How to Dry Wood in an Oven

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How to Dry Wood in an Oven

Letting the wood sit and dry is probably the most inexpensive way to do it.

At the same time, it’s probably the slowest way, and it has the potential to become a dreadful experience.

There are too many people who are in a hurry and need to dry the wood quickly. These are mostly people who are not in the construction industry. Therefore, they don’t have access to the necessary tools to make it happen.

That’s why they search online for effective DIY methods to use as a workaround. Fortunately enough, you don’t have to look past your kitchen because everything you need is already there.

The simplest solution is to use the common kitchen oven to dry cut pieces of wood. The oven speeds up the drying process which would have taken months in different conditions. Depending on the type of the wood and what you want to do with it, drying could take a couple of hours or more.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the procedure first, and then we’ll gradually move on to other sections.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Drying Wood in an Oven

Since you’re basically doing this in your home, DIY wood drying comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Home drying is a fully functional method, but you need to make sure that you understand what you’re doing. There are some minor drawbacks which might discourage some of you. That’s why we’ll mention them here before moving on. But first, let’s take a look at the pros.

Even and Quick Drying

The kitchen oven allows you to dry the wood evenly and reduce the moisture gradient between the core and the edges. Furthermore, the drying process is significantly faster than the alternative one (leaving the wood to sit in a dry space). It takes up to two hours (instead of weeks and months) for the wood to completely dry.

Pest and Mold Elimination

Another benefit is that it helps you deal with the pest infestation and eliminate it completely. Most wood pieces have termites, insect eggs, and other pests in them. The oven reduces them to ash and purges the wood piece. Additionally, the heat levels transform the surface of the wood and prevent mold from forming.

No Room for Defects

In comparison to various ‘uneven’ drying methods, drying in the oven completely eliminates the chance for a defect to happen. That refers to any bumps or gaps that might occur as the wood is drying and adapting.

The Drawbacks of Using an Oven to Dry Wood

Since this is a DIY method, it’s bound to have some drawbacks and flaws. Otherwise, everyone would use it if it didn’t have any. These are only minor drawbacks, and they shouldn’t be much of a problem. However, there are people who think otherwise.

The Method Requires Constant Attention

Leaving a piece of wood in the oven without constant monitoring is probably one of the worst ideas. We know that it would be excellent if you could set the timer and just leave it there until it’s done. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. Due to extreme heat levels, the wood is prone to frequent changes. You need to be attentive at all times and look for any anomalies on the surface. Otherwise, the wood might burn inside the oven and cause a potential disaster in your home.

Drying Decorative Pieces Is Problematic

Those of you who want to dry wood pieces for decorative purposes should know that you can’t control the entire drying process. As the wood piece dries, its surface changes and that’s normal (given that the heat level is high). However, the wood might end up looking completely different after the procedure. If you, however, want to try it out anyway, you should prepare a couple of sample pieces first. Try it out, and see what’s happening with the piece. If everything’s normal, just proceed with the drying, but be cautious.

How to Set It Up

If you found the answers you were looking for in the previous section and you still want to proceed, you need to pay attention to some things. In order to help you eliminate any potential inconveniences, we’ve assembled this short guide. The goal of the guide is to help you set up your oven properly before you place the wood inside.

Step One — Position the Racks

The first thing that you need to do is to prepare the racks that will hold the wood piece. You need to make sure that there’s plenty of space for the air to flow. The air needs to circulate both above and under the wood. One of the racks needs to be at the bottom while the other should be in the center.

Step Two — Set the Temperature

The next step is to preheat the oven to the value between 200 and 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Our advice is to set the temperature to 216 degrees, since that’s the most optimal one. However, you can set it to any value from the range mentioned above. If your oven has a convection fan, it might be a good idea to turn it on. Once 15–20 minutes have passed, check the temperature to see whether it’s optimal or not. If you’re sure that you did everything right, proceed to the next step.

Step Three — Place the Wood Inside

Since there’s room for two big pieces in the oven, load each piece on the available racks. Make sure that the pieces aren’t touching and that they are properly lined up. The same goes for loading a set of smaller pieces on each rack (they must not touch). With smaller pieces, it’s important to set them across the racks so that they don’t fall through the gaps.

Step Four — Monitor the Drying Process

Once you close the oven door, it’s up to you to monitor the drying process and make sure that everything goes according to plan. We’ve mentioned that there’s a slight chance that something unexpected might happen, so always be on the lookout. The drying should last no more than an hour, and you’ll have to check the process in 10-minute intervals. You can check the pieces by taking them out and looking for moist parts. If you see signs of moisture, place it back into the oven and wait a bit more. Another 10–15 minutes should do the trick.

Step Five — Cool the Wood Down

If you think that the drying process is done, take the pieces out of the oven and place them in a dry space. Alternatively, you can mount the pieces on a cooling rack. If there are still some signs of moisture, you’ll have to retrace the steps until they’re gone.

That should be it. The drying process isn’t that much complicated, as many people claim. However, you need to know what to do and when to do it. That’s why we’ll talk about safety precautions in the following section, just to be sure.

Safety Precautions

Oven Protection

It goes without saying that your safety should always be a top priority. Using an oven without protecting yourself is likely to cause some serious injuries. That’s especially true if you’re doing something unconventional like drying wood in the oven. Therefore, we’d like to divert your attention to the things you should never do.

When you’re removing the racks from the oven, always make sure that you’re wearing oven mitts. Alternatively, you could use some other heavy-duty gloves. In addition, always check whether your oven mitts are torn or if there are any holes in them. There are some instances where people have injured themselves because their mitts had holes in them.

Furthermore, if smoke starts coming out of the oven, the first thing to do is to turn everything off. It’s highly likely that the piece of wood started burning inside. You need to make sure that the oven door stays closed. Stand aside, and try to see if there are any flames inside.

If you notice the flames inside the oven, turn the oven off if you haven’t done so previously. Whatever you do, don’t open the oven door if you don’t want to cause additional damage to your kitchen. We know that this sounds a bit odd, but the only reasonable thing to do is to wait for the flames to burn out. Once you notice that the fire ceased, open all doors and windows and allow the outdoor air to circulate through your home.

A Few Last Words

All in all, now you know how to transform an ordinary kitchen appliance and turn it into a tool for drying wood. True, there are some risks when using it, but it makes up for that by speeding up the whole drying process. Furthermore, you don’t have to spend crazy amounts of money on various stoves and kilns. Unfortunately, this method only allows you to dry small to medium-sized pieces, which might disappoint some people. But if that’s the case, there’s always the old-fashioned way of drying wood. Anyway, we hope that this article was of some use to you and that now you know what to do in case you decide to attempt this wood drying method.

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