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Microwave Drying


Posts: 4
Topic starter
(@philw1956)
New Member
Joined: 9 months ago

I've dried a couple of rough turned bowl using a microwave. Both were trial and error. Both became an oval. No big deal because I left the rough bowl 1" thick. The second one out of American Elm I almost caught on fire from the inside out. I cooked it for 30 minutes on medium, let it cool, again for 30 minutes on medium but stopped it at about 20 when I started to smell burning wood (no fire), let it cool, then for 15 minutes on medium. I weighed it before and after each time to see when the weight stabilized. I over cooked it because it was extremely dry and burnt. I have attached a picture of that finished bowl. You can see the dark burn spot. I will be doing this again soon with shorter times. I would appreciate any tips that someone may have about time, settings, and anything else. Thanks in advance. 🙂 

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6 Replies
(@kevinbassett)
Joined: 1 year ago

Trusted Member
Posts: 51

@philw1956 - I use the micro wave to dry sometimes as well. I only go in small increments of maybe 2-3minutes at a time. Then allow some cooling time. I have not used the microwave to dry larger objects. I did burn up a little box I had made for my son. it had warped and I think giving it a little blast might loosen the stuck lid. I over did it and .... TOAST. We had a good laugh and I'll make him another box. I used the micro wave to dry some blanks for Pepper Mills. These were partially dry and I gave them a regimen of about three two minute doses and let them sit for a week, then another round of about the same regimen, once again letting them rest for a week. Then I turned the Pepper mills. So far they all have maintained their fit and proper function. I'm afraid there are few short cuts to getting wood at a stable water content. The micro wave can help but I think a little in short bursts over a period of time can accelerate the process over just air drying. I urge you to experiment some and see what results you get with your own protocol. Please share if you develop better data. By the way my Pepper mill blanks were about 2-1/2" -3" diameter and about 6-8" long rough turned to cylinders. I started with fairly green Pecan whuch was held in large chunks with painted end grain. the tree originally went over in the October 2019 Tornado, I harvested the log in November 2020 and cut up the blanks and did the microwave in April 2021 and final turning and assembly in May 2021. I let the Mills sit for about a month before delivery just to make sure of proper fit and function. They all passed I made about 10 or twelve mills in that job. Good luck and let us know what your procedure was and how did the wood respond. I think results may be quite variable depending on Species and several other factors. 

KB

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Posts: 10
(@jimlarocca)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago

Phil,

 When I've used the microwave for drying, I have always done it in small increments (30 seconds or so). You also need to let it cool between heatings. Here's a good video on the technique I've used. It takes a couple of days, but beats a few weeks in a bag with shavings or too fast and burning it in a microwave. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X5xyq2ikzY

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(@philw1956)
Joined: 9 months ago

New Member
Posts: 4

@jimlarocca

Hi Jim, this video was exactly what I was looking for. I'm ready and excited to try his methods. Thanks tons. 

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Posts: 11
(@chriscohen)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago

I put mine in for 2 minutes, let cool at least 10 min, then keep going as needed. 

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Posts: 4
Topic starter
(@philw1956)
New Member
Joined: 9 months ago

Thanks

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Posts: 4
Topic starter
(@philw1956)
New Member
Joined: 9 months ago

I want to thanks everyone for their advice. I used the method in the video to dry 2 Elm bowl blanks. They turned out really good in only a couple of days. I am finishing one now and likely the other real soon. I added a video of the one I'm working on.

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