September 20, 2023 2 min read
When it comes to making exquisite wooden tables, the drying process plays a quintessential role. Although wood has its natural mechanism to dry out over time, it lacks the ability to sterilize itself. This leaves hardwood vulnerable to various wood-boring insects that can inhabit it for up to a decade. Hence, the kiln drying process becomes indispensable.
Before the wood makes its way into the kiln, air drying is a crucial preparatory step. In some scenarios, lumber is air dried for a duration ranging from a few months to years. This phase is paramount because the kiln's role is twofold: to finalize the drying process and to sterilize the wood. This ensures that after crafting your table, you won't encounter any unwelcome insect visitors.
Each wood species has its unique drying requirements. While the majority of lumber benefits from an air drying period of six months to a year, some species thrive when introduced fresh to the kiln. The drying process is finicky and largely depends on the wood type. Some woods might even suffer in quality if air dried for too long. Mastering this requires extensive knowledge and experience.
Over the years, understanding the optimal drying methods for different wood species required significant research and reading. One general rule is that harder wood species demand more extended air drying. Conversely, softwoods, poplars, and soft maple display fewer defects when introduced to the kiln sooner.
In a quest to achieve the best results, two distinct types of kilns are operated. The first is a substantial traditional gas-fired unit, while the other includes three iDrive vacuum kilns.
Using an iDrive vacuum kiln may appear counterintuitive at first, as it introduces moisture into the chamber. However, this process keeps the wood's outer shells moist, facilitating the interior drying process. This method is more lenient in terms of the wood's initial moisture level, making it a versatile choice.
These outdoor units boast an impressive capacity, holding as much lumber as the three iDrive kilns combined. But this strength comes with a stipulation. Woods introduced to this kiln need to be air dried meticulously to achieve a consistent moisture content. If this isn’t ensured, there’s a risk of damaging the wood, compromising its quality.
Live Edge slab kiln drying isn't just a step in the furniture-making process; it's an art combined with precise science. It ensures that every piece of wood is not only visually stunning but also durable and free from harmful pests. As we embrace live edge furniture, we're witnessing a beautiful blend of nature's brilliance and human ingenuity.