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Blue Silica Gel (Read 464 times)
 
Richard Beecher
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Blue Silica Gel
Dec 25th, 2017 at 9:53am
 
Has anyone tried drying green/wet blanks using blue silica gel vs. drying in a small shop built heated kiln? If so, are there is there any downside?
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Don Stephan
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Re: Blue Silica Gel
Reply #1 - Dec 25th, 2017 at 10:38am
 
On a more general level, are you trying to dry rough-turned blanks of twice turned bowls, or finish-turned once turned bowls?  Or are you trying to dry bowl blanks prior to any turning?

What method(s) have you tried, and what shortcomings/frustrations are you hoping to reduce?

Sometimes background to a question can be essential to getting the desired information.
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Richard Beecher
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Re: Blue Silica Gel
Reply #2 - Dec 25th, 2017 at 12:55pm
 
I basically only turn pepper mills. With the common American woods i'll usually get kiln dried so I can turn them right away. Most of the exotics I end up with are usually wax covered and green to some degree and I'll rough turn them to round and put them on a shelf to dry weighing them periodically until the weight stabilizes.

I realize it can be a long process and I'm in the process of building a small shop kiln to help the drying along but I was just wondering if there is a quicker process.

Now that I have retail space in a high end gift shop to sell my mills and cutting boards I was caught with my shorts down, so to speak, and didn't anticipate the sales I would have during the holiday shopping season. I couldn't keep up with the demand. I ended up using all of my dried blanks and still couldn't keep pace and now only have green blanks left. I'll get more KD blanks but still have a ton of wet ones.
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Paul Gilbert
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Re: Blue Silica Gel
Reply #3 - Dec 30th, 2017 at 12:20pm
 
It would take a lot of desiccant to dry a wood blank that started out with 20% moisture content. Silica jell will hold up to 40% by weight of water. But to be a really effective desiccant you would want to rate it at something well short of this.

Do the math. Drying a 5# blank at 25% water down to 12% requires the removal of 0.65# water. This would require over 2# silica jell.

The limiting parameter in the drying process is the temp. of the wood. Water vaporizes in a kiln and then is removed by either venting or by absorption by a desiccant. Commercial hardwood kilns resemble a large warehouse where the temp. is maintained in the 90's F. The air in the warehouse passes through a dehumidifier (in this case a refrigeration unit) and then through a reheater. I have seen some modern Pine Kilns use this process, but at higher temps.
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Richard Beecher
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Re: Blue Silica Gel
Reply #4 - Dec 30th, 2017 at 5:25pm
 
I see your point. But as luck would have it I scored a inoperable 20 cu. ft. upright freezer just yesterday and will build a shop kiln. It's bigger than I had been looking for but you can't argue with FREE.

I ordered a wireless temp/humidity gauge and a small dehumidifier and picked up a small fan and some electrical parts to run a bulb. Surprisingly, home depot still carries 75 & 100 watt incandescent bulbs which I'll experiment with.

Based on your post I'll assume a temp around 90 degrees will be good to dry 3x3x12 blanks?
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Bill Neff
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Re: Blue Silica Gel
Reply #5 - Dec 31st, 2017 at 12:00pm
 
I recently re-saw this (I had seen it before, but forgot about it until I saw it again), this might be an option for you until you get the big kiln set up.   

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To help with the drying I'd rough turn the predrill (with a little smaller holes) the blanks.
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