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kiln dried wood


TedN
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I just received a really nice piece of wood that has perfect deep flames. I was going to use it for another project, but I could get a lot of really nice scrolls out of it. Probably 10-15 scrolls. The only problem is that the piece of wood is kiln dried.

I would never used kiln dried wood for plates, but I'm very tempted to use this piece of wood to make scrolls out of just because they would be gorgeous due to the deep flames.

If I were to use this wood for scrolls, would this have a negative impact on the sound of the final instrument? If it would, it's not worth it. Just very tempting.....

Has anyone here used kiln dried wood for scrolls? What was your experience with this as far as the sound of the final instrument was concerned? Was there a negative impact? You can PM me on this topic, as it might be not considered "orthodox" in the world of luthier-ship.

Mums the word. ;-)

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Since someone would need to build an identical instrument, from exactly identical wood which was air dried, there is no way to answer your question.

I’d imagine that most wood is artificially dried to an extent, in order to prevent staining and mould.

I’d just use the wood, and not worry.

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Virtually all modern wood is kiln dried to some extent, I believe. The horror stories about kilns all date from more than 100 years ago when they didn't have much in the way of control and internal defects were common in kilned wood. These days the process is entirely different, and much more gentle.

 

As I understand it, in gross summary:

Old way: wood put in heat and dried, which formed a case-hardened surface that didn't shrink while the wood inside would continue to shrink, resulting in open, spongy internal texture and splitting. Huge problems didn't always develop, but the process was a prescription for internal stresses.

Now: wood is heated in a damp atmosphere and the humidity in the air is dropped gradually, matched with the wood humidity, so that the wood is always almost in equilibrium with the surrounding air, same humidity all the way through, no outside crust, and the whole bulk shrinks together, gently, without built up stresses and splitting. This is possibly even better than traditional air drying.

It was never about the heat, but about developing internal stresses and flaws.

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Wood can be air-dried poorly too.  If you get a hot, dry day, look out.  I think kiln drying can be better controlled.

I'd just look carefully for endgrain splits, however the wood has been dried.  No splits, good to go.

What I do to wood is somewhat like extreme kiln drying, and thus far I have not had any splits from it.

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I agree that most modern kilns are probably way better than traditional air drying. More controlled to prevent any defects from uneven drying. No mold or fungus to stain the valuable wood, no internal stresses. With air drying you need to seal endgrain and take care of possible bugs of fngus forming, keep good airflow, but not too much of heat etc. and still s..t happens. Air drying of maple can go wrong in several ways, you can dry too fast or too slow and you only find out when you slice the piece open and find checks or mold stain inside piece that looks perfect on the surface (DAMHIKT). Drying of spruce is much simpler though.

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My only real concern with kiln dry as Stated is the relative stress that may be imparted during the process…back in the day , kilns were harder to control and less was known of the effects, they also could accept more of a waist stream so cracks and warps could be simply burnt as fuel for the next train load , in short modern kiln dried wood doesn’t seem to have the same negative impacts as what grandpa got …  to quick and hot and dry , can stabilize the outside while the inside is wet creating a stress jacket of sorts , that when cut into can reveal warping with one side , if the wood is otherwise suitable as far as density and quarter goes ,I’d say try And cut a blank and see if it moves … 

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If the drying in a kiln wasn’t done correctly, you should be able to see it at the color. If the outer layer is darker than the wood deeper inside, certainly something is wrong. Sometimes you have to look carefully because the difference is rather minimal.

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

If the drying in a kiln wasn’t done correctly, you should be able to see it at the color. If the outer layer is darker than the wood deeper inside, certainly something is wrong. Sometimes you have to look carefully because the difference is rather minimal.

There are many types of kilns these days. From simple heat/air circulation with controlled RH of air to vacuum or microwave systems that work on different principles. Some od them may move some sap/resins from inside to the surface and cause the surface darkening as natural result of the process.

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32 minutes ago, HoGo said:

There are many types of kilns these days. From simple heat/air circulation with controlled RH of air to vacuum or microwave systems that work on different principles. Some od them may move some sap/resins from inside to the surface and cause the surface darkening as natural result of the process.

Well, responding to @TedN as well:

 Best artificial drying methods are those you can execute and control yourself. 
 

Regarding sound when choosing  the neck wood, I’d say based on some experiments that the effect is zero. The most radical experiment I made was to use a pernambuco neck graft. The effect was literally zero. 
 

I myself would today definitely use kiln dried wood for the top plate. But again, I do it myself, and elaborated a process which seems to promising for some tonal advantages. 
 

For the back, I wouldn’t use kiln dried wood. 

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3 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

If the drying in a kiln wasn’t done correctly, you should be able to see it at the color. If the outer layer is darker than the wood deeper inside, certainly something is wrong. Sometimes you have to look carefully because the difference is rather minimal.

When I was buying wood in Mittenwald, some of the dealers would place their wood out in the sun on sunny days to give the wood a darker richer color. So I don't think that surface darkening necessarily has anything to do with kiln drying.

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

When I was buying wood in Mittenwald, some of the dealers would place their wood out in the sun on sunny days to give the wood a darker richer color. So I don't think that surface darkening necessarily has anything to do with kiln drying.

I was actually talking about color going a few millimeters deep. 
 

(Mittenwald dealers washed their wood first with soap water and then put it on a sunny day on the lawn.)

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4 hours ago, David Burgess said:

When I was buying wood in Mittenwald, some of the dealers would place their wood out in the sun on sunny days...

Now there's a totally uncontrolled method subject to rapid, wild swings in moisture content.  But it's not a kiln.

Unless you cut, split, and dry the wood yourself, you never know what might have been done to it... so you just have to see what condition it's in NOW and not worry about it too much.

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