Maybe you need to dry wet lumber for woodworking, or you are trying to dry your sola wood flowers for crafting or decorative use – putting the pieces of wood can always be at the back of your mind.
If you are wondering whether you can put them in your kitchen oven, you are not alone.
In short terms, yes you can put wood in the oven. But if they are only some small damp pieces of unfinished wood or moistened wood slices.
You should NEVER put any finished piece of antique wood in an oven for drying because the heat will most likely warp, burn or damage the finishing.
Also, if your finished timber or a piece of plywood is glued with an adhesive, it can get splits along the glue lines if heated in the oven.
In this article we will cover:
- Why You May Need to Dry Wood in the Oven?
- How To Dry Your Wood in Oven?
- Safety Precautions to Take When Drying Wood in Oven
- Few Other Methods to Dry Wood Cookies without Cracking
Why You May Need to Dry Wood in the Oven?
If you have painted a piece of wood outdoors that needs to be dried and cured, it can take a couple of weeks or even months depending on the type of wood.
But putting the same wood piece in your kitchen oven can speed up the drying process to few hours.
Few other advantages of drying wood in your kitchen oven are:
- The wood dries quickly
- It dries evenly and also from the edges
- Prepares the firewood for stove burner fast and easy
- Helps in killing the molds, and bugs that thrives on wood
- Prevents the wood from rotting & swelling due to extra moisture
- Helps in drying the wood cookies from your Christmas Tree for preserving
- Reduces the risk of getting defects due to other uneven wood drying methods
For me, it’s mostly drying and preparing the wood for winters as I love to keep my home warm all the time.
Dried wood will burn for a much longer time (and with lesser smoke) than dampened wood.
It’s not only about the smoke and time, but the dried wood pieces will produce much intensive heat that can again keep the rooms warm for long.
How To Dry Your Wood in Oven?
Keep in mind that while it’s completely OK to dry the pieces of moist wood in your common kitchen oven, putting the wood that is already dried in an oven can scorch and burn it hard.
So, when you are trying to dry out your moistened timber, follow these steps carefully…
Step 1-Prepare your oven
Start by preparing the oven racks so that it fits your wood piece.
Your goal should be to keep enough space/air around the wood piece to move.
After setting the racks, switch the oven on for preheating.
Keep the temperature 200 to 220 degrees F (or 94° to 104°C)
If your oven comes with a convection fan, switch that on too.
After about 10-15 minutes check the temperature.
Step 2-Put the wood inside
Place the pieces of wood (like dampish or wettish wooden toys) on the rack in such a way that no two pieces are touching each other.
Also, while keeping ensure that no pieces of wood should fall through the rack spaces.
Just in case you are drying large-sized firewood in the oven for burning purposes, you should first cut the wood into smaller sizes using a firewood splitter.
Step 3- Allow the wood to dry
Now when you have placed the wood pieces securely into the oven, let them dry for about 50 to 60 minutes.
Depending on how wet or moistened the wood is, it can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes for drying.
Larger pieces of wood can take more time to dry than smaller pieces in a microwave.
So, make sure that you keep checking the wood in every 10 minutes intervals.
Step 4- Check the wood for moisture
You can tell if your wood is dried by inspecting the wood for color and weight change.
The dried wood should become lighter in color and lesser in weight (due to removed moisture/water).
If you have a special moisture meter for wood available, make use of it to accurately check the wood for dryness.
If your wood still shows some signs of moisture, put it back in the oven for some more time and repeat the drying process.
Step 5- Allow the wood to cool and get dried
After you have baked the wood and are satisfied with its moisture content, remove the pieces from the oven using oven mitts.
Place them securely in a dry space to cool down – making sure that there are no chances of hot wood to catch the fire.
After the wood slices have completely cooled down, you can again check for the moisture content to repeat the process if required.
Make sure that you do not bake or dry wood slices too much in the gas oven or else it will show signs of cracking or contraction.
Safety Precautions to Take When Drying Wood in Oven
Using your normal kitchen oven for drying firewood needs proper care and attention.
Because the process will require working with heat and wood, if you are not careful wood can burn inside the oven.
So, just do not leave the wood in the oven without you monitoring the wood all the time until it dries and is removed from the oven.
Few other safety precautions you should keep in mind are:
- Test the wood drying process with a few sample pieces first
- Always use oven mittens when removing the wood from the oven to prevent accidental burning
- If you notice any smoke during the task, switch off your oven immediately to check what and why it has exactly happened
- If there are any flames emitted immediately use a fire extinguisher before it gets serious and out of control
Above all, if you need to heat or dry a very large quantity of wood for firewood, carpentry tasks, or wood carving, seeking out the help of an industrial kiln is a better option.
After getting baked and dried, make sure you store the wood right for use in the future.
If not stored well, it may again attract more moisture.
Few Other Methods to Dry Wood Cookies without Cracking
Wood slices, also known as (wood discs, wood cookies, or tree cookies), are used widely for a variety of different projects.
For many, it’s a tradition to save a “wood slice” from their Christmas Tree, for commemorating the festival day of the year in the form of decoration or craft project.
And for others, it’s only an ordinary piece of wood that can be used for home decor items, wood-burning crafts, and holiday decorations.
The only problem faced is in drying these slices without getting them cracked – because as the moisture gets evaporated from the wood (kept in the oven) it can shrink, split, crack, or warp.
If you need to successfully dry the wood discs and avoid the cracks from forming, you can do so by using a salt paste or by treating the wood cookie with a sealant and stabilizing solution.
Below is a step-by-step process for using both these methods.
Using Salt for Drying Wood Cookies
Salt is known to be a natural drying agent that can speed up the process to remove moisture from the wood.
And the good thing is it does it without getting any wood shrinkages.
All you need is to follow these 10 easy steps to form a salt paste and use for wood drying:
- In a clean bucket fill a gallon of fresh water
- Slowly add about 2 pounds (or 1 kg) of table salt into it
- Stir the mixture well to get a uniform solution without any salt crystals
- After you have prepared the solution, let it sit for about 3-4 hours.
- Then add a cup of corn starch and mix well to form a thick paste, if required you can add more water
- Next you will need to add 2 egg whites to this mixture, mix it well into the paste
- Now brush this paste (using a paintbrush) to evenly spread onto the wood slice in the form of thin layer
- Brush the other side of the slice as well and allow the wood to soak the paste for some time
- Finally, keep the wood slice (covered with salt paste) in an open warm location to let the wood dry
- As the salt paste will absorb the moisture out of wood, it makes the wood dry slowly without forming any cracks
Depending on how much moisture is present in the wood cookies and how thick are they, it may take around 7 to 30 days to get the wood completely dried and use for crafting.
Once the slice gets dried you may notice the faded color in the center of the wood.
Using a Sealant or a Stabilizing Solution
Depending on how fresh and air-dried your wood slice is, there are different solutions you can use for this drying method.
- Use denatured alcohol or wood alcohol for soaking the wood slices that are less than an inch thick
- Use Pentacryl wood stabilizer for soaking the wood if your wood slice is still fresh and hasn’t dried much
- Use wood sealers (such as wood juice or Anchorseal) for soaking the wood if it’s already dried for few days after it was cut
In a pinch, you can also use linseed or teak oil to soak wood if you do not have the above sealants available.
After you have picked the right solution for soaking wood, follow these steps:
- In a stainless steel, fiberglass, or plastic container (do not use other metals) place couple of wood slices at the bottom
- Wear the rubber gloves for protecting your hands and then fill the container halfway with the preferred solution
- Cover this container with a plastic wrap and let the solution soak into the wood to work for around 24 hours
- Do not disturb or uncover the container in between as it can evaporate the solution or affect the penetration into the wood
- After a day remove the soaked wood slices from the container and allow it to dry
Wood warping and cracking can occur if there is moisture present in different parts of the wood and you use the incorrect method to dry it.
While you can use your kitchen oven for drying pieces/slices of wood evenly, this isn’t the only recommended method.
Particularly if you are concerned about the antique wood piece you have and do not want to take the risks of getting the cracks or splits, you may better skip the oven-baking and try other methods I have mentioned above.
Hi, I am Mark Garner a professional carpenter, woodworker, and DIY painter. I live in the small city of Peoria, Arizona as a semi-retired woodworker. I have started this blog with a simple motive to help you with my wood experience in this sector. If you like to know more about what I love doing and how it all got started, you can check more about me here.