Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 23: Loading the Kiln

7 or 8 years ago, my friend Reed and I built a solar kiln at his farm in Jasper County. It's a fairly simple structure that heats air in a passive collector, and moves the hot air through a pile of lumber with a couple of attic fans powered by photovoltaic cells. We found that it does a good job of drying lumber, and for the first couple of years it was standing, we usually had something or other drying in it. Life being what it is, various events in both our lives kept us from drying lumber for a few years, but with the new year, Reed decided to fire up the kiln again. We both have enjoyed using the lumber we dry, and we've also enjoyed selling some of our stuff to other woodworkers.

Last weekend, our sawyer at Champion Lumber in Shady Dale, Georgia, called to say he had a trailer loaded with pine he'd cut for us. I took the boys out and we spent most of the day loading the kiln.
All smiles as the hard work begins. They look like Stepford sons, don't they? If only. 

As the layers rise up, the guy in the kiln gets mighty warm. With the doors closed, we've recorded temperatures up to 160 degrees in this thing!

Most of the lumber we loaded into the kiln looked like this: wide, clear boards. Barring weeks of cloudy weather, this load (mostly 5/4 thick) should be ready sometime in April. After that, we have another load worth of 6/4 and 8/4 that looks just as beautiful!

 By the time the stack reaches the bottom of the air baffle that houses the fans, the inside guy barely has room to get out of the kiln. We think we put about 1200 board feet of lumber in last weekend. Stay tuned to see how it turns out!