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Air Dried vs. Kiln Dried Wood

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  • Air Dried vs. Kiln Dried Wood

    Do those of you with personal experience think there is any difference in carving air dried wood vs. kiln dried wood? I took a carving class this weekend where the instructor said she doesn't use kiln dried wood. (The class was with Becky Lusk, an excellent Swedish-style caricature carver. Take one of her classes if you live in the upper Midwest. She carves the nicest eyes you've ever seen). She and her husband harvest and air dry their own lumber. She supplied the blanks for the class, and they did seem rather easy to carve. But, this is the only time I knowingly used air dried wood, so I can't really make an evaluation based upon one experience. Your thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: Air Dried vs. Kiln Dried Wood

    I really dont know I have carved both but I prefer air dried wood. I think it is because air dried wood still contains some moisture where kiln dry seems to splinter more for me. Plus air dried wood is much cheaper. I dont have any real expertise on the subject these are just my observations.


    • #3
      Re: Air Dried vs. Kiln Dried Wood

      Kiln dried wood seems to be too dry as Colin said ... however, that said, if stored for awhile all wood tends to stabilize to the atmosphere. If you live in the desert it's all gonna be kiln dried after awhile. Here in central Texas, one month it's kild dried the next its water logged.

      Just adapt to the wood, carve and be glad that it's not all Osage Orange.


      • #4
        Re: Air Dried vs. Kiln Dried Wood

        Air dried will usually have more 'life' to it.
        Kiln drying tends to disperse the sap into the fibers which makes the wood more uniform in texture.
        Economically, kiln drying is the best method.

        All wood will air-harden with time and become brittle.
        Air dried will harden from the outside to the inside, Kiln dried will harden consistantly throughout.


        • #5
          Re: Air Dried vs. Kiln Dried Wood

          Kiln drying is commercial. Air drying is the way it has been done for thousands of years. The question' which is better?' is impossible to reply to. The reason is the magnificent number of weapons we attack wood with. Each has its own rules to work in an effective manner. Chain saws work well with wet wood, and dull rapidly in dry. Shaped carbide cutters require dry wood and clog in wet.If you use chisels,then both wet/dry wood are your meat. Walnut should be kiln dried, I like it air dried,same with basswood. I think the sap in some woods crosslink, like a plastic, when done in a kiln. In any case, I didn't care for the last bit of kiln dried bass I purchased. The wood had no life to it. To be very honest, it may have been the wood ,not the fact it was kiln dried.Remember,you develop a' feel' for the wood as you work with it.I have a large amount of basswood in the garage that came from one source.I can 'feel' a difference with other basswood.The only way we might resolve the question is to take two pieces of wood to club meetings. One kiln dried, the other air dried . Without telling which is which, let each member hack away and decide which piece he/she likes better.


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