Randy Sawchyn has been busy roughing out bowls and gives us a good description of his drying process. Thanks Randy for this excellent description of a process that others might like to try.
I have been experimenting lately with drying green-roughed out bowls in a food dehydrator. I was looking on the internet at options using an old fringe or freezer. Most of these use a small incandescent light bulb and maybe a fan to circulate air. I thought my dehydrator would be similar and as a bonus was already set up. The lowest heat setting on mine is 80°F and watching U Tube it seems around 80-85 F is a good temp. I also tried to fill the unit as was suggested with the fridges. I don’t own a moisture meter but weighed bowls regularly. They still lose some weight after drying but it’s very slowly so I felt running dehydrator longer resulted in diminished returns. Most wood experimented with was maple with a few pieces of the birch that Dave brought to the season opening BBQ.
I have run 3 batches successfully and find that this works especially well for smaller to mid size bowls. Larger just needed more time and take up more space.
Lot 1 was started after drying in paper bags and shavings for about 2 weeks. I ran dehydrator for approx 6 hour cycles then left off for about same time. Running longer than 6 hours seemed that minor checks would develop, however these usually closed after sitting.
Second batch I coated with a log sealer and they went in right after turning. I was able to run dehydrator continuously for about 3 days without checks developing. I slowly increased temp to 90F towards end. This wood was very wet while roughing. Largest bowl is about 13 inches in diameter.
The last lot was some maple that Dave brought to the Shell Lake event. It too was wet and I was also able to run continuously without checking after sealing just end grain. Cracks mostly occurred where I left some of pith on rim. Bowls were all smaller.
Overall I would consider this experiment to be very successful. With log sealer you can dry medium sizes bowls in 3-4 days. There is no degradation in blanks after they have been sitting for a month or so. I have only attempted finishing a few smaller bowls from the last batch. The shavings are dry and the finished bowls haven’t moved or developed cracks.
Here is an example from the third lot.