Microwaving Wood

Monday 9 July 2018

Microwaving wood is a great way of drying timber quickly with very little fuss. Many people have experimented with the concept to great success.

A microwave can bring the drying time of rough-turned pieces down to around one week, without the risk of the wood degrading. This method is a lot quicker than waiting for rough-turns to dry in a workshop. Opposite you will find a few simple pointers, and handy hints, to help set you on your way to using a microwave effectively in your workshop.

For the second part of this series, I will look at how you can successfully steam wood.

Step 1

To start, you require the largest internal size microwave that you can obtain. This will enable you to hold a large variety and size of items. This is where the woodturner's best friend comes in: cling film. Rough turn the piece and wrap tightly in cling film, then place in the microwave and set on defrost

Step 2

The time depends on the volume of wood placed in the microwave, and if you are using the turntable. For a 255mm (10in) bowl that is 25mm (1in) thick, I set the timer for six minutes. The bowl will come out quite hot and must be left for a while to cool, then, place back in the microwave to be reheated. This is done as many times as possible over a two-day period

Step 3

After about 15 insertions, cut the centre of cling film on the inside and round the dovetail to allow the water to evaporate. Carry on microwaving for a couple more days, watching for internal cracks

Step 4

Remove the cling film completely and microwave until bone dry – use a moisture meter, if possible – then remove, let the piece pick up the moisture and relax. It is now ready for re-turning and finishing