What are the main ways of drying wood whether it be wood you milled into boards or just cut into turning blanks?

I have heard of sealing the end grain and then just leaving the piece to dry on it's own but then I believe there are even different ways to each of those.

Please share how you personally do it or how you have seen others do this.

  • I’m voting to close this question because it's asking for open-ended discussion and that's not what this forum is about.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 16:02

3 Answers 3


I have heard of sealing the end grain and then just leaving the piece to dry on it's own but then I believe there are even different ways to each of those.

Yes that is the standard way of drying all wood, regardless of whether in board form or the type of piece that would be a turning blank.

The reason for sealing the end grain is to slow drying, since it is through the end grain that wood loses and takes on the most moisture.

As the goal is to get the wood to dry it seems counter-productive to do something that slows the process but unfortunately in most cases it is only by doing it slowly that you reduce the chances of various types of cracking defect and warpage. Force-drying as in a kiln is different since the wood is dried quickly but under controlled conditions.

How to seal end grain
If you don't use a commercial product made for the purpose (e.g. Anchorseal) the best thing to use to seal end grain is melted wax. Any type of wax will do so no harm in going cheap. Most of the wax can be recovered though, scraped from the end grain, remelted and reused indefinitely so it won't work out too expensive if you use something like beeswax.

There is much help online on this in all the woodworking forums that says you can coat the end grain with anything, and almost inevitably the next words typed will be "using latex paint" (UK: household emulsion) but this is bad advice and needs to stop being repeated. Paint of this type is actually far too porous to provide a good seal. Is it better than nothing? Probably. Is it actually a good way to go though? No.

If doing it with molten wax isn't feasible or too much hassle and a product like Anchorseal too expensive the next best things to use are varnish or oil-based enamel paint, both of which form a good water barrier in a thick coating. Ideally you'd want to slop either one on heavily, and if you want to go to the trouble to apply more than one coat so much the better.

You won't regret sealing end grain too heavily. You're sure to regret it if you seal it too lightly.

Note that with boards you usually (nearly always) dry them flat, stickered but with one or two species that are prone to staining the convention is to dry them vertically, which if you're doing it yourself will usually mean leaning against a wall. With turning blanks as well as with sticks it's quite common to dry them upright.

Speeding drying at home
You can sometimes get away with speeding up drying wood with smaller pieces. There is still the chance of checks, particularly with rounds or small log sections, but in general the smaller a piece of wood the less the risk. One of the best methods to do this at home on a small scale is using your microwave, but you may decide to buy a cheap second microwave for this purpose only if you do this regularly. Read more about that in Can I use a conventional oven or toaster oven as something similar to a dry kiln?

Note that you don't seal the end grain and then do this, for reasons that should be obvious :-)

  • 1
    You may be interested in a possible method to automate that! Changing the power setting on your microwave doesn't change the output from the magnetron. It changes its duty cycle: The amount of time it spends on and off. Which is to say, when it is on, it's on a full blast. At lower powers, it just spends some of its time off. It looks like on some microwaves, at least, this could be used to automate the drying so you don't have to babysit it: hans.fugal.net/blog/2009/03/12/microwave-duty-cycle Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 16:46
  • 1
    @CharlieKilian Thanks I knew that the magnetron was an on/off deal. Pretty sure even at the "low power" settings like Defrost it still won't work as one would hope, especially with modern microwaves because of their high power output the wood will still get hotter than you'd want. For the experimental sort it's worth trying of course, as long as they are willing to accept the consequences if the wood does get too hot — angry missus/girlfriend/parental unit and the smell coming back for a few months every time the microwave is used to regularly remind everyone of the mistake LOL
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 17:46
  • Haha yes, I'd be tempted to go to a second hand store and see if I could find a working microwave for cheap to use to experiment with this. Or watch Craigslist or something. But that might also defeat the purpose of trying to do it yourself on the cheap! Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 17:54
  • @CharlieKilian Yes I think a CL buy is probably the ideal way to go in many respects. You could even put it in the workshop, garage or basement so that if you accidentally overdo it (it's very easy!) the smell is further away from living spaces.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 18:33
  • @Graphus Specifically related to turning blanks, I read somewhere that when actually cutting them from the log or wherever one finds them that they should cut out the utmost center of the wood or rather the "pith". I see no reason to why this wouldn't be the case but I figured I would ask you anyway since I had no idea about the latex paint meaning my knowledge is flawed.
    – mvr007
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 0:07

I have used dehumidifiers to dry a load of reclaimed wood that was milled to use as trim in a home. It was at 20% moisture content (MC) so I made a frame of 2X material after I set a layer of 6 mil poly on the floor large enough to wrap the whole pile after I built the frame to support the plastic. The frame needed to be high enough to hold 2 dehumidifiers that sat on top of the pile and have it hold the plastic high enough to clear the dehumidifiers. This topped out at about 5' tall. It made it easy as well to enter the sealed area to empty the containers twice a day. About a gallon of water each time. After 2 weeks the material was dry enough to use. As a note the wood was stickered between each level of boards.


Drying can be accelerated by coating ends in wax and setting up a de-humidifier with its air outlet aimed at the wood stack (onto length of wood not onto the ends)

I have used one with great effect with the water collecting outlet via a small rubber tube out through the wall (no danger of the damp air re-moisting the wood)

I have also used an "air purifier" which does much the same job (with carbon filter removed) but over a longer period because the moisture isn't extracted as much

  • Coating the ends with wax doesn't speed up drying -- it slows it down, preventing the checking that can happen when the ends of a board dry faster than the middle (see Graphus's answer above). Air purifiers don't reduce humidity at all; the only way a purifier would help in drying wood is to move air around, just like any fan.
    – Caleb
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 2:22
  • Why would you aim the air outlet, from which the dehumidifier ejects moist air, at the wood? Wouldn't it make more sense to have the outlet as far as possible from the wood?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 16:01

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