Silica gel wood drying

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Amihai

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Oct 8, 2021
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Israel
Hello again,
As a follow-up to my earlier post...

Can you dry wooden pen blanks quickly using silica gel? I've seen several videos on YouTube claiming it can reduce the drying process from a matter of months to several days. They even make color-indicating ones! Have anyone here tried this method?

Thanks again,
Amihai.
 

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PatrickR

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I use this sometimes and it does work. It will draw up gross amounts of moisture fast but after that the process slows quickly and I have seen it cause warping and end checks. Your recent post was about ebony. This will dry slowly because it is so dense. It doesn’t pay to rush ebony. I will post how I handle it in that thread.
 

Curly

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Nov 20, 2010
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Saskatoon SK., Canada.
The April issue of the AAW magazine has an article on it. One of our club members is playing with it and drying rough turned bowls in a few days. Don't buy the blue silica gel as it has toxic stuff in it (cobalt). Read the safety data sheets on the desiccant you are considering buying. If you go for it let us know how you get on.
 

jrista

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Aug 12, 2021
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The April issue of the AAW magazine has an article on it. One of our club members is playing with it and drying rough turned bowls in a few days. Don't buy the blue silica gel as it has toxic stuff in it (cobalt). Read the safety data sheets on the desiccant you are considering buying. If you go for it let us know how you get on.
Aye, definitely find the safer desiccants. I picked up some orange/green colored stuff that color shifts as it picks up moisture for when I was experimenting with this.

My own experiences, at least when I last tried this, were that the bowls dry so fast that they would frequently crack a lot, such that even with first-turned bowls, the cracks were deep enough that they affected the final turned results. In some cases I even had full-through splits. After that experience, I did a lot more research, and learned the value of a measured rate of drying. You don't necessarily need to wait years, but drying over weeks to months, perhaps with the help of a home-made kiln (such as out of an old refrigerator, or in my case an old dishwasher), you can manage the rate of drying and maintain a progressively declining humidity to minimize cracking, warping and other wood movement.


 
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