iDry Vacuum Kiln

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EQUIPMENT REVIEW • by Dave Boyt iDry Vacuum Kiln “W three questions that just about every sawyer gets asked on a regular basis. Next is “That long, huh?” followed by “Isn’t there any way you can have it by next week?” While most experienced woodworkers are savvy about drying wood, a lot of amateurs don’t realize just how long it takes to bring 6/4 white oak down to 7% moisture content or the consequences of using wood that hasn’t been kiln dried. When one of my regular customers needed 800 board feet of 4/4 kiln-dry sweetgum for a rush job, I called Jim Parker, the owner and president of iDry Kilns, to see if there were any vacuum kilns in the area that could help expedite the order. As it turned out, he located one about 25 miles south, near the small town of Garfield, Arkansas. Jesse Lamborn of Lamborn Construction indicated that he could kiln dry the freshly milled sweetgum in less than a week. So, what exactly is a “vacuum kiln” and how does it dry wood so quickly with fewer defects than con- ventional drying? According to Jim, “vacuum” is a bit of a misnomer. “It is more of a low-pressure kiln, since it isn’t possible to pull a perfect vacuum,” he explained. “Think of it this way,” he continued. “At high altitudes, water boils at lower temperatures because there is less pressure. Our kilns reduce the pressure to the point where the water in the wood boils at around 130°F.” Since the moisture is driven out of the wood by vapor pressure instead of being pulled out by capillary action, as is the case with hen will the wood be ready?” is one of 10 • Sawmill & Woodlot

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