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How to Dry Lumber for Quality and Profit

Why lumber drying is important

Kiln operators, supervisors, and others associated with industrial lumber drying have benefited from How to Dry Lumber for Quality and Profit since 1949 when it was first offered at Oregon State University.   

Drying is needed to make most lumber suitable for use.    Drying results in dimensionally stable wood with increased strength.  Properly dried lumber is without warp, splits, mold or insects, and the pitch is set.  

Reducing downfall from #2&Better to #3  by 1% can add $250,000 annually to the bottom line of a large sawmill in normal times and much more at current lumber prices.  It is important to dry properly and efficiently.

The costs associated with drying are significant.  

  • It consumes 70% of the energy used to convert a tree to lumber
  • It represents 10-15% of the cost
  • Value loss due to warp, roller split, and jams at the planer can be significant.  

Lumber Drying Training Options

The workshop is offered at three levels, Complete, Basics, and For non-kiln personnel.  Each is monitored and the instructor is available for questions.  There are quizzes embedded at the end of each topic.  These help the learner know if they understand the material.  PDFs of course material are downloadable for future reference.

Lumber Drying Complete

This is the most comprehensive level and designed for workers managing kilns.  

All topics in the Basics class are addressed, usually in more detail.  In addition, there is more information on modifying kiln schedules, statistical bases for moisture measurements, energy savings, airflow analysis, and other topics.  The learner completes four of eight suggested discussion assignments by posting an experience or example related to the topic.  You can pick an option after starting the class.

Webinar Option

About 40% of the material is presented in eight webinars.  These provide an opportunity for questions and discussion.  

Self-paced Option

All of the material is self-study.  Work at your own pace. Sign up anytime.

Overall, the Complete course requires 24 to 36 hours to complete.  The content is the same for both options and described here.

Lumber Drying Basics

This class is for individuals working at kilns.  

It is comprehensive enough for most operators.  Twelve to 16 hours are needed to complete the class.  It is self-paced, although completion in 8 to 10 weeks provides the best learning.  The content is described here.

Lumber Drying for Non-kiln Personnel

This option is for non-kiln personnel.  

Quality drying starts well before the lumber enters the kiln.  This level is for personnel who need to interact with the kilns but not operate one.  It will benefit personnel who prepare lumber and load and unload kilns.  

It would also benefit maintenance personnel and managers in other departments.  Why lumber is dried and how kilns work are covered and the impacts of sorting, stacking, and handling on kiln performance are discussed.  Handling of dry lumber is also covered.   Examples of the costs of poor practices are included.   The narration time is one hour and the course can be completed in under two hours.  It is self-paced.  The content is described here.

Basics and Non-Kiln Personnel Courses: Always available.
price (2)
Complete: $735 (+$60, registration fee)
Basics: $595
Non-kiln personnel: $99
Additional Information:

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Mike Milota

Dr. Mike Milota is the owner of Wood Moisture Solutions, LLC providing training and consulting for the lumber industry. He is Professor Emeritus, Wood Science and Engineering, Oregon State University. He is a registered professional engineer in Oregon, although has now retired the license.

Mike attended Iowa State and Oregon State Universities, then started his career with the Masonite Corporation in Chicago in the wood composites industry. He then worked at the US Forest Products Laboratory in Madison Wisconsin after which he was on the faculty at Oregon State for 29 years. Mike's main research focus was lumber drying, but he also worked in lifecycle analysis and measuring air emissions from processing wood products.

This is Mike’s 35rd year organizing the lumber drying workshop at Oregon State and he has conducted many on-site workshops for sawmills.

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