File any snags or sharp edges

How to Build a Food Dehydrator

When I first took up self reliant country living in the 1960s, I tried drying foods in a sandwich of old window screens laid at a sun facing angle across a pair of sawhorses, but canada goose outlet in usa found that Mother Nature canada goose factory outlet dries slowly in our changeable New England weather. canada goose outlet I also tried an antique sheet metal wet heat corn dryer designed for wood stove top use, but its single, rusty hardware canada goose outlet reviews cloth tray left barbecue marks on the apple slices. Plus, it was too small to keep up with our kids’ hearty appetite for dried delicacies.

In the 1970s I gave in to progress and got one of the MacManniman’s big yard square cheap Canada Goose electric food dryers. For two decades, its gentle electric heat preserved apricot halves and apple sections for babies to teethe on, along with other fruits, fishes and meats.

But in time the plastic screen on the racks snagged and frayed, and the oversize box got creaky from being hauled from cellar to kitchen and back. When it came time for a new dryer, all I could find for sale were little round, plastic kitchen gadgets and a couple of large and expensive wood box units from makers I’d never heard of. Canada Goose Parka So I designed and built my own.

Being of dark stained plywood, it absorbs solar energy for sun drying and works with stoveheat and electricity as well. Just one of its trays holds as much as one of the plastic dryers, fully loaded, but the box is hinged to fold flat for easy carrying and storage. Here’s how to make one for yourself! It’s a great late winter project offering a promise of the gardening season and harvest to come. cost about $50, or half again that much more if you buy the optional electric fan and thermostat.

Ready Made Drying Racks

The hardest parts of a food dryer for canada goose outlet new york city an amateur wood butcher to fabricate are framed screen drying racks. canada goose outlet They are continually being pulled in and out, and for adequate strength, you’d have to canada goose outlet nyc mortise or dovetail the joints, then stretch and fasten window screening to the wood a job requiring building jigs, a stretching frame, plus precision tools and set up time not warranted by a single project. I have the tools and materials but not the time, so I improvised pre assembled racks.

Know those telescoping half window screens? I bought three of the largest I could find (the store carried 12″ , 15″ and 24″ high screens), pried them apart and trimmed them for six ready made screen racks, measuring 23 5/8wide x 18 3/4 deep to give 18 square feet of drying area the perfect size for a home size dryer. You’ll also need the better part of a 4′ x 8′ sheet of finished both sides, 3/8″ thick, exterior grade plywood, a small can of moisture proof glue (the best is ugly red Resorcinol), a box of 6 3/4″ zincor brass plated, flat head wood screws, and a handful of 6 1 1/2″ flathead wood screws. If using a power driver, be sure to get Phillips head screws. Have on hand a dozen 1 1/2″ finishing nails. To hinge the box, buy three 24″ lengths of canada goose uk black friday brass piano hinge for some $6 apiece. For framing, buy or cut 30′ of inch square wood (square pine molding costs a half a dollar a foot; cheaper is to rip your own from any nominal 1″ thick board.) To make the rack supports, you’ll need 30 feet of 1/2″ quarter round molding, or more home cut square strips. For the base, get 6′ of 1″ x 6″ pine shelving and about 3′ of 2″ x 6″ lumber.

If you are handy canada goose uk outlet with electrical appliances you can disassemble a toaster oven and hook its heating element to the house wiring, or shop around for a rheostat controlled, low power, resistance wire heating element used in commercially made dryers. But, as a cheap and easy heat source,I use a a 25′ string of Christmas tree lights (and unscrew lights to moderate heat output). Lights are strung between screw hooks under the drying racks. Optional to speed airflow and shorten drying time is one of those little plastic shrouded muffin fans used in computers and copiers. You’ll find them used in surplus electronic goods catalogs for a few dollars, or at an electronics supply store for under $20. You might have one appliance do double duty and rig an electric hair dryer to blow heated air through a hole in the back canada goose outlet online uk of the dryer, but I’ve never tried it and doubt that a household quality model would hold up long under continual use.

A thermometer is a very helpful option to gauge dryer temperatures. I invested $15 for an electronic inside/outside thermometer. Its “outside” probe can be inserted deep into the dryer to gauge drying temps while the “inside” reading warns if the unit is getting too warm when used over a stove.

Metal working tools you’ll need include needle nose and side cutting pliers and a hacksaw with the finest toothed blade you can get. A flat metal file will smooth any exposed metal snags. A hot glue gun is an almost indespensible canada goose outlet shop aid in tacking on small frame boards that are best fitted on the work. Buy a small one at any hardware store for under $15 if you aren’t already so equipped.

Trimming the Screens

First, disassemble and trim the screen frames. With a little wiggling, and screwdriver and pliers use, the screens will pry apart. Trim off all but 1/4″ of the ends extending beyond the crossbar. Next, saw notches in the angles of the trimmed ends up to the crossbar. With the pliers, bend the 1/4″ flap of rail sides, tops, and bottoms to form a boxed end. File any snags or sharp edges.

Measuring and Cutting

The finished size of your screens defines the interior horizontal dimensions of the box. If yours differ from my 24″ x 19″ screens, add or subtract as needed from the following measurements.

Using the fine toothed plywood blade canada goose uk shop on your circular saw, cut from the plywood:

One 24″ wide and 28″ high back

Two 20″ x 28″ sides

One 22″ x 26″ top

One 27″ x 27″ door

One 25″ x 27″ bottom panel

With the planer blade on the power saw, from the 1″ x 6″ stock cut for the base:

Assembling the Folding Box

First, connect the side panels to the back panel with piano hinges. Placing the best side of the plywood down, lay a side panel on each side of the back panel long dimensions running up and down. Nudge long sides of the two side panels an even 1/8″ away from the long sides of the back panel. Place hinges between back and side panels canada goose outlet jackets with the flat side of the hinges facing up, the mid hinge bumps nestling into the space between panels. Use your steel rule canada goose outlet uk sale to assure that top and bottom edges of the canada goose clearance sale panels are even, so the box will set square. Tap panels as snugly together as you can without pushing the hinges up. Then insert the little wood screws that come with the hinges into 1/16″ wide, 1/4″ deep pilot holes, drilled through the precise center of the holes in the hinge and canada goose factory sale into the plywood (use a centerpunch of sharp nail to center the drill bit). Tighten brass screws by hand, not with the power driver too much torque can bruise the soft grooved heads.

To locate the rack rests, scribe eight lines from side to side, across all three panels every 3″ from and parallel to the bottom edge. Do not canada goose outlet black friday fix rails to the top or the bottom lines. Apply waterproof glue to one flat side of the six 22″ lengths of canada goose outlet store uk quarter round molding and center them with their top edges just below the lines on the back panel. Locate the 18″ quarter rounds with one end 1 1/2 ” in from buy canada goose jacket the outer edges of each side panel and glue in place even with the rails on the back. As you go, pilot drill and set 3/4″ brass screws through the belly of the quarter round rails and into the plywood one screw an inch from each end and one in the middle.

The Base

The box rests on square stock rails attached to the inside of a base of 6″ wide lumber. As your final box size may vary depending on hinge design and placement, build the base (as well as the top and door) around the three sided box. Set the box square and perfectly centered in the 25″ x 27″ plywood bottom panel. Trim the two 27″ x 6″ boards (one of 1″ thick lumber, the other of 2″) the width of the back plus 1/8″ inch. Center the 1″ x 6″ on edge 1/16″ from the back. Center the 2″ x 6″ flush against the front edges of the side panels. Trim the 23″ 1″ x 6″s to box the front and back boards. (For a sturdier fit, cut a 3/4″ wide, 3/8″ deep notch at the inside ends of the 2′ x 6′ front board so the nominal 1″ side boards will snug into it. It also looks best to trim the back and side boards at 45 degreesto make a mitred joint. Just be sure the box has about 1/16″ of clearance from back and sides of the base.) If the plywood base panel extends beyond the baseboards, draw around outsides of the latter and trim the plywood to size.

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