Success Stories

North Carolina Homesteader Builds Mobile Solar Kiln

North Carolina Homesteader Builds Mobile Solar Kiln

by Samantha Alexander, Contributing Author

A self-proclaimed homesteader, Nathan Brown was tired of powderpost beetles destroying the lumber he laid out to air dry, so he decided to build a solar kiln. "The solar kiln will cook those little buggers and keep them out of my wood," said Nathan. The design for the kiln came from a set of free plans from Virginia Tech University. However, putting the solar kiln on wheels by using a refurbished mobile home trailer was Nathan’s own special twist. “I wanted the kiln to be mobile so that it could be hauled around the farm and to other milling sites to optimize the best solar gain,” he said.

Using a Wood-Mizer LT15 sawmill with DoubleHard blades, Nathan cut 550 total board feet to complete the 120 square foot project in just 5 weeks. By using a combination of tulip poplar, red oak, and pine, the kiln takes on an aesthetically stunning dimension and look. Not only did Nathan save around $2,500 by completing the project himself, he will also save money in the future by having the ability to dry his own lumber on-site. “I started this project because I wanted to create high quality, finish grade lumber with my LT15,” said Nathan. “As a finish carpenter, I appreciate the value of wood that has been properly dried to the best moisture content.”

The subfloor of the kiln was built with pressure treated 2” x 6” boards bolted to the frame of the refurbished trailer. The exterior is also lined with a layer of zip board for blocking moisture from entering the kiln. Nathan also used planed tulip poplar boards to finish the kiln and topped it all off with red oak battens and trim. “Everyone who sees the kiln comments on how beautiful it looks,” said Nathan. “The beauty of this project would not have been possible without my LT15! Now that it’s done, I’m ready to start sawing again so I can load the kiln with lots of board feet.”

Project Overview
Sawmill: LT15
Blades: DoubleHard

By the Numbers:
120 square feet
550 board feet of tulip poplar, red oak, and pine
75% of project completed with Wood-Mizer sawn lumber
5 months to complete
$2,500 saved

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