How to make a vacuum kiln in 20 screwups or less.

Well it seems like that many screwups anyway (G) Part of the problem was getting the right info and then applying it. I got a lot of help and some info that does to work. But hell I am not blaming anyone. I was rushed and had little money so things sometimes were not done right. Ok here are some of the things I was told. First that you need a little fresh air in to move the moisture to the pump. This is false the moisture makes it to the pump just fine. Second is you don't need heat. But you do I was told you still need 1000 btu's per pound of water removed no matter what you use. I found you need atleast some heat the more you have the faster the wood dries to a point. 140 degrees is about the max. I was told you can leave the pump off and turn it on once in awhile. But you need the pump running the full time to remove the moisture. First thing that caused me problems was not leaving the pump running. I could not get a good enough seal for it to hold the vacuum. This drove me nuts and was a big battle. I put my good pump on a timer so it was not on all the time. This burned out the motor out. It was a good but slow pump with very old motor. So I got another pump but I never know how much vacuum you needed to pull so I only got a pump that goes down to 24" well I finally found out you need atleast 29" of vacuum to boil the water out of the wood and 29.5 to.9 is better. Though the higher the temp the less vacuum you need though it only goes down to about 28" when you are at about 140 degrees I think. Now you need a pump that can handle some moisture this is a tricky one. You need a pump that can go down to 29" minimum handle a little moisture without dieing and one that is meant to run continually. I have a gast saa pump that has two pistons/diaphragms. I don't think the moisture will hurt it (I will find out soon enough) that seems to work well. Pumps like this I think will work well http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item%45452918 As long as they have a gas ballast to removed the moisture from the oil. http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?cgiurl=http%3A%2F%2Fcgi.ebay.com%2Fws%2F&MfcISAPICommand=GetResult&query a&categoryid=&ht=1&st=2&category1811&SortProperty=MetaEndSort&BasicSearch=&from=R2&catref is a good choice too. Ok lets go to the chamber. I started with using PVC and it works ok. Not the greatest thing to heat but it works. You just need a chamber that is easy to seal and to plumb and that can take the heat. Right now my kiln is running at 120 degrees and is PVC with no problems. It will be replaced with metal ones soon. But it's easy to put fittings on the PVC pipe and to cut it and such. I seal one end permanently and the other end I make the lip nice and flat and use a gasket and a lid. You can use sheet rubber between the lid and the pipe if you make the fit good. If you can't make the fit good you can use a softer material like closed cell neoprene. The lid needs to be thick enough to stay flat. The larger the pipe the thicker it needs to be. I glued up two pieces of " and sealed the one face with epoxy. You can't heat PVC to 140 so if you want high heat you need to use metal pipe. 12" is about the max you can heat from the outside. The center won't get very warm if you go larger. Ok now onto heating the kiln. This is a tricky part. Heat does not move well if at all in vacuum. When I found out I needed heat I tried using these heat bars I had. With wood laying on them, that piece would get hot but not any others. Heat does not go up in a vacuum kiln. You can wrap the wood in a heating blanket but this seemed a real pain to me to deal with. Getting the wood in and out and plumbing the cord into the kiln and all. So I decided to heat from the outside. The trick here is to have a hot enough heat source that will heat evenly the whole length of the pipe including the end. I found a good deal on radiant heat wire on eBay. It gets me 120 degrees pretty evenly. You can see it in the pic below. For me this is plenty hot and the wood is drying plenty fast. An old electric blanket will work fine. The new ones have 10 hour timers. Don't apply too much heat or a PVC pipe will collapse.
http://www.knight-toolworks.com/web_temp_pics/vacuumkiln.jpg
Ok lets get on with this. You will need to seal the ends of the wood before you put it in. I use ancorseal but wax will do. Glue will not do. Silicone will do (G) used that when I had nothing else. Oil based paint may work but I don't know. Latex I don't think will work. With ebony I found I needed to seal all faces with the ancorseal or I got surface checking. I don't know about other woods yet. You also want to pre heat the wood before you pull a vacuum. This made a big difference in checking. It will take some learning how to get perfect wood from the kiln. One thing that a vacuum kiln can do is dry wood unevenly. So you need to check the whole board. A pinless meter may be a must so you can check the whole board fast. I have found ebony that was fully dry but in the middle or on one face on one end. Even heat may help eliminate this or help. Right now I am getting 5 to 10% moisture loss overnight. I may go for less heat and see if I get less checking. I think that is most of what I have learned. I had trouble getting enough vacuum till I rebuilt my vacuum pump. Once I got down to 29" of vacuum I got water vapor out the outlet of the pump. This was the first time I noticed it. if you get water coming out of the pump you know it is working right. I forgot hose. I tried the braided clear hose the Borg sells. It may have worked without heat. But the inside and outside separated and blocked the flow. Right now I am using air hose one type collapsed a little way but we will see. You don't want to reduce the size of the like that what the pump's inlet is. Larger is better.
http://www.knight-toolworks.com/web_temp_pics/newkiln1.jpg
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Steve:
When do you find time to make planes? Remember, those wooden things with the sharp steel piece stuck in it - at an angle?
I'm starting to think sending you that first vac pump wasn't such a good idea. Had no way of knowing where your fertile mind would take uses for it. I use to work with Hi-Vac chambers that would be pretty good for your current application. Stainless steel vac chamber - 3 ft diameter, 4 ft tall with 1 inch thick ground quarts viewing ports, dual silicone rubber O-rings and ten to the minus 6 micron vacuum when you used the liguid nitrogen and inert oil trap. The RF (radio frequency?) generator provided the heat but if you wanted to REALLY heat things you used the EB gun (electron beam gun) which could vaporize almost anything - we did gold for laser mirrors and some pretty strange chromium/cobalt alloys to make magnetic tape. The lab I was at had small vacs but the plant had walk in versions.
Steve, you're a natural born researcher. Should turn you loose on baldness "cures" - you'd make a fortune.
Consider condensing the water vapor BEFORE it gets to your pump. A cold water jacket/sleeve around the tubing and a liquid water trap BEFORE the pump would do two things - keep the pump cooler AND keep the moisture from getting to the pump.
But keep you're eye on the ball Steve. To paraphrase James Carvel - "It's The Planes Stupid". (actually It's The Family First, then The Planes).
charlie b
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(G) yes it has eaten up far more time they I could afford. but since I could not buy dry cocobolo and ebony what choice did I have?
ALLY heat things you used

dry wood in about 5 seconds (G)

(G) I love figuring out things. my only real limit is money.

yes I had just seen one of those. right now I am not removing much water and the pump is a no oil pump. but I see one in the future. Now I take it if the water is kept cold it will not boil back into the pump right?

got to keep my mind sharp. only so many new plane ideas to work on.
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On Sat, 26 Jul 2003 02:43:01 GMT, Steve Knight

I definitely haven't seen any carriagemaker's planes in your style list, Stevey san.
http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/articles/plan1098.htm
Coopering planes are hard to find, too, but they're in higher demand nowadays.
http://www.davistownmuseum.org/pics/tcj1001.jpg
http://www.davistownmuseum.org/pics/tcj1006.jpg
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~pfs/tool/re42.html http://www.mot.be/cgi-bin/ID-DOC.cgi?language=en&mode=Z&data=_Names.txt%3C-%3Ecooper 's%20bottom%20chamfering%20plane http://www.mot.be/cgi-bin/ID-DOC.cgi?language=en&mode=Z&data=_Names.txt%3C-%3Ecooper 's%20chiv http://www.mot.be/cgi-bin/ID-DOC.cgi?language=en&mode=Z&data=_Names.txt%3C-%3Ecooper 's%20sun%20plane http://www.mot.be/cgi-bin/ID-DOC.cgi?language=en&mode=Z&data=_Names.txt%3C-%3Ecooper 's%20stoup%20plane
These niches could be yours for the asking.
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