Wood slices serve several purposes, from woodwork projects to firewood for cooking. However, due to the hygroscopic nature of wood, it requires drying.

But how can this be done? Here’s how to dry wood slices.

Why Do Wood Slices Require Drying?

You might wonder why you need to dry wood, especially because it appears dry. Well, wood can be called a “moisture sponge” as wood soaks moisture from its environment, increasing its size.

So, drying or seasoning wood helps to get all this moisture out, so the wood shrinks into the perfect size for use. This is why it is not advised to store wood in damp places.

Also, it helps improve the wood’s quality and resilience to harsh conditions, making them have longer durability. If you want your woodwork project to turn out well, dry your wood slices.

How to Dry Wood Slices – 3 Methods

You can dry wood slices by soaking them in alcohol, using a kiln to dry them, or air drying.

Any drying method can be employed depending on how fast you want them to dry, what you have available for drying, and the specific requirements you want the wood slices to meet.

Drying wood is not as tedious as you think. The drying process is easy as long as you are not in a hurry to use them. Some of these ways are explained below in detail.

1. Using Chemicals

You can use chemicals such as salt paste and alcohol to dry wood.

Using Denatured Alcohol

This requires soaking the slices of wood in wood alcohol.

 Tools and materials

  • A container
  • Rubber gloves
  • Wood slats 
  • A bottle of denatured alcohol
  • A piece of rock
  • Plastic wrap

How to do this

Step 1: Get a large clean container made of plastic, fiberglass, or stainless steel. Do not use a metal container.

Step 2: Place some slats or small stones to layer the bottom of the container so the slices do not sit directly on the base of the container.

Step 3: Put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands as you pour denatured alcohol into the container filling it halfway to its entire volume.  Be careful not to inhale fumes while pouring.

Step 4: Arrange the slices in the container. Then put a piece of stone or rock on the slice.

Step 5: Use plastic wrap to cover the container, so the solution does not evaporate.

Step 6: Leave for at least 24 hours without touching any of the slices.

Step 7: Remove the wood from the solution and allow it to dry in a dry area for a week.

Using Salt Paste 

Salt is naturally a drying agent, and when applied to wood, it effectively removes moisture from the wood.

Tools needed

  • Table salt
  • Water
  • Cornstarch
  • Egg whites
  • A paintbrush

How to do this

Step 1: Mix about 1.4kg of table salt in a bowl with a gallon of water. Then use a stick to stir till they form a solution, then leave for about 3-4 hours.

Step 2: Add a cup of cornstarch and thoroughly mix till it forms a thick paste.

Step 3: Pour egg whites into the paste as they help to prevent flaking.

Step 4: Then dip a clean paintbrush in the salt paste and apply it evenly all over the surface of the wood slices as if you were painting.

Step 5: Place wood in a warm area with good ventilation to dry for about a week. However, thicker slices could take more weeks.

Pros

  • You can apply substances that will prevent cracking as they dry.
  • It is very effective when the wood slices are thin or in small pieces.
  • It is effective when working with wet wood.

Cons

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes.
  • You cannot prevent overdrying.
  • You still have to airdry even after applying them.
  • If the wood slices are not fully covered in the chemicals, they might not get completely dry.

2. Using a Microwave or Oven

You can also make use of heat directly. The source of this heat could either be a microwave or oven.

Tools and materials:

  • A traditional kitchen oven or Microwave
  • Wire cooling racks
  • Moisture meter/ Weighing scale
  • Fire extinguisher

How to do this

Step 1: Prepare your oven or microwave for drying by rearranging your oven racks and preheating.

Step 2: Arrange the wood slices on the bottom rack in the oven or microwave: Firstly, check the amount of moisture in the wood, then spread the wood out on the center rack.

Step 3: Set the oven temperature to a proper level and dry the wood for about an hour. It is advised to have your fire extinguisher nearby.

Step 4: Inspect the wood after an hour, and check the moisture level again using a moisture meter or weighing the wood to know if there is a difference. Then cool the wood on a wire cooling rack. Here’s more on drying wood in an oven.

Pros

  • It is very fast as it takes just hours.
  • It prevents mold formation and destroys wood pests.
  • It prevents warping that results from drying.

Cons

  • You need to weigh the wood or use a moisture meter to know when to stop baking.
  • The heat might dry other things in the wood asides from moisture.
  • You might miscalculate while baking which might make it hard to prevent overdrying.

3. Air Drying

This method is also known as stacking wood, the most commonly used way of drying wood.

All you need are:

  • A well-ventilated space that can contain the wood pieces
  • Spacers
  • A fan

Then, arrange your wood by stacking them on top of each other and putting spacers horizontally in between in a place with good airflow; if the spreading is done indoors, you can use a convection fan.  Finally, leave the wood exposed for days.

The advantage of this method is allowing your wood to dry naturally without using any equipment or chemical, while the downside is that it is very slow and can take weeks for the wood to dry thoroughly.

How Long Does It Take to Dry Wood Slices?

The time it takes for wood slices to get dried is dependent on the method employed while drying. Various methods have varying durations, as stated below.

  1. Using a microwave: This can take a few hours to a few days depending on the size of the wood.
  2. Soaking in denatured alcohol: It could take about 4 to 12 hours, although it takes longer to dry the wood off the alcohol.
  3. Kiln-drying: It takes over 24 hours to bake the wood in an oven well enough to get rid of any moisture.

In summary, you cannot dry wood in a matter of minutes; it takes at least a few hours and requires patience.

Factors Affecting the Drying Process

Certain factors affect how fast or how well wood dries. The method you choose and the thickness of the slice affect the speed and process of wood drying.

Other external factors do as well; they are:

  1. Air circulation: the aim of drying wood is to transfer heat while removing moisture using air. Hence the more air there is in circulation, the faster the entire process of drying.
  2. Humidity: the moisture content in the air is also a factor. The higher the level of humidity, the longer it takes to dry. You can use a dehumidifier if you want to dry on humid days so that you will have dry air.
  3. Temperature: drying on warm days will always be better than when the environment is cold, so check the internal temperature before drying.

So you want to ensure all these environmental factors are checked and at optimal levels for drying before proceeding.

How to Make Wood Slices

Making wood slices is easy if you access a chainsaw and lumber. All you have to do is follow these steps:

  1. Place the logs about 15cm off the ground.
  2. Measure and mark on the tree where you want to cut based on the size of wood slice you want.
  3. Firmly hold the chainsaw with both hands.
  4. Run it through the wood slowly.
  5. Brush off bark from the edges of the slices and then sand both flat surfaces of the wood slices.

Tips: Watch out for wood knots, and do not forget to wear gloves, thick clothes, and protective eyewear as you cut.

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How to Preserve Wood Slices After Drying Out

After drying out the wood slices, it is necessary to preserve them so they do not split or crack while in use. You might not need to make use of the wood slices immediately after drying out, so while they are being kept away.

Here are some things you can do to preserve them:

  • Keep them in a cool, dry environment away from any source of heat and moisture.
  • Apply a varnish.
  • Apply wood preserving products such as a wood sealer or a wood stabilizing solution.
  • Apply boiled linseed oil to the dried wood slices.
  • Use paintable wax.

FAQs

How to cure wood slices

To cure wood slices, soak the slices in denatured alcohol for one day. Ensure the slices are divided in one-inch thickness to soak well. Note the curing time depends on the thickness of the slice. After 24 hours, take the wood slices out, where they will dry and cure.

How to dry wood for crafts

You can dry wood for crafts under the sun naturally or air dry them. Sun drying is the fastest way, but it can cause the wood to warp and split. Air drying is slower but less likely to damage the wood. Just keep an eye on the wood to ensure it dries properly.

How to dry wood cookies

You can dry your wood cookies using a fan. By circulating air around the cookies, they will evaporate any moisture more quickly than if they were left to dry on their own. A fan will do, but it’s better to use a larger fun. The bigger the fan, the more air you can move.

How to dry wood cookies without cracking

To dry wood cookies without cracking, if you use a fan, don’t position it directly to the wood cookies. This may distort, causing cracks. The best way is to position the fan to blow across. If you resolve to use natural sunlight, dry your wood in an area out of direct sunlight.

How to prepare wood slices for crafts

Use a sealer to prepare your wood slices for crafts. You need to soak the slices in a container filled with a wood sealer so it can prevent splitting. Let it dry before you start working with it. And that’s it! Your wood slice is ready for whatever crafty project you have in mind.

How to dry wood slices without cracking

The first thing to do in order to dry wood slices without cracking is to lean the wood slices properly on the wall. You can also put them in an area that is well ventilated, like a shade or basement.

How to treat wood slices for centerpieces

Applying wood stains is an easy way to treat your wood slices for centerpieces and make them last longer. Apply the stain in long, even strokes along the wood grain. Every board is different, so test the stain on a small area first to see how it absorbs.

Conclusion

Drying wood slices is not as hard as you think. All you have to do is find the best drying method, and you will have your properly seasoned slices in no time. In the long run, you would have yourself to thank for it.

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