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Author Topic: Building my first solar kiln  (Read 2918 times)

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Offline etd66ss

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Building my first solar kiln
« on: June 14, 2021, 06:29:59 AM »
Hello, brand new member.

I'm looking to build my first solar kiln so I can harvest, mill and dry non-structural lumber (decorative beams, T&G paneling and trim from Scots Pine) for my intended 2022 house build.

I have a brother who owns a circular mill (8" depth of cut) and I'd like to build the kiln without having to buy any lumber. I have about 200 utility poles from an old rail line, and intend to mill 2x8 dimensional floor joists from them (yes, I know all about the carcinogenic creosote chemicals, and we take the required precautions when milling)

I also intended to use the poles to make 1x8 (rough cut) planking for the floor, but the question came up, would the creosote flooring adversely affect the wood that I am drying? Would all the lumber smell like the treated poles? Because that would be undesirable.

My other options for the floor planking would be ash (emerald ash borer killed all of our ash trees here in the northeast, so we have this material in abundance), cottonwood poplar, or my last choice would be spruce, as I prefer to save those trees for other projects, as I only have so many nice spruce trees on site. The question is, would un-treated wood survive the proximity to the ground (no concrete pad or stone) and the humidity from the drying process? I really don't want to buy ~$600 worth of marine plywood for the floor...

I'd like to be able to dry 24ft long beams and boards, so my kiln will be 26ft long.


Offline etd66ss

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2021, 08:54:33 AM »
Here is an option for the kiln floor.

1) "Treated" 2x8's for the floor framing



 


2) "Treated" rough cut 1x8's for the sub floor planking


 


3) "Treated" dimensional cut 2x4's on the perimeter


 


4) 1.5" XPS-150 foam for floor insulation


 


5) Ash or Poplar finish floor planking


 

Thoughts?

Offline Nebraska

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2021, 09:36:26 AM »
How will you set it? Gravel/cement  footings and block... I wouldn't  go straight on the dirt soil.  I have one on my list as well my plan is to make runners out of poles and put the platform on an old grain bin slab I have and build up from there.  Your floor plan looks workable, how will you load that long? Doors etc. Mine will mirror  the VA tech plans.

Offline etd66ss

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2021, 09:52:30 AM »
My plan for setting is:

1) Drill 8 holes with my 3pt 12" post hole auger.

2) Put about 4" of dry ready-mix in the bottom of each hole.

3) Set utility poles in each hole packing around them with dry ready-mix.

4) Use water level to top the poles maybe ~6" off the ground.

5) Build my floor framing off that.

Initially I was going to design to load and unload from the ends, but then decided I want access in the back. So I'll have two hinged doors and two lift off doors on the back, each about 6.25ft wide.  I'll lift the center doors off with my TLB bucket. Not sure I can make them light enough for me to lift off by hand...

Offline Nebraska

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2021, 12:12:44 PM »
That sounds ok, not sure about the longevity of the posts set in concrete. Maybe better set on concrete  so they can breathe.
Maybe sackcrete  pads in the bottom for post to sit on, then fill coarse gravel around post. Then cut off with h20 level.

Offline etd66ss

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2021, 12:21:19 PM »
That sounds ok, not sure about the longevity of the posts set in concrete. Maybe better set on concrete  so they can breathe.
Maybe sackcrete  pads in the bottom for post to sit on, then fill coarse gravel around post. Then cut off with h20 level.
I'm also considering just using patio stones to set this thing on, because I don't really have a permanent location for it as of yet. It needs to be close to a power source as I don't want to pay what it costs to use solar powered fans, and where I am planning to put it now for ease of access to power could be an eyesore once my house is built...

Online doc henderson

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2021, 06:50:16 PM »
there have been some great builds, here, and guys that use them daily.  you might add to your profile so we know more about your location and age and such.  I assume you are not 88 y/o but I really do not know!  :)  @GeneWengert-WoodDoc was one of the original developers.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline samandothers

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2021, 07:08:07 PM »
If your poles are creosote or other treatment they will be nasty to mill and the dust is not good on your or your brothers health.  

Nebraska Happy Birthday!

Offline etd66ss

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2021, 07:47:01 PM »
If your poles are creosote or other treatment they will be nasty to mill and the dust is not good on your or your brothers health.  

Nebraska Happy Birthday!
We are aware yeah. However they are useful and we take precautions when handling.

Ok, finally got around to updating profile.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2021, 08:04:37 AM »
most of your lumber will have a vapor barrier. and many will use tar to seal it.  so the issue may be if the cut poles will retain the rot resistance.  the newer poles are better in terms of smell.  use what you got and let us know how it goes.  there have been courses on line, and lots of info here and webinars on the NHLA website (you have to register and add name with no spaces).
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline scsmith42

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2021, 09:02:33 AM »
I would not use creosote lumber inside the kiln unless you covered it with some type of vapor barrier.  For floor joists it should be ok.

You will want at least 26' inside dimensions in order to place 24' long lumber inside.  Forking lumber that long into a kiln is challenging, because any corrections made at the steering wheel are magnified at the edges of the lumber stack.

I built some 20 footers a few years back and have hinged doors on them.  I would try to avoid door panels that you have to lift off if possible, but if this is the only choice I would put a 6 footer in the middle and have 10' hinged doors on the sides.

You will need to build an extremely strong header above the doors so that it does not sag.  I built mine by embedding a truss inside of glued and screwed plywood sides.  I have not had any issues with sag thus far.



 

 
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2021, 10:39:21 AM »
You will need to build an extremely strong header above the doors so that it does not sag.

Thanks for posting, I was just working on the header in my design. Seems to have turned out similar to your pictures. I was going to do a W-Truss but the vent locations kind of messed up the load pathing.



I am thinking about double hinged doors. The inner doors are hinged to the outer doors. Open the inner doors first, they fold back and latch to the outer doors, then swing out the outer doors. Probably have guide wires with turnbuckles running to the fold back hinge location.

Right now the opening is 25ft, I don't think I want to go any wider. If I do want to load/unload with forks vs. manual, I'll just have to go with ~22.5ft boards instead of ~24.5ft.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2021, 11:23:41 AM »
might consider an overhang across the front to keep water off the doors, and can add guttering so you do not have a mud puddle in front.  you can also change the size and shape of you vents to fit the header, and could even direct them to the soffit of the overhand.  this is what I plan to do.  the soffit frame can be triangulated to add stiffness to the bottom of the header so it does not try to twist on the bottom side.  it will add some weight.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2021, 11:28:01 AM »
as an after thought, if you glue and screw plywood to the header, do you need all of the webbing with 2x?
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2021, 12:02:16 PM »
as an after thought, if you glue and screw plywood to the header, do you need all of the webbing with 2x?


There is a trade-off between weight added to the bean from the truss members and what is needed to hold itself up without deflection. It could be overkill, would have to actually do some truss calculations. I've already modified the design from what I posted above but still more thinking I need to do on it. 

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2021, 10:06:44 AM »
I'm at 43 deg LAT, should I add 7 deg and go to 50 deg or go with 45 deg?

Trying to maximize the polycarbonate roofing, don't want to have to cut any.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2021, 10:18:57 AM »
most have gone with 45į.  I assume you plan to hit it hard in the summer.  If you are planning to run year round, you could try to optimize for winter when the heat is less, but air is also dry.  I will tell what Dr. Wengert told after my 20th or so detailed question.  "It is only a solar kiln".  If you think to hard about angles, materials, cost ect., you may never build it.   :)
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2021, 10:22:48 AM »
one detail is how to finish the peak so it does not leak and does not get damaged.  if you have an abundance of glaze surface to the load, you may have to cover part if doing a slow wood like oak, and fill it full.  for beams, the large volume to surface area will slow the water loss, and may get very hot if not fully loaded.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2021, 12:42:06 PM »
It seems 55 degrees works out well for the 12ft Tuftex panels.

The glazing collection area is 266 sq-ft.

It's a bit taller than I wanted.



 

 

 

 

I have ~2000 bd-ft of 1x8x24 material shown in the kiln. It seems like from the VT design document they show a 9.5" air gap front and back, that's what I have shown in mine.

Also, why is adding images on these forums such a cluster? And how do I make them so they can be expanded to full size?

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2021, 01:43:51 PM »
sounds like it will fastened to the ground.  part of the size of the VT kiln, is so it can be picked up on forks and moved.  you could also make it wider to keep the 45į angle if needed, and it would also be less tall.  
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2021, 06:02:16 PM »
sounds like it will fastened to the ground.  part of the size of the VT kiln, is so it can be picked up on forks and moved.  you could also make it wider to keep the 45į angle if needed, and it would also be less tall.  
I do want to use it in the winter, so the 55 degrees makes sense. I will cut the 12ft polycarbonate panels if need be, but was hoping to not have to. Wish they made 10 footers.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2021, 06:16:38 PM »
i would make the depth to accommodate the panels.  and they think they a few sizes, but maybe not stocked.  8, 10, and 12 I think.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline btulloh

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2021, 07:28:36 PM »

I do want to use it in the winter, so the 55 degrees makes sense. I will cut the 12ft polycarbonate panels if need be, but was hoping to not have to. Wish they made 10 footers.
not sure which polycarb panels youíre planning to use but be sure to make a double layer with sealed air space between if you use the corrugated ones. If youíre using the twinwall youíre all set. Just be sure to seal the ends as shown in the instructions. 
Good luck with your build. Iíve really gotten a lot of good use from mine.  Itís a good tool. 
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2021, 07:54:50 PM »

I do want to use it in the winter, so the 55 degrees makes sense. I will cut the 12ft polycarbonate panels if need be, but was hoping to not have to. Wish they made 10 footers.
not sure which polycarb panels youíre planning to use but be sure to make a double layer with sealed air space between if you use the corrugated ones. If youíre using the twinwall youíre all set. Just be sure to seal the ends as shown in the instructions.
Good luck with your build. Iíve really gotten a lot of good use from mine.  Itís a good tool.
I planned to use Tuftex, like the VT document shows. However I did not intend to buy two layers. Why dual layers?

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2021, 08:06:17 PM »
Lots of heat loss through the glazing. The airspace helps a great deal. Itís highly recommended although I donít think it was mentioned in the VT document. Easier to do it initially than adding a second layer after the fact. Having the airspace for insulation will be even more important when the days get shorter and the ambient temp is lower in fall, winter, and spring. 
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #25 on: June 16, 2021, 08:22:17 PM »
Unlike other forums, forestry forum members have a gallery in which you can organize and store your pictures. This also houses the pictures permanently so that threads like this will always contain the photos used to  aid the discussion. 
I have pictures in my gallery that go back 15 years?? I have long lost access to my original photo storage and appreciate that these are here. 
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #26 on: June 16, 2021, 09:10:19 PM »
I built and operated a solar kiln for 12 years.  It did an excellent job and even had a picture in one of Dr. Gene's articles in Sawmill & Woodlot years ago.

I've also been involved with two other builds.  One guy did not use double glazing with disastrous results.  During cool and cold weather moisture would condense on the single glazing.  Than it would drip off onto the floor.  If he had not fixed it the whole floor would have rotted out.

Second thought is lumber from treated poles does not last any longer than untreated lumber.  It has the smell and color, but not enough preservative makes it through the outer few inches of the shell to do much good.  I did not use treated lumber for my floor joists and did not have any problem, but I had it elevated off the ground maybe a foot.
Larry, making useful and beautiful things out of the most environmental friendly material on the planet.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #27 on: June 17, 2021, 05:00:27 AM »
Doubling up the glazing is not going to work for me, that would be over $1000 just for the glazing. I'm trying to make this thing out of sawn lumber and very limited purchased components.


It also seems like the Tuftex would be a nightmare to double layer with the way the joints overlap and how I'd have to make double sided closure strips with a jigsaw...

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Tuftex-Wood-Solid-Roof-Panel-Closure-Strip/3012462

Is this 6mm twin layer stuff what I should use?

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Tuftex-Multi-Wall-6mm-Panel-Clear-4-ft-x-8-ft-Corrugated-Polycarbonate-Plastic-Roof-Panel/1000689436

It doesn't seem as durable as the corrugated to me, and it only comes in 8ft long sheets, which means I'd have to have a roof overlap somewhere.

Quote
Second thought is lumber from treated poles does not last any longer than untreated lumber.  It has the smell and color, but not enough preservative makes it through the outer few inches of the shell to do much good.  I did not use treated lumber for my floor joists and did not have any problem, but I had it elevated off the ground maybe a foot.

I'm using sawn creosote utility poles for the floor joists and rim boards.

EDIT: Found this place:

https://www.interstateplastics.com/Polycarbonate-Twinwall-Clear-Sheet-POLCE~~SW.php?kitoptionpk=197&src=adwordspla&thisisforcallrail=1&campaignid=225228743&adgroupid=37851262274&creative=153445283219&matchtype=&network=g&device=c&keyword=sheets-POLCESW-kits197&gclid=Cj0KCQjw5auGBhDEARIsAFyNm9Fa1Zo6h62CavAZdq8fHvPzeYlDnBP660EKndqbbi6vnU-NfIWsBa4aAjX7EALw_wcB

Anyone order from Interstate Plastics before?

Does the thickness of the twin wall matter? I imagine the farther apart the twin walls are, the higher the R-value of insulation. They have 6mm, 8mm, 10mm & 16mm, they also have triple wall, but that's $320 for one sheet...

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #28 on: June 17, 2021, 05:49:32 AM »
Well, I just built up a cart of what I would need for the glazing:



 

Might have to rethink this solar kiln build. Thought it was going to be cheaper than this...

The whole reason I wanted to build a kiln was to saw and dry ~1000 bd-ft of 1x8 Scots pine to turn into T&G for the ceiling of my house build. As well as 6x10x24ft & 6x6x12ft beams from the same wood. Maybe I'm dreaming that a kiln + me felling the trees and milling the rough boards & timbers would be cheaper. I still need them finished into T&G and re-sawn beams. Though I was thinking I can re-saw the beams and sand them.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #29 on: June 17, 2021, 06:06:47 AM »
the original design is only 14 feet long if I recall.  you can build it with the corrugated stuff, but will not be as great in the winter compared to the summer.  but I think as long as you get a differential of 20 or 30 degrees inside vs outside, it will dry faster than air drying.  the big beams may do well just to be well covered and air dry down to 12 %.  
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #30 on: June 17, 2021, 06:10:25 AM »
I might be money ahead to just air dry the beams as suggested and have the general contractor acquire the T&G for the ceiling, though I really wanted the look of Scots pine for the T&G vs the bland white pine available.

-or-

I build a 16ft Kiln and not try to kiln dry the beams.

I have to mull it over I guess...

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #31 on: June 17, 2021, 06:15:24 AM »
some will add sheet plastic as a first layer, with tuffex over the top to protect and develop an air layer to help insulate.  You are suffering the same as me.  want a cheap kiln, but also very efficient.  you will either wind up with time and or money invested.  too many short cuts, and it will not last and or will not work well.  It does not need to pretty as much as air tight, and insulated.  many have discussed adding supplemental heat, but the glazing is the weakest link.  to do that, you need a separated solar panel and container.  now you are talking more money in materials and insulation, with more complexity, fans electricity.  you can do all kinds of foamboard, air dams and valves to stop air flow and insulate at night.  so the greatest thing about this solar kiln, is keeping it simple.  "it is just a solar kiln"!   :D
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #32 on: June 17, 2021, 06:20:20 AM »
or mill the boards, air dry with fans quickly to 12%, and find a kiln to dry on down, or put in place at 12% accounting for a bit of shrinkage.  I struggled as well.  there is info on a "simple cycle solar kiln"  that is just  a stack of wood and plastic, that might work for your beams.  It also illustrates how containing a bit of heat can speed things up.
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #33 on: June 17, 2021, 06:22:30 AM »
I have dried 2 inch slabs down to 7% using something like this.  Elm out on the driveway.

Simple Solar Cycle Kilns at Timbergreen Farm (timbergreenforestry.com)

I left the bottom open to let water run out, used 16 dollar box fans in the middle of the stack and used a 14 dollar remote temp and humidity monitor.  accurite i think.  
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #34 on: June 17, 2021, 06:49:42 AM »
I just bought a 40ft container for storage when moving out of my house. For the beams, I place them in the container with a heater and dehumidifier for a couple months? This would be a one time drying event, and I'd do it in the summer/fall before it gets cold as the container is not insulated.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #35 on: June 17, 2021, 07:06:19 AM »
I put my air dried lumber in there, and have a dehumidifier in there.  after the wood is dry I only run it once a month or so.  It has been suggested that you could paint the container black at least on the top and southern exposed walls.  keep it stickered with some cheap fans running.  it is fun to see the bucket daily and how much water literally is coming out of the wood.  I keep a remote temp and humidity probe/monitor in there as well.





 

this is how I bundle logs, and sticker.  the fans go in between and all get covered with plastic, and a plywood cover.  A remote sensor can go into the stack as well.  after airdry, these get moved to the 20 foot container, with fans and a dehumidifier.
 

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #36 on: June 17, 2021, 08:18:22 AM »
Well, I just built up a cart of what I would need for the glazing:


Might have to rethink this solar kiln build. Thought it was going to be cheaper than this...

The whole reason I wanted to build a kiln was to saw and dry ~1000 bd-ft of 1x8 Scots pine to turn into T&G for the ceiling of my house build. As well as 6x10x24ft & 6x6x12ft beams from the same wood. Maybe I'm dreaming that a kiln + me felling the trees and milling the rough boards & timbers would be cheaper. I still need them finished into T&G and re-sawn beams. Though I was thinking I can re-saw the beams and sand them.
Yeah that's the stuff.  When I figured the cost and hassle of doubling the corrugated stuff I ended up with the twinwall.  At the time I was able to get from Home Depot and had it shipped to the store for free.  They don't seem to have 48" wide panels now, just 24", but Lowes has the 48".
I was trying to limit my costs for the kiln just like you and I was able to scrounge a lot of the framing and plywood, but the glazing and insulation costs were the big cost drivers.  Mine was sized to dry 12' lumber, so that's way different from your length.  I also redesigned it a bit so that I could use 8' lengths of the twinwall for my collector.  This of course cut down the collector area and the size of the load, but for me that was an acceptable tradeoff.  I ended up spending about $1600 on the build, which was pretty good and I could have knocked that down a little more if I tried.  Of course your overall length will change that equation.
The one thing I can say is that the value added by building the kiln was such that I would be happier spending more than my original investment even though I only use my lumber for myself.  Having the ability to produce KD lumber easily without any real energy costs gave me much more useful product and really changed my whole dynamic on finished lumber product.
Everyone has their own budgets and requirements to manage, so whether it's worth it for you is another question you'll have to figure out.  Maybe you can get by with a shorter (less expensive) version, or maybe not.  Or maybe it's worth it in the long/short/medium run to proceed with your current size.  Your call.  Anyway, good luck with your kiln project, and especially your ultimate projects.
HM126

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #37 on: June 17, 2021, 08:33:46 AM »
Of my 4 solar kilns, three use double pane polycarb panels designed for green houses (greenhousemegastore.com), and one uses a single pane polycarb similar to what you're looking at from the Home Supply store.

I can effectively dry for 2 -3 months more a year with the double pane kilns versus the single pane.  They have the advantage of having closed cell spray foam insulation too though.

About 10 years ago one of our FF members did an analysis of the effectiveness of drying with a double pane glass versus a single pane. It was quite informative in terms of the benefits of the better insulated panel.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=84982.msg1302695#msg1302695

I've had zero issues with moisture in mine.

Peterson 10" WPF with 65' of track
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and a mix of log handling heavy equipment.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #38 on: June 17, 2021, 08:46:12 AM »
Of my 4 solar kilns, three use double pane polycarb panels designed for green houses (greenhousemegastore.com), and one uses a single pane polycarb similar to what you're looking at from the Home Supply store.

I can effectively dry for 2 -3 months more a year with the double pane kilns versus the single pane.  They have the advantage of having closed cell spray foam insulation too though.

About 10 years ago one of our FF members did an analysis of the effectiveness of drying with a double pane glass versus a single pane. It was quite informative in terms of the benefits of the better insulated panel.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=84982.msg1302695#msg1302695

I've had zero issues with moisture in mine.
Did you use the 6mm twinwall polycarbonate or thicker?
I think I would have condensation issues being up in the northeast right near the Great Lakes.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #39 on: June 17, 2021, 08:50:06 AM »
Of my 4 solar kilns, three use double pane polycarb panels designed for green houses (greenhousemegastore.com), and one uses a single pane polycarb similar to what you're looking at from the Home Supply store.

I can effectively dry for 2 -3 months more a year with the double pane kilns versus the single pane.  They have the advantage of having closed cell spray foam insulation too though.

About 10 years ago one of our FF members did an analysis of the effectiveness of drying with a double pane glass versus a single pane. It was quite informative in terms of the benefits of the better insulated panel.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=84982.msg1302695#msg1302695

I've had zero issues with moisture in mine.
That might have been @YellowHammer that did the analysis. I know he went back and added a second layer to his first kiln. And heís in Alabama, home of copious sunshine and Auburn University.
HM126

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #40 on: June 17, 2021, 11:53:32 AM »
Here is something a bit more reasonable, 8 X 16:



 

 

 

Lot less money for the glazing, and the doors aren't crazy.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #41 on: June 17, 2021, 12:07:58 PM »
There ya go. Your second one can be the long one. I did an overhang like that on mine. With that overhang you can use a ridge cap to cover the top edge of the glazing which helps keep the length down. A little weather protection it provides on the front helps in my opinion. 
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #42 on: June 17, 2021, 12:22:41 PM »
One question I have is, my design is exactly 16ft long, framing. The glazing panels come in 4ft widths, so 4 panels will be as wide as the framing. Once the siding is added it will protrude out from the glazing on the ends. Should I use drip edge and place it under the glazing so it flares out past the siding?

Basically, should the glazing overhang on the sides?  I'd prefer to do something else there than loose collection area.

Tuftex recommends that the top of the rafters and cross braces are painted white for their corrugated panels, do the same for the extruded twinwall material?

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #43 on: June 17, 2021, 12:39:05 PM »
As long as you deal with the water somehow (like the drip edge) you should be ok. Just like any roof, details are important and thereís always more than one way to get the desired result. 

I painted all my rafters and blocking black on top and no issues. 

There is a thermal expansion factor on those twinwall panels, but they cover that in the installation docs. The joint strips allow for lateral movement and the special self-drilling fasteners  they sell cut their own clearance hole. I just followed the instructions and have no problems. 

They make a sealing strip for the bottom edge that has some drainage holes for condensation. I used aluminum tape and punched a hole every six inches. Iíd use their strips next time, because the aluminum tape doesnít hold upin the sun and weather. 
HM126

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #44 on: June 17, 2021, 03:15:17 PM »
I think the black vs white color, has to do with heat absorption (obviously).  if the tri-wall is up against a black 2 x 4 it really cannot heat the air, and will poss. heat up the plastic as the wood is slower to transmit heat.  you could use metal for the cross bracing under the glaze, or could angle the edge to support the plastic but minimize the area under the glaze contacting the brace.
your drip edge could overhang a trim piece to keep the water off the exterior walls.  sounds like you will have a nice build.  each additional upgrade makes a percent of improved efficiency.
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #45 on: June 17, 2021, 06:28:42 PM »
If you are building a really long kiln, you can stack boards for the header across the opening.  I have built headers by starting with a 2x12, then putting another 2x12 on top of the first one, then rip a piece of plywood to put in the center of the header, and then add another pair of 2x12's to the other side, using construction adhesive between the ply and the lumber, and then nail or screw the whole header together.  Used to use that type header before we could buy these laminated beams. 
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #46 on: June 17, 2021, 08:13:00 PM »
Double panels or glazing is a huge increase in efficiency.  

Donít overthink a solar kiln, itís essentially a black minivan stuck in a mall parking lot in the summer.  Itís going to get hot.  However, the hotter it gets, the more moist air you can vent so it can dry wood faster.  

Itís not going to do much of anything when there isnít any sun, so during cold dreary winters just becomes a lumber storage shed unless you put a dehumidifier inside.

Paint everything black, including the exterior, to have the entire building become a solar collector.  
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #47 on: June 17, 2021, 09:01:13 PM »
A couple of pictures of my kiln.  It opened like a clam shell.



For the second inside layer of glazing I used 6 mill plastic sheeting.  It worked just fine.  The problem was it only lasted for maybe two years than had to be replaced because it got brittle and ripped.  In the picture it looks like the plastic was near the end of its life.  I used the 6 mill because I was cheap.  As good as the thing worked, I should have used something that lasted because it was a pita to replace the plastic.
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #48 on: June 18, 2021, 08:21:08 AM »
Of my 4 solar kilns, three use double pane polycarb panels designed for green houses (greenhousemegastore.com), and one uses a single pane polycarb similar to what you're looking at from the Home Supply store.

I can effectively dry for 2 -3 months more a year with the double pane kilns versus the single pane.  They have the advantage of having closed cell spray foam insulation too though.

About 10 years ago one of our FF members did an analysis of the effectiveness of drying with a double pane glass versus a single pane. It was quite informative in terms of the benefits of the better insulated panel.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=84982.msg1302695#msg1302695

I've had zero issues with moisture in mine.
Did you use the 6mm twinwall polycarbonate or thicker?
I think I would have condensation issues being up in the northeast right near the Great Lakes.
I used 8mm. The ends of the panels are not exposed to the inside of the kiln, and have air exposure at top and bottom.
Peterson 10" WPF with 65' of track
Smith - Gallagher dedicated slabber
Tom's 3638D Baker band mill
and a mix of log handling heavy equipment.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #49 on: June 18, 2021, 08:23:22 AM »
Of my 4 solar kilns, three use double pane polycarb panels designed for green houses (greenhousemegastore.com), and one uses a single pane polycarb similar to what you're looking at from the Home Supply store.

I can effectively dry for 2 -3 months more a year with the double pane kilns versus the single pane.  They have the advantage of having closed cell spray foam insulation too though.

About 10 years ago one of our FF members did an analysis of the effectiveness of drying with a double pane glass versus a single pane. It was quite informative in terms of the benefits of the better insulated panel.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=84982.msg1302695#msg1302695

I've had zero issues with moisture in mine.
That might have been @YellowHammer that did the analysis. I know he went back and added a second layer to his first kiln. And heís in Alabama, home of copious sunshine and Auburn University.
It was a local engineer named Matt. He and Robert think along similar lines though.
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #50 on: June 18, 2021, 06:36:06 PM »
Of my 4 solar kilns, three use double pane polycarb panels designed for green houses (greenhousemegastore.com), and one uses a single pane polycarb similar to what you're looking at from the Home Supply store.

I can effectively dry for 2 -3 months more a year with the double pane kilns versus the single pane.  They have the advantage of having closed cell spray foam insulation too though.

About 10 years ago one of our FF members did an analysis of the effectiveness of drying with a double pane glass versus a single pane. It was quite informative in terms of the benefits of the better insulated panel.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=84982.msg1302695#msg1302695

I've had zero issues with moisture in mine.
Did you use the 6mm twinwall polycarbonate or thicker?
I think I would have condensation issues being up in the northeast right near the Great Lakes.
I used 8mm. The ends of the panels are not exposed to the inside of the kiln, and have air exposure at top and bottom.
So you didn't use any of the u-channel trim or aluminum tape?

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #51 on: June 18, 2021, 09:02:23 PM »
I used the twinwall panels from Menards, and bought the joining strips to put them together, then needed a bit more on the edges, so just put a joining strip on both edges.  Used their glazing fasteners along each edge, after putting some clear silicone in the strip to make things hold, and be water tight. My kiln is exactly 16' framing, plus the boxing and siding, so it turned out to be about 16'-3" total. The joining strips added enough so I had about 1" overhang.
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #52 on: June 19, 2021, 09:21:30 AM »
Of my 4 solar kilns, three use double pane polycarb panels designed for green houses (greenhousemegastore.com), and one uses a single pane polycarb similar to what you're looking at from the Home Supply store.

I can effectively dry for 2 -3 months more a year with the double pane kilns versus the single pane.  They have the advantage of having closed cell spray foam insulation too though.

About 10 years ago one of our FF members did an analysis of the effectiveness of drying with a double pane glass versus a single pane. It was quite informative in terms of the benefits of the better insulated panel.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=84982.msg1302695#msg1302695

I've had zero issues with moisture in mine.
Did you use the 6mm twinwall polycarbonate or thicker?
I think I would have condensation issues being up in the northeast right near the Great Lakes.
I used 8mm. The ends of the panels are not exposed to the inside of the kiln, and have air exposure at top and bottom.
So you didn't use any of the u-channel trim or aluminum tape?
I used u channel in-between the sheets and flashing at the top. The bottom is open.
Peterson 10" WPF with 65' of track
Smith - Gallagher dedicated slabber
Tom's 3638D Baker band mill
and a mix of log handling heavy equipment.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #53 on: June 20, 2021, 10:14:52 AM »
.  I'll lift the center doors off with my TLB bucket.
This is what we did.  We will not do our next kiln that way.  It is difficult to get centered just right and with our sandy soil it is difficult to keep it on the same plane as the opening when trying to install the center panel.  

 

Another thing we will do on our next kiln is similar to the way we did our hot box.  We cut utility poles flat on two sides at 11" and built the structure on top of them.  It is easier to hand load than the one pictured is on those occasions when we need to hand load.

Another thing we will do on the next one is hinge the doors from the corners or load from the end on a cart.  The drawback to the cart is that it would take up drying space.
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #54 on: June 21, 2021, 04:57:52 AM »
My first design was to load from the end on rails/cart. But I eventually decided doors in the back would work best for me.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #55 on: June 22, 2021, 05:32:27 AM »
For those that used the twinwall glazing with the H profiles. Are the panels exactly 48" wide, meaning center to center spacing of H-Profiles is more than 48" if you don't trim the panels on the long edge? Seems like that would be a PITA for 24" rafter spacing...


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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #56 on: June 22, 2021, 08:06:13 AM »
For those that used the twinwall glazing with the H profiles. Are the panels exactly 48" wide, meaning center to center spacing of H-Profiles is more than 48" if you don't trim the panels on the long edge? Seems like that would be a PITA for 24" rafter spacing...
I did not have any problems with installation. I think that the panels are 1/8" under to allow for the h profiles.
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and a mix of log handling heavy equipment.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #57 on: June 22, 2021, 08:49:38 AM »
the strips that i think you are calling H strips on the Menards web page, seem to have a extra space in the center.  might be able to get tech drawing to see.  but it would grow a bit, if not compensated in the panel size.  best to get the panels before the build maybe.
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #58 on: June 22, 2021, 09:18:12 AM »
There are several good documents out there (google) about installation, not all from the same manufacturer, although it's the same product no matter who made it.  I found it very useful to read their docs.  The recommended fastening pattern is much different than what I would have expected.  Plus these docs have a lot of technical info that's good to know before hand.  I'm going to try and attach one or all of them, but some are pretty big files and I think there's a size limit of attachments.

One very important thing is the recommended spacing for the blocking or horizontal support members.  They recommend 24" max, although mine is closer to 30" and no issues (with the steeper angle, it's less of a problem.  It's also important to allow room for thermal expansion in the panels.  It doesn't take a lot, but it will keep them from buckling.  This is accomplished by using their fasteners, which self-drill the correct clearance at the fastener location.  Also not trapping the edges and leaving a slight gap between the panel edge and the h-strip center strip.  It really comes down to the details in their docs.   Oddly enough, I followed their recommendations (which is against my nature  ;D ) and everything works fine.

HM126

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #59 on: June 22, 2021, 09:24:23 AM »
There are several good documents out there (google) about installation, not all from the same manufacturer, although it's the same product no matter who made it.  I found it very useful to read their docs.  The recommended fastening pattern is much different than what I would have expected.  Plus these docs have a lot of technical info that's good to know before hand.  I'm going to try and attach one or all of them, but some are pretty big files and I think there's a size limit of attachments.

One very important thing is the recommended spacing for the blocking or horizontal support members.  They recommend 24" max, although mine is closer to 30" and no issues (with the steeper angle, it's less of a problem.  It's also important to allow room for thermal expansion in the panels.  It doesn't take a lot, but it will keep them from buckling.  This is accomplished by using their fasteners, which self-drill the correct clearance at the fastener location.  Also not trapping the edges and leaving a slight gap between the panel edge and the h-strip center strip.  It really comes down to the details in their docs.   Oddly enough, I followed their recommendations (which is against my nature  ;D ) and everything works fine.
I've read all of those, but can't seem to find any technical drawings showing the actual size. To use the H-Profile extrusion, they must be something like ~47.25" wide and not actual 48".

Unfortunately the closest Menards to me is two states over, they seem to have the best selection. Lowes & "Chinesium" Depot have a scattershot selection and nothing 12ft long from what I can see. I'll be ordering my glazing online I guess.

Also, did you use the bubble washers or just rely on the gasket on the screws? I have yet to see any documentation that states the bubble washers must be used.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #60 on: June 22, 2021, 09:26:51 AM »
One more thing to keep in mind - figure out where your fan board will be located and install blocking at that location.  It's important to block the space above so the air flow doesn't short circuit.  The only path for air flow between the hot side and the cold side should be through the lumber stack.  There'll be plenty of leaks around the ends of stacks because it's hard to seal them perfectly, but the better the seal, the more efficient the air flow through the stack.  Leaks all the air to go around the stack instead of through it.

It's easy to miss this detail, and some of us (me for instance) had to block the gap above the fan board after we were essentially finished, and this was more fiddly than doing it initially.  

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #61 on: June 22, 2021, 09:30:44 AM »
I believe the dimensional detail you're looking for is one of the docs I attached.  I do believe the width is exactly 48".  It's not essential that the edges meet exactly in the middle of the rafter.  fasteners are not used there, except on the outside edges.
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #62 on: June 22, 2021, 09:44:36 AM »
I believe the dimensional detail you're looking for is one of the docs I attached.  I do believe the width is exactly 48".  It's not essential that the edges meet exactly in the middle of the rafter.  fasteners are not used there, except on the outside edges.
https://www.interstateplastics.com/Polycarbonate-Clear-Extruded-Divide-H-Channel-202-Profile-POLCEXD00315x14400.php

I guess what I am getting at is the H-Profile has a center extrusion, of unknown width because that detail drawing doesn't show the dimension. One or two rafters over and you no longer have a rafter to screw into if the panels are 48" actual...
I'm going to go to my local Lowes & Home Depot and see if I can measure what they have.  

I'll have to order all the glazing before I start framing.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #63 on: June 22, 2021, 10:00:20 AM »
Having the glazing on hand will increase the comfort level for sure. 

I have no fasteners installed at junction of the sheets and h strip per the recommended pattern, so the rafters donít have to fall exactly at the seems (although mine do). I did a lot of over-analysis before hand that proved to be unnecessary, but unavoidable in my case. My nature. I think scsmith said something about that, like donít sweat the details. For me thatís easier said than done, but next time  I build one Iíll be a bit more relaxed. Your plan to get the glazing first should improve your comfort level. I think your kiln is going to turn out fine.  
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #64 on: June 22, 2021, 11:14:41 AM »
Having the glazing on hand will increase the comfort level for sure.

I have no fasteners installed at junction of the sheets and h strip per the recommended pattern, so the rafters donít have to fall exactly at the seems (although mine do). I did a lot of over-analysis before hand that proved to be unnecessary, but unavoidable in my case. My nature. I think scsmith said something about that, like donít sweat the details. For me thatís easier said than done, but next time  I build one Iíll be a bit more relaxed. Your plan to get the glazing first should improve your comfort level. I think your kiln is going to turn out fine.  
I design everything in CAD before I cut anything, so always sweat the details. It's what I do for a living, hard to break the habit. I never start building and figure it out as I go, not in my nature.
These days, when designing mechanical systems, you can pretty much download 3D models of all the aftermarket parts used in a design (models can't always be trusted though). However, in the construction industry that's not always the case. Materials like this glazing are a crapshoot on whether or not you can actually find even 2D technical information needed to precisely model them in 3D. In some aspects, Architecture/Design seems a bit more "free" than Mechanical Engineering.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #65 on: June 22, 2021, 11:30:05 AM »
Sounds like you and I have a similar nature. CAD design pays off and makes the actual building process a lot smoother and the results more predictable. 

Selecting fans became a big process for me, converting cfm air flow to fpm based on area and such. I had to analyze the effect of static pressure on cfm ratings to make me happy with my fan choices. Others just bought cheap box fans and installed them and seemed to do ok.  I found the current crop of cheap box fans to have blade designs that caused the cfm rating to drop to almost nothing when subjected to the static pressure in the kiln application. Maybe over analysis but my measured air flow throw the stacks can achieve the recommended fpm for the various species. I guess I donít like to just wing it, but ...  we all have our comfort zone. 
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #66 on: June 22, 2021, 12:27:20 PM »
Sounds like you and I have a similar nature. CAD design pays off and makes the actual building process a lot smoother and the results more predictable.

Selecting fans became a big process for me, converting cfm air flow to fpm based on area and such. I had to analyze the effect of static pressure on cfm ratings to make me happy with my fan choices. Others just bought cheap box fans and installed them and seemed to do ok.  I found the current crop of cheap box fans to have blade designs that caused the cfm rating to drop to almost nothing when subjected to the static pressure in the kiln application. Maybe over analysis but my measured air flow throw the stacks can achieve the recommended fpm for the various species. I guess I donít like to just wing it, but ...  we all have our comfort zone.
That was going to be the next thing I looked at, the CFM requirements.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #67 on: July 03, 2021, 06:28:25 PM »
Any progress on the kiln plan?
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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #68 on: July 03, 2021, 07:06:22 PM »
Any progress on the kiln plan?
Yes, but I am spending more time outside these days than sitting in front of the PC designing. I have logged about 30 dead standing and fallen Norway Spruce. Bartering with my brother who has a circular mill, trading wood for his deck for his time to mill up what I need for the kiln.
Just finished the logging today actually, so hope to get everything sawn by the end of the month. Once I know what lumber I have I can tweak my design to suit.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #69 on: September 05, 2021, 06:49:04 PM »
I started milling up the creosote poles for the kiln deck & subfloor.



 


 

Logged the last of the spruce I need to mill the lumber for the rest of the Kiln.



 

Hope to start building soon.  Leaning towards a 24ft long kiln so I can dry the 22ft long decorative Scotts Pine beams for my house.


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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #70 on: September 18, 2021, 07:56:45 PM »
Finished the deck framing today. Took longer than I thought to get it all level & square.



 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

And yes, I know the ground slope will make it difficult to load/unload with forks, but this is just a temporary location near my electrical service for drying lumber/beams for my house. I'll load/unload by hand for now.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #71 on: October 03, 2021, 06:07:26 AM »
Some more progress pictures. Progress is slow as I have to wait for the lumber I need to come off the mill, and that only happens when my brother has time to mill stuff...



 

 

 

 

 

 

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #72 on: October 03, 2021, 06:36:08 PM »
We are currently building a solar Kiln based off the Virginia Tech First Gen with a few twists of our own for moisture monitoring and fan control. Also doubled up the floor joists. 2x8 construction for the floor. We plan on building a bigger one next but using this as a test. 

 

 

 

 

 

      
Homemade 5í wide sawmill building.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #73 on: October 04, 2021, 01:45:22 AM »
what was the overall dimension and why did you double up the floor joists?  looks great.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #74 on: October 04, 2021, 11:02:28 PM »
Agree with Doc. That looks good ... makes me want  one for my own.

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #75 on: October 08, 2021, 07:39:34 PM »
I finally finished the deck, can start framing soon. Having to rip all my lumber on a contractors table saw to get it straight enough to use...



 


 


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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #76 on: October 10, 2021, 04:30:56 PM »
Started on the framing. Sure looks bigger in person than it did on my computer screen...



 


 


 


 


 


 


 

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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #77 on: October 19, 2021, 04:31:20 PM »
A bit more progress, was fighting some gloomy weather until today.



 


 


 


 


 


 


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Re: Building my first solar kiln
« Reply #78 on: Yesterday at 09:45:33 AM »
Looks good.


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