Tigh-na-Ault, Lochcarron, Ross-shire, IV54 8YQ
Telephone: 01520 722568,
Email:Stuart MacLeod, 07831 091526
Operations Manager Neville Robbins, 07518 372392
Business Development Manager & Sales Gregor Black, 07934 491561

Woodworkz Kiln Drying

Timber dries out by the influence of ambient moisture levels, warmth and air-circulation and is a hygroscopic material. If dried and then left in damp conditions it will re-absorb moisture to an equilibrium level. If it happens to be furniture by then it could well be damaged.

In the UK drying by the “natural” process of air-drying, in-stick and covered to keep the sun off, will produce a moisture content not lower that 16% which is not suitable for furniture in today's dry and warm houses. Note that there is nothing natural about drying timber in that a tree grows, dies and rots as a normal cycle. Without a lot of labour-intensive work air drying will not produce the percentage of successfully dried timber that is possible with kiln drying, and it will still need further drying for use in furniture-making.

oak ready to be kiln dried

Stack of oak boards ready for kiln drying June 2015.

This requires a mechanical means to dry it at a controlled rate; as fast as possible from the point of view of economics, but not so fast it is damaged by splits and warpage. We are far from the old traditional method of drying “in-stick” for suitable airflow, keeping the rain and sun off, and even covering with burlap to keep damp on hot sunny days! Labour intensive and large stocks kept for years doesn't work.

Woodworkz uses a Heat-Vent kiln for the larger quantities which is controlled and will dry some 7 cu m of say, Oak, in about 4 weeks.

The equivalent quantity of Ash or Sycamore would take 1½ to 2 weeks. Control of the moisture gradient is obtained by restricting the vent and moderately high temperatures are used to speed the process. Ie max 60C. An initial heating up and conditioning stage allows the timber to be conditioned with vent closed to circulate warm and moist air and allow relaxing of tensions within. The same process is frequently used at the end of the drying cycle too.

An extension of this is the Steaming of timber. Here steam is generated for the first few days to relax the timber and then the normal Heat-Vent process continues. We shall be utilising multiple small kilns of this type to enable prompt drying of smaller parcels, particularly useful for customers with their own specific timber requirements. These are produced by Logosol (Sauno) and we will be testing the smaller version over the next few months.

Above are the usual methods of drying timber in smaller scale operations centred on hard woods. Additionally there are other methods such as vacuum drying and microwave systems but both well beyond our experience and finances.

A further development is the remote control of the main kiln once the yard is connected to the internet. This is in the design stage and we will report on the company involved in due course.

oak on bogeys

What's in the Kiln.

At present we have a about 5m3 of oak in varying thicknesses, and lengths, this will be topped up with a further 2m3 and then the process of kiln-drying will begin and continue over a period of one month. The timber will then be graded as to quality and appearance, before being put on our stock lists on this web site. Then stored under dehumidified conditions ready for sale.