Intro to Quality Kiln Drying

In past years, our lumber was exclusively air dried under cover of our hoop tents. With the sun’s heat and fans to circulate the air, it has sped up the drying process versus just being stored in a damp container. Yet we knew we could improve both the speed and quality with the addition of a vacuum kiln.

Our kiln differs from solar kilns by drying the lumber at a lower temperature. The material is loaded in a chamber which circulates hot air to dry the wood under vacuum pressure. Water is forced from the center of the wood and is circulated as water vapor throughout the chamber to condition the material, preventing cracking or case hardening. As a plus, the wood retains more of the original color while gaining stability.

Our process produces high quality lumber with minimal degrade significantly faster than conventional methods.

Kiln dried lumber in weeks, not years!

Our kiln drying process starts at the very beginning…
photo showing a load of lumber getting loaded into the kiln at Rustic Roots Warehouse
Preparing a load…
photo showing green lumber stickered and stacked waiting to be ready for kiln drying
Green lumber drying until kiln ready…

Once the wood leaves the sawmill, we remove the sawdust and stack the lumber or slabs with stickers between each layer. During this process, attention to detail is paramount as the material must be stacked level, with enough stickers for airflow and stability. After strapping these bunks into manageable sizes, we’ll store them for a few months until they’re ready for the kiln. 

large image showing load of wood slabs being loaded into the kiln

What's a sticker?

Sticker Definition

Stickers are small strips of wood placed to separate lumber pieces or individual slab layers in a stack of material.

Ours are cut from pine at 3/4″x 1.5″ x 3′

Once the wood reads about 25-30% on the moisture meter, they’re carefully stacked on the kiln deck, then the trolley is easily rolled into the chamber. The iDry Plus can accommodate up to 4000bdft at a maximum length of 16ft. Typically we mill slabs at the 9-13ft range for simpler loading and storage.  

Rustic Roots Warehouse kiln being loaded at night

For air drying, there’s a general rule of thumb: one year for every inch of thickness, with some variance between species. Though our tents reduced drying time by a few months, thicker slabs and mantels required more. Even then, obtaining 15% and below (the usable moisture content for anything air dried) is difficult to maintain if stored outdoors. With our kiln we can achieve levels below 10% in a week or two with 1″ material. After 3-6 months of air drying, our 2″ stock takes no more than three weeks in the kiln and we reach moisture content of around 7%.

Our slabs are very stable and retain much of their natural color…

Nearly every piece of wood through our lumber yard has a story and a purpose; we do our best to reduce waste and maximize production. We’re continually learning how to improve our process thus providing our community with quality materials. Since we run a sawmill on site, ask about our milling services. We can process your logs from start to finish. As always, we are readily available to assist you with any questions.

Kiln Drying Costs: $1.50/bdft

Minimum: 500 bdft