View Full Version : Anyone tried drying wood in a microwave?

10-24-2011, 04:30 PM
Recently a Black Cherry tree fell over in the back yard. While cleaning it up, I decided to save the bottom 3 foot including the root knob to see if I might harvest some wood to use in building a ukulele.

Since I do not have access to a Kiln, air drying would seem to be my only recourse. However, I have heard of knifemakers drying handle scales and bowlturners doing the same to quickly move green wood items onto the production table.

I have not been able to find out anything regarding drying wood as thin as is used in Luthier work. Hoping that the small size and thinness of the pieces would make this a viable alternative.

So, has anyone got any hands on experience in this practice? Links or actual methedology would be most helpful.

Before anyone brings this up. I will be using this wood for my own personal instrument. Unless someone knows otherwise, I would guess that a rapid dry wood might not have the stability of a long term slow dried item. What can I say, I'm curious and have a bit of the "hate waiting for Xmas".

10-24-2011, 04:44 PM
You don't want to dry anything cut close to the final dimensions. You want to dry in a much thicker form and only resaw it once it is close to the dryness you want.

Microwaves don't dry at all. Some builders take and cook tops in an oven but not to dry them. They do this to already dried wood prior to putting them on the bench to work with.

Air dry it and be patient unless of course you don't care what the outcome is. While you're waiting by some cheaper cuts of wood to experiment on for your build techniques. Or see if someone in your area has a kiln to dry it for you. Either way, it is not a fast process.

10-24-2011, 04:45 PM
If you don't believe me, take a wet sock and try drying it in microwave. Let me know how that works for you.. :)

Rick Turner
10-24-2011, 05:11 PM
Try drying some wet aluminium foil in a microwave!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-24-2011, 05:51 PM
Try drying some wet aluminium foil in a microwave!

Better yet, try an egg wrapped in aluminum foil!

10-24-2011, 06:05 PM
Watch it bang around in a clothe dryer ? :p

10-24-2011, 06:28 PM
Bruce Harvie (Spruce on UU and Mandolin Cafe) suggested in another thread that you might try wrapping your billet of wood in a black plastic bag and leave it in the sun all day. At the end of the day, remove the billet from the plastic bag and turn the bag inside out. It should be covered with moisture from the wood. Be sure all the moisture is out of the bag before repeating the process the next day. Important disclaimer: I've never tried this myself.

Liam Ryan
10-24-2011, 07:57 PM
When I was in my late teens and had just moved out of home I used to dry my clean underpants in the microwave. I used to put them in for 20sec then shake the steam out then repeat until dry. One day I got distracted and left my underwear in the microwave for 2mins. When I pulled them out, one half was just ash that crumbled when I touch it. I think that was my good "going out" underwear too. I think this should be a lesson to us all.

Michael Smith
10-24-2011, 09:39 PM
I doubt microwave will work. You can cut your wood down to 1/8th inch and sticker it well for a couple of months. When ready to use iron it flat and drive out any moisture with a hand iron of the type your wife or girlfriend will bash you in the head with for using in this method.

10-25-2011, 02:22 AM
I believe it's common practice with wood carvers an turners..And this artical was about comercial Microwave drying in 2004 http://www.azom.com/news.aspx?newsID=1878

Uncle Leroy
10-25-2011, 02:41 AM
I don't really think there is a way to speed up the drying process without endangering the wood.. it sucks having to wait but it is worth it.

Ambient Doughnut
10-25-2011, 02:58 AM
In the movie 'Kick-Ass' someone gets interrogated by being shoved in an industrial microwave in a lumber mill.
It's in a movie so it *muist* be true!


10-25-2011, 03:37 AM
Watch it bang around in a clothe dryer ? :p

I almost spilled my coffee when I read this and thought about it... hahaha.

10-25-2011, 10:28 AM
I cut all my stock to slightly over an inch thick. The thinner your boards the faster it dries, but the thinner you cut your stock the more prone it is to twisting or warping in the drying process. Ultimatley that inch will give you plenty of room to resurface both sides of your boards after the drying is complete. Get a moisture meter. Sticker that wood and let air dry. The longer the better. And depending on relative humidity in your area, that is as dry as your board well get. I have wood that has been air drying for 10+ years that still reads 13 percent. So once you get it down to relative humidity or get tired of waiting, you need some other method to take it down to 7 or 8 percent.You could do this with either a dehumidifier or you could build a small solar kiln. Bottom line the slower you release the moisture out of your wood the better. Its a lot of work but the end result is pretty gratifying if you are successful. Good luck.

new wave ukulele
10-25-2011, 06:15 PM
we dried a heavily figured 6" slab of koa by sawing it into panels, placing newspaper between, sealing the whole thing up with shrink wrap, changing the paper daily. it was a laborious effort but we went from soaking wet to being able to air dry in about a month.