Building a Kiln

As a woodworker in a basement shop I always prefer working with 8 foot boards and sometimes 10 foot boards, but anything longer is difficult to handle in such a small space. I keep this length limitation in mind when bucking and milling logs. Ultimately this directly impacted my choice of kiln size.

The construction of my solar kiln began with plans from Virginia Tech for their 750 to 1000 bd-ft kiln (see "Solar Kiln Plans"). The original plans call for an overall length of just over 13 feet to facilitate drying 12 foot boards. I resized the kiln to an overall length of 12 feet to allow drying of 10 foot boards. This also made interior and exterior sheathing a little less wasteful. Resizing the kiln results in a capacity of about 500 bd-ft for 8 foot boards and 650 bd-ft for 10 foot boards.

Solar collectors of any kind are generally tilted at an angle equivalent to your latitude plus 10 degrees if you want to maximize solar capture in the winter. This kiln resides in Lynchburg, Virginia with a Latitude of about 37 degrees which is pretty much the same as Blacksburg, Virginia where the Virginia Tech kiln is located. Adding 10 degrees puts at 47 degrees, but who wants to make those cuts? To make life simple, the kiln roof is tilted to 45 degrees.

This kiln is, for the most part, the Virginia Tech solar kiln with a few very minor modifications. Construction required about a year of my spare time, but that included six months or more when no work was done at all. Realistically, this kiln could probably be built in a few weeks of full time labor. I constructed the entire kiln by myself, so if you have more time than resources, it can be done as a one man job.

Whenever I looked online at kilns others had built, I always came away wanting more details and more pictures. With that in mind, every attempt was made to take plenty pictures during the construction process. Take a look through the pictures and discussion in each section of the construction process. Hopefully, these pictures, combined with the Virginia Tech plans will make your kiln construction, an easy project.

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