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Buck Hedges

Drying Wood in a Microwave

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So I had this great idea:

 

I'd soak some pine cones ("cone pines," my youngest calls them) in diesel and use them to start fires in the forge. For years growing up, we made "Go Juice,"--a combination of diesel and sawdust--to start fires in our wood stoves, so I thought this would work.

 

My boys and I gathered a handful of "cone pines," and they seemed a little damp, so I put them in the microwave for about five minutes to warm up and dry out.

 

It worked! They dried out, warmed up, and then burst into flame. Now I'm out a microwave. :(

 

So if you try something stupid like this, watch your wood closely. And five minutes is waaaaaaay too long.

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s12137.gif

 

I once had someone tell me you could re-heat a boiled egg if you crack the shell, well lets just say in that case 30sec. is tooooo much! OMG I had no idea one egg could become so many pieces or be so hard to clean up!!!!!!!!!!!!! My wife laughs every time I tell this story, so if that tells you anything about the culprit who told me this, was....................!

Edited by C Craft

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Pml! Microwaves are not my favorite things, but once it came in useful at my restaurant, an obnoxous woman who orderd a steak medium rare, complained about it (loudly) not being 'cooked' well 3 minutes in an industrial 3 magnatron convection/microwave 'cooked' it to a point of needing a hammer and chisel to cut it! (Never saw her again, dunno why...)

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I keep hearing about all the unconventional things you can do with a microwave and I'm seriously considering getting one from a thrift store for my shop. Things from pottery firing, casting and wood drying. I know that folks DO seriously use microwaves for drying wood.. but not sure what the boundaries are. You found one it seems. Although.. 'cone pines' are probably pretty high in flammable resin.. which is why that happened I guess.

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For drying wood I would imagine you should use a lower power setting. Sure you want to speed up the process (hence the microwave), but you don't want to go TOO fast.

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I once read some stuff online where a bowyer had cut holes through a microwave big enough to pass a bow stave through. He was using it to do heat bending & straightening.

 

He would pack some kind of insulation around the holes, but that one was a little past my limit on the crazy scale.

 

 

By the way Buck, that pine cone story was the funniest thing I've heard all day. Sorry 'bout your microwave.

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Well, my father-in-law dropped by an installed the new microwave today. It's one of those "over the stove" models. Glad he did. I haven't been able to cook for a week.

 

Now, I admit, it's rather humiliating to have someone fix something for you, but the reason I have a forge is I tend to fix a lot of problems with a hammer...and if that doesn't work, a bigger hammer. So I let him get a laugh out of it.

 

Here's some pictures of the old one. Enjoy. My wife did. She wasn't even upset. Which also totally mystifies me.

 

Micro-1.jpg

 

Micro-3.jpg

 

Micro-2.jpg

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Cool! Don't turf out the ond one, use the case as a wood drying oven, add some racks and ditch all electric parts but not the light, move it inside as the 'heat source' a piece of ply will fix the door, cut your wood to just bigger than needed, mark and weigh one piece, stick them in and turn the light on, re-weigh the piece after a few days, when it stops losing weight, it's good to go...

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Would have repurposed it, but when I was finished, not even the light would turn on. I'm nothing if not thorough! :)

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I dry wood in mine from time to time, but you have to go real slow and not get it too hot, just a little warm on lower pwr. settings. Always try scrap pieces first so as not to wreck good stuff. Generally woods that check and split badly drying normally will also do so micro drying. Softer open pored woods like maple, hickory, etc are pretty tolerant. I make my own hammer handles from oak, or hickory used and broken axe, shovel,etc. handles if they are big enough to repurpose. When handling a hammer I dry the handle completely in the micro before wedging it on so that it is as dry as it will ever get, then it can only swell tighter out in the shop. No loose handles. If it is too hot to touch to your cheek, it's too hot for wood. Look up woodturners sites and check microwave drying of wood. They turn bowls green then micro dry them and finish turning.

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Almost forgot!!! If you repurpose a microwave oven. Read up on the internal parts, as there is a High Voltage Capacitor in there that holds a charge that can KILL YOU if you touch the wrong parts. It must be shorted out (while unplugged) to remove the charge. You must do this properly or you get fried, NOT GOOD! Do not operate a micro wave with the cabinet off, (you get Microwaved) the cabinet is the shielding. The story about the bowyer cutting holes in and out the sides of his micro was setting himself up for some brain cooking as well unless he was outside the building when operating it, (take the shop cat out too) Making tools at home is satisfying and saves money unless it makes you sick or kills you.

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Yup, low and slow to dry wood in a microwave. An intermitant defrost cycle seems to work, but an hour or 2 in the convection oven (edit:regular oven with a fan, not microwave/convection) at 200F works even better.

 

Oh and by the way, when I was growing up we used pine cones that hadn't opened yet to play pranks on campouts. Toss a few in the campfire when no one else is looking, a few minutes later it turns into a war zone as they start exloding... Deffinitely not something I would want to see in a microwave.

Open cones make great firestarters though, even when a bit wet apparently. :rolleyes:

James

Edited by James Spurgeon

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Almost forgot!!! If you repurpose a microwave oven. Read up on the internal parts, as there is a High Voltage Capacitor in there that holds a charge that can KILL YOU if you touch the wrong parts. It must be shorted out (while unplugged) to remove the charge. You must do this properly or you get fried, NOT GOOD! Do not operate a micro wave with the cabinet off, (you get Microwaved) the cabinet is the shielding. The story about the bowyer cutting holes in and out the sides of his micro was setting himself up for some brain cooking as well unless he was outside the building when operating it, (take the shop cat out too) Making tools at home is satisfying and saves money unless it makes you sick or kills you.

 

Old CRT monitors can do the same thing. I used to work at a comptuer store and the monitors we tossed we'd bust the screens with a hammer first, because we had dumpster divers, and apparently they can hold a charge for months. The owner didn't want the liability.

 

I just tossed it. The next cones I get I'll dry the old fashioned way: On the bricks near the edge of my forge!

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:lol: Next time use an electric oven at 170 F. Worked very nicely for some maple curl and burl.

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