodsplitter67
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    Thanks ED i really never planned to post this in its owne thread. I didnt take alot of photos of what i have been doing and i have yet to take more data like how much the splits actually dropped in MC. My next run which will be this spring i will take the time to get more information to share. Im going to be doing a run on white oak this spring.
     
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  23. Woodsplitter67

    Woodsplitter67
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    Best bet is to let the wood season for 2 months prior to the kiln run. That should be good enough to let the rest of the MC run out...
     
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  24. rygar

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    excellent. all my wood has been C/S/S for a minimum of 6 months. so its all eligible for proper solar kiln.
     
  25. rygar

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    how long is a run?
     

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