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333 West 500 North
Shelbyville, IN, 46176
United States

317-604-3689

America's heritage has stood in the fields and beside farm houses for over a century in the form of barns. Historic barns are becoming more difficult to find, and due to the increase in comercially zoned land are being destroyed. Reclaimed Barns & Beams reclaims the wood from these hand hewed, pinned barns that have stood the tests of time. It is our hope that we can transform this wood into vintage farm tables, chairs, ceiling beams, mantles and more. This will give us a chance to keep the history of these barns alive and with us for years to come.

To Kiln Dry or Not Kiln Dry

 
Reclaimed Farm Table

Reclaimed Farm Table

 

To Kiln Dry or To Air Dry...

 

For many applications, it's important to make sure your wood is dry. Logs and reclaimed lumber shrink in diameter, height, and width as they dry, but not in length. Reclaimed lumber retains moisture regardless of its age. Kiln drying adds an extra cost, and I want to make sure you only spend what you need to spend. To help you make a good decision, I've listed some of the benefits of each method:

Benefits of Kiln Drying:

Kiln drying is faster. For large sawmills, this is one of the most important benefits. Moving the lumber quickly reduces inventory costs and saves space in the lumber yard.

Kiln drying kills insects and eggs. For sawmills using reclaimed lumber and for sawmills in very humid areas, this can be an important consideration.

Myths about Kiln Drying:

Will Kiln drying produces lower moisture content? Yes, but only for a couple of weeks. All woods have equilibrium moisture content. It varies with the wood species and the relative humidity where the wood is installed or stored. For Ponderosa Pine, equilibrium moisture content is 12-19%. You can kiln dry Ponderosa to 8% for example, but it would quickly absorb enough moisture to get to equilibrium. For most projects, it's unwise to use wood with very low moisture contents. That's why professional flooring installers like to let the flooring "breathe" for a while before installing it. If they installed wood that wasn't at equilibrium, the floor might buckle as it absorbed moisture.

Does Kiln drying prevent bows and twists?  Have you ever noticed that in a lumberyard, there are more bowed and twisted studs at the bottom of a unit of lumber than on the top of a freshly un-banded unit? Part of the reason is that customers have sorted through the studs, leaving more bowed and twisted ones behind. But another reason is that the lumber was kiln dried, planed, and banded in quick succession. The bows and twists don't have a chance to develop until the bands are off and the lumber has a chance to reach equilibrium moisture content. Air drying, on the other hand, allows the lumber that's prone to bowing and twisting to do soon its own schedule. I can then pull these out of your order for some other use. The best way to minimize bows and twists is to start with good, straight timber with small growth rings and knots.

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Does Kiln drying prevent checking (cracks in the wood)? No. Woods crack in relation to their species, characteristics, thickness of the lumber or log, and how fast they dry, not the drying method. For this reason, kilns dry woods on schedules of hotter and cooler temperatures and add moisture to the wood during drying to avoid more cracking than would occur with slow air drying. For large beams and logs, it's possible to control cracking by cutting a thin slot in the sides of the beam where you want the cracking to occur. This works for air or kiln drying, and should be done right after milling.

If you're still doubtful about whether kiln drying produces better wood, go to an antique dealer. None of the wood there was kiln dried.