Drying Wood Quickly

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Leon Van Bommel
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:39 pm

Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Leon Van Bommel »

Ok here's the story. I'm in college for machining. My teacher told us we could make what ever we want for a final project. I have full access to CNC machines and decided to finally make a guitar. I've tried a few times in my life but didn't have the tools or money to get er done right. I plan to make a solid body aluminum guitar out of 6061. The thing is once i write the program i can make as many copies as i would like. I would like to make a few wooden versions with aluminum and wooden necks. My dad also has access to an ash grove near home and we have a bandsaw mill. My question to you all is, is there any way I can cut fresh ash, and have it milled and dry enough to be used by mid April? My father seems convinced that it can be dried in a month or so, and i'm sure it can be for any purposes he would use it for. But would a solid body guitar hold up with wood treated this way? There is a hardwood flooring place up the road who I may be able to convince to loan a spot in their kiln. If not it'll be dried in a hot room in the shop with fans because we're in Nova Scotia and its Winter.

I'm gonna try to attach my CAD drawing for eye candy cuz we all like that!

Tim Douglass
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:32 pm

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Tim Douglass »

Absent a kiln I'd really doubt it would be dry enough to be stable (which is really the issue) by April. I would try for a spot in the kiln or else look for wood that is already dry.

Oh, and that's a pretty cool design, too!

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Jim McConkey
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Location: Way north of Baltimore, MD

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Jim McConkey »

If you just want proof of concept, get two cheap 2x8s, join them, together and mill that. Or ask the hardwood laminate place for scraps and laminate those into a block that is big enough. Unless you can use their kiln, April is too soon for such a thick board.
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Charlie Schultz
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Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Charlie Schultz »

Wood turners often soak green (wood) bowls in DNA (denatured alcohol) to make them dry faster (the theory is that the alcohol displaces the water and then evaporates faster when exposed to air). I've never tried it but there are lots of reports on the web. So you could rough cut the ash (allowing for warping) and give that a go.

Leon Van Bommel
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:39 pm

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Leon Van Bommel »

Wow! thanks for the speedy response. I do have to do a dry run on the mill just to make sure my code is correct and tools cut where they're supposed to with out breaking stuff, for that I'll use wax. my issue is it'll take a lot of work getting the machine running so I'd like to make a few copies once it's done. Kiln dried wood is fine? i just don't want them to get splitting or shrinking issues later on. what is a good target for humidity?

My plan is to saw the ash thick in 8 foot lengths to allow me to cut of the splits and plane it to a bit over 1 3/4"

Jason Rodgers
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:05 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Cut the ash, make a stash (this won't be the first and last guitar you'll want to build). Buy a couple solidbody blanks from our sponsoring lutherie suppliers, or run to a hardwood supplier and buy dried 8/4 stock and dimension your own. If you're going to be buying aluminum, the wood will be cheap.

Funky design, BTW. Very sci-fi.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Dana Emery
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:11 pm
Location: Newcastle, PA

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Dana Emery »

Stable wood which has been 'excercised' thru numerous humidity and temperature cycles is prefered for building instruments of quality. Subtle changes occur in the cell structure over time, and stresses within the wood settle down. The movement of moisture in the wood itself takes some time and induces stress, if rushed the stress can be destructuve.

You can build with kiln dried, but airdried is prefered. CNC cut parts are overkill at this time, cut oversize for storage, recut and build in a couple of years to take advantage of the wood would be my plan.

Michael Turner
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Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:55 am

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Michael Turner »

I can assure you the ash will not be close by April. Well, actually it will, but it will be April of 2016 at the earliest if you air dry and the wood is 5/4. If it is 8/4 it is going to take longer than that unless you dry kiln and then you have the issue of stability and checking unless the kiln operator really knows what he is doing.


oops, did not see where you were from....be careful force drying the ash too quickly because I had about 1000 bd ft dried in a pine kiln....it dried so fast, that it case hardened the wood and we had to drill holes just to shoot brads for building a set of cabinets!

Clay Schaeffer
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

For a solid body guitar kiln dried wood should work fine. Most lumber mills allow the wood to air dry for a couple months before they put it in the kiln, so you may still not have enough time to dry the wood properly before April.

Steve Graves
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Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:05 pm

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Steve Graves »

I've worked alot of green wood for Windsor chairs etc. I've also used PEG for wood turnings. DA, I have no experience with but the flash point makes it very dangerous to use. Even the green wood that I use for chairs is not as green as what you have, it has air dried for at least 6 months in the round or 1 yr per inch in the board. Ash shrinks and warps until about 14% mc. Don't mess with Mother Nature.

Art Davila
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Location: Chicago, Il U.S.A.

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Art Davila »

I was wondering the same thing a few years back on a furnature project, but nobody wanted to rush the kilm. They reasoned that, since more than my very small order would be in the kilm, they did not want to risk damaging the whole batch just so I could get the wood I wanted.
One person did suggest that I could try drying the small batch I wanted in the oven set at approximately 120 degress f, but he had now idea how long it would take and I would have to just keep checking with a mosture meter. My wife said no way was I putting wood in her oven so never tried it.
I have a lot of experience on how "not" to do things.

Michael Lewis
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Location: Northern California USA

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Michael Lewis »

If in a hurry to get stable wood you can use high quality laminated 'plywod' like the Baltic birch material used in cabinet shops. It is readily available and very stable and stout. Also it comes in various thicknesses, so the structure can be planned to be strong where it needs strength and light (hollow) where it doesn't need great strength.

Nicholas Blanton
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:52 am
Location: Shepherdstown, WV, USA

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Nicholas Blanton »

Microwaving green wood works pretty well. Turners use it all the time- for boxwood, it's maybe the best method. But here, you'd have to be building a ukulele.

Those are big pieces of aluminum, and you'll have a really stiff guitar. There are some design programs ( like Solid Works) that will tell you how much it will weigh, when you're done. Does the CAD drafting program you're using do that as well, or are you going to dunk a wood prototype in water, to find the volume??

Louie Atienza
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:35 pm

Re: Drying Wood Quickly

Post by Louie Atienza »

It looks like you're going to shell out the body itself to shed weight or possibly add tone chambers? If so, you might want to consider either making an inner frame of aluminum and making a top and back out of wood, or make the frame of wood and use aluminum plate for the top and back. Fender Custom Shop made a superstrat with an aluminum frame, anodized, with polycarbonte top and back and it looks really wild.

I use OneCNC for my CAM, and there's a guy in the OneCNC forum making shelled aluminum guitar bodies.

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