Salvaging Nature: Drying Green Wood at Home

That backbone of Real Good Goods is to reduce and repurpose waste. Since humans produce a lot of waste, especially in densely populated areas like New York City, there's is hardly ever a shortage of opportunities to be creative. After the holiday and stormy weather however, we found new opportunities.

When working with live or green wood, it's necessary to let the wood dry before building anything with it. Green wood contains more moisture than seasoned wood, which has been dried through passage of time or by forced drying in kilns. It's considered to have 100% moisture content relative to air-dried or seasoned wood which is considered to have 20%. Though green lumber is more commonly used in arid regions of the United States, such as Arizona and parts of California, because the wood will dry more quickly. Damper regions often require kiln-dried wood, which must have a moisture content of 19% or less. Depending on thickness, it can take a considerable amount of time before it reaches that recommend moisture content when you don't have a kiln available. 

 
 

These Sycamore branch have been stored and air-drying for two years. Smaller pieces can be cut and dried in a household oven.

Drying wood in your home oven

  1. Set your oven racks so one is in the bottom and another is in the center. Place a large sheet pan on the bottom oven rack or line it with foil.

  2. Set the oven as close to 218° F as possible.

  3. If available, turn on the convection fan. Check the oven thermometer after 15 minutes have passed. Adjust the oven settings until the internal temperature reading is between 210° and 225° F.

  4. Place your wood on the center rack without letting them touch. Set smaller wood pieces perpendicular to the wires of the oven rack so they do not fall through. Dry the wood for 1 hour.
     
  5. While wearing heat-resistant gloves, remove a 2-3 pieces a varying sizes. Press the two metal contact points of the moisture meter to the surface of the wood to test. Return the wood to the oven if the desired moisture-level has not been reached.
     
  6. Test again every 15 minutes until moisture content reads 20% or less. Remove wood and place on a wire cooling rack in a dry place.