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Take the lead and opt for a high-performance technology. Build on high performance technology. Using electrical technologies for drying softwood and hardwood, the heat pump has major advantages. Recognized for its high performance in the treatment of hardwood, dehumidification drying technology with PAC heat pump is increasingly sought for softwood. Used alone or in combination with another method, the heat pump provides a high quality finished product while being very economical.
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Wood-Mizer dehumidification and solar wood kilns range from 300 to 35,000 board feet capacity for drying lumber. Kiln drying lumber is a simple, cost effective method recommended for anyone who wants to increase profits by selling dried lumber. Kiln dried wood typically sells for a third more than green lumber and eliminates the need for customers to incur costs associated with drying lumber before use. The Wood-Mizer KD series of lumber kilns feature 100% corrosion resistant aluminum cabinets and specially coated dehumidification coils to ensure quality lumber drying performance and an extra-long life. The KS solar wood kiln is a simple and economical system for starting to kiln dry lumber. Download a free Introduction to Kiln Drying Guide that provides basic information on how to dry wood and the many advantages of drying your own lumber. Kiln chamber diagrams are also available. Review our complete range of lumber drying wood kilns below.
If you have found that beautiful piece of wood that you want for your next guitar, but it is either green or comes from an unclear source, you want to make sure it is dry enough before you start working on it. Wood tends to shrink and deform from when it is cut down to when it is fully dry or reaches its final moisture content. This is true for most woods used for indoor carpentry and even more so for musical instruments.
The general consensus is that you want the wood to reach the moisture content of the environment it is in. In most modern homes this would mean 6-9%. The main advantage of wood with this moisture content is that it will not deform or change shape when the instrument is built.
For wood to dry naturally it needs to have certain conditions, and even then it could take years, The rule of thumb for timber is that it will dry about 1 or 2.5cm a year. So if you have a 2 slab of wood, it will need at least two years to dry. The minimal conditions for that to occur are that I would be in a dry and ventilated area. This can be either indoors or outdoors but will require shelter from the rain, if outside, and proper airflow if indoors.
Relative humidity which we are used to when talking about the weather, is not the same as the Moisture Content we measure in lumber. 6-9% Moisture Content is comparable to 30-40% Relative Humidity. This is also what most modern homes will have. If you live in an especially humid or a dry area like a dessert, take that into account.
One of the limitations of drying wood is often the size. Fortunately for guitar builders, you can cut the timber to more manageable pieces. The other must-have conditions are that the area is dry. This just means that is should not be in a damp basement, or exposed to any other source of humidity. Most homes, with heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, will tend to be fairly dry. The third condition seems obvious but is really essential to drying in general and to the evenness of the drying process.
Probably the number one reason to use well-dried wood is that it will not deform. A bent neck or worse, a twisted neck, can easily make a guitar unplayable and useless. A well-dried and settled wood will not only have finished deforming by itself but will also be less susceptible to deformation if exposed to different external and environmental conditions. This will include better withstanding seasonal weather changes as well as travel.
Adjusting tuning is one thing, but you do not want to need truss-rod adjustments on a regular basis. Natural green wood is relatively flexible and will probably easily bend under the pressure of the strings. The drying process removes some of that flexibility and makes it a more rigid material. If you are working with hand tools, there is a point where it may be too dry and be harder to work with.
If you plan on steam bending any part of your guitar (mostly for hollow or semi-hollow guitars) you will actually prefer air dried wood. Over-drying wood may lose some of its flexibility and will break more easily. Kiln dried wood is also no favorable (Pun intended) for Barbeque or smoking food.
This is very intuitive if you just think of it and can be realized with the simplest tapping test. Green wood tends to sound a bit muddy and muted. The dryer is the more acoustic properties it will have. Without getting into the whole tone-wood issue, this is probably not as critical for electric and solid body guitars as much as it affects acoustic and semi-hollow guitars but does certainly affect the sustain and the way vibrations are carried through the neck and body.
More players, as well as manufacturers are paying attention to guitar ergonomics and the weight of guitars. Vintage Les Pauls have been notorious for their back breaking weight, to the point where Gibson have introduced weight relief in many models. Taking weight off your guitar is certainly an added value. Common woods used for guitar building, such as Ash and maple can lose between 20 and 40% of their weight when drying.
Mold and fungi thrive in damp and humid conditions. Drying the wood will eliminate existing molds and prevent more from appearing. In kiln drying where higher heat is also introduced, an insect that may be in the wood or have laid eggs will be eliminated. Since the wormholes will either be cut or filled, this will stop the issue.
Airdrying is simply giving nature optimal conditions to take its course, while eliminating natural elements which can ruin or otherwise change the wood in ways we do not wish. Wood will naturally loose its moisture to the environment and giving a dry space and good airflow will do most of the work.
Airdrying will only take you so far and in most weather conditions you will only be able to remove the humidity from the wood to 12-20%. These are the water molecules that are trapped in the wood and which will be released to try and reach equilibrium with the environment. In order to reach 6-9%, you will need to introduce heat to persuade the wood to chemically give up some more of the water it has within him. The process will involve causing some crystallization of the resin in the wood itself while extracting more moisture. A dehumidifier will also help.
** Some Luthiers may have very strong opinions and methods as to which drying technique will yield the best results. According to my research and experience these are the more common practices for both carpentry and building electric guitars.
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I am trying to heat a wood kiln safely to 140 degrees F. Ideally there would be a commercial product available. All electrical heaters have a high temp cut off switch around 120F that protects the heater. The only option I can think off is have the heater outside and duct the hot air inside, but that causes other issues with pressure and the unit not sealed.
I built a DIY jar preheater for my candle business from an old cabinet about 5 feet long by about two feet deep and two feet wide and heat it with 3 - 250 watt heat lamps (in ceramic sockets) to 150 degrees F. or more. I bought a cheap controller and thermocouple from Amazon to regulate the temp for about $20 and it works great! Getting out of the candle business and into woodworking and plan to use the heat cabinet to kiln dry resawn firewood. I covered the inside of the box with metal HVAC tape to reflect the heat and reduce loss through the box itself. Give it a try!