Solar kiln #3: Almost complete!!

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Blog entry by Julian posted 11-01-2008 09:43 PM 5148 reads 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: loading the charge Part 3 of Solar kiln series Part 4: Almost dry »

I finally can see the end is near for this project. The top is now weathertight, with the exception of the 2nd layer of plastic that is to go on the bottom of the frame, and the baffle with a fan installed . The weather is starting to cool off, so I am not too worried about things going sour on me. Here are some pics of the kiln loaded with just over 200 bf of red elm..

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

10 comments so far

View lew's profile


13353 posts in 4830 days

#1 posted 11-01-2008 10:13 PM


I’m anxious to hear how well it works and how long it takes to get the moisture down to the desired level.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4897 days

#2 posted 11-01-2008 10:38 PM

This is looking real good. It will be interesting to see how the kiln works.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View elkhunter's profile


16 posts in 5152 days

#3 posted 11-01-2008 10:43 PM

Very intererested to see how it works! Have you thought about a clamp system to lock the lumber so it dosn’t warp and twist. A fellow mill owner and I have been trying to come up with some plans for somthing that will dry 500 to 1000 board feet. I have cut and air dryed 3800 to 4500 foard feet in the last three years on his mill and in my expereance there needs to at least be some weight on top to keep the boards stable. When air drying I use large rocks over exterior cdx grade plywood. That seems to do the trick. I also paint the end of the logs this keeps the checking to almost nothing. Iv’e squared boards after drying and still had color show through and it was sound to the end. On unpainted I have to trim 2 to 3 inches , a few 4 or 5 ! I bought a small wood mizer mill a few months back and have aquired a few trees to cut. I will be watching your progress with interest.

-- John of Idaho

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

501 posts in 4857 days

#4 posted 11-01-2008 10:44 PM

It’s looking good! I’m envious. I’ve no room in my yard for something like that, but you’re so close…..
I hear you should put a concrete block or something similary heavy on top of the stack to keep the top few boards from warping. Maybe one more row of blocking between the top boards & your plywood sunscreen, then some bricks?


View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 4980 days

#5 posted 11-01-2008 11:45 PM

What lew said. Here in Illinois the next few months are going to be gloomy and cold…the disadvantage of a solar kiln when the sun refuses to shine for 10 days straight. I run a little DH kiln so I can dry all year (cost about $300 to make, home made deal) Good luck and keep us updated for sure.

View Julian's profile


884 posts in 4600 days

#6 posted 11-02-2008 12:57 AM

I was thinking of using some budget ratchet straps to keep the boards from moving too much. Thanks for the tip on painting the ends. I’ve got some flat black exterior paint leftover that I will use on the ends.

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

View Quebecnewf's profile


100 posts in 4952 days

#7 posted 11-02-2008 04:52 AM

I built one like that a few years ago It has a solar powered fan in it works great. I dry one load of about 500 ft a year I could do 2 a two a year if i wanted to I dry mostly birch


View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 5401 days

#8 posted 11-02-2008 04:50 PM

someday when room and money permits, I’d like to do something like this as well.
thanks for sharing your experiences.

View Julian's profile


884 posts in 4600 days

#9 posted 11-03-2008 11:07 PM

I just priced out the clear corrugated fiberglass roofing, and it will be around $100 for the higher grade material. I might go ahead and get it soon. I would hate to have the plastic sheathing that’s on there now tear in the middle of winter. I can see a good ice storm reaking havoc on it.

With the corrugated fiberglass roofing included in the total cost, I will be up to about $450. That’s not too bad, considering the money I will save in not having to buy my hardwood from a supplier anymore. The red elm in the kiln cost $65 to mill, the gas to get it to the mill and back was $60, and the kiln was $450, for a total of $575 for 250 boardfeet of 16-19” wide elm boards. That’s only $2.30 a foot for lumber that would be almost immpossible to find elsewhere.

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

View Arnold's profile


215 posts in 4637 days

#10 posted 11-15-2008 04:18 PM

Great job, when did you say I could come over and “borrow” some elm? ;-)

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