Drying wood in a microwave
I was given several hundred BF of oak that was cut at least 5 years ago and air dried. The problem is that it still feels wet. I know "get a moisture meter" which I will should I ever decide to use it on a major project. For now though I have sliced some 1/4" x 4" boards that I want to make small boxes out of. Does anyone have any suggestions on making sure the wood is dry by putting it in a microwave for a few seconds? Since the pieces will only be about 5" long and 1/4 thick it seems like it would be feasible.
Might work. But, a few minutes in a low heat (250°) oven would be safer. Trapped moisture in a microwave could be disastrous.
and BE VERY CAREFUL...
you can start the wood on fire internally..
Set the microwave on its lowest setting. On most microwaves, this is "defrost" or lower. Whatever your microwave's settings, choose one that runs on roughly 200 to 360 watts.
Place the wood on the outer edge of the carousel plate so that it rotates around the cavity of the microwave. Place two to three paper towels underneath the wood to absorb the moisture the wood gives off as it dries. You may place more than one piece of wood in the microwave at a time as long as they fit on the outer edge of the carousel and none of the pieces touch each other (touching pieces may ignite).
Microwave the wood for 1 ~ 1½ minutes. (way less for thinner wood) Never leave the wood unattended while it is drying. If you notice smoke, stop the microwave immediately as you may have an internal fire...
Remove the wood from the microwave with oven mitts or heavy work gloves. Place the wood on the counter to release the steam.
Lift the wood off of the counter after 30 seconds to check the amount of condensation underneath the wood. Then allow it to cool to room temperature and to release the moisture removed by the microwave.
Repeat until little the wood produces little condensation while it cools down to room temperature. Do not try to nuke away all of the condensation. If the wood is too dry, it may smolder or ignite internally....
but over ''drying'' will case harden the wood...
I have a friend who has used a microwave for many years without problems but a moisture meter is essential and so cheap these days.
The US price is much lower.
Harbor Freight has cheap moisture meters
Had a fellow who came into the cabinet and lighting gallery where I worked. His wife was out of town. He took a pan off the stove and, not thinking, put it on the Corian countertop. Melted a nice circle about 8 inches in diameter. Owner had to contact someone to repair it.
Art, Chances are the wood is dry enough after 5 years. Acclimate for a week or two, then use it. Or make sure with a moisture meter. A moisture meter will give you a reading on that side of the lumber (not the entire thickness). Once the lumber is shaved to thickness...it will release tension if it has a lot of moisture. I say see what happens.
I have never wanted, needed, or tried, to dry wood in a microwave. But when I first heard about that, I did a lot of reading on it. Forgot 99% of what I found out, but do recall that some of the wood was put in a paper bag with sawdust in it, then covered with sawdust, and dried in the microwave, don't recall any details. Seems to me that was used for green wood. What I do know is, if I wanted to dry wood with a microwave, I'd do a lot of reading of material posted by people who had actually done it. You'll also read about the mistakes many made learning how to do it.
However, it is most likely the wood is totally, ruined if it feels damp after 5 years, and utterly worthless to use. Your best bet is to forward it to me, for appropriate sacrifice to the Woodworking Gods - I am a High Priest, and will take care of all details. There is a time window on proper sacrifices, so send it quickly.
Kiddies, do not try this at home.
I’ve seen a wood technologist check samples for moisture content by microwaving for 20 seconds at a time I think and then weighing it. When it stops loosing weight it’s dry.
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