Solar Dehydrator Building

Ok, we’ve been doing a lot of talking lately. Time for some doing!

In case anyone is interested in an online build along, I’m starting the build for a DIY solar dehydrator, and I’m going to document the progress.  Feel free to build along with me, we can bring up issues and questions, and get past the hurdles together.

Window procurement -I’m using a window that’s sized 46″x29″, that I got free from people who were replacing them for higher efficiency models.  Check places like Craigslist, Freecycle and local architectural salvage businesses.   I’ve gotten free and cheap windows from all of those places.  If you can find one that’s already black, that just makes your job easier.

Building plans – Y’all might hate me for this one, but I am not a recipe sort of person, and that approach bleeds over into woodworking.  I take what I have, and I cut and fasten until it looks like what I need, then I stop. The size of my window is what I will design around, because that’s the size I can’t change. :-D  That said, I am keeping a few things in mind. Some things that I know I want in the finished dehydrator.

I know I want the window to hinge, with a handle or two.  I know I want it to sit on legs. I know I want it to tilt a little to encourage the convection of hot air. I’m thinking I’ll tackle this in layers.  The top layer, the window, I have, as well as the handles and hinges. Below that I’ll need something I can paint black, cut to size and easily lift in and out. Below the black sun-blocking layer will sit the screens to hold the food.  Those will need to be made, I could use my circular plastic trays from the electric dehydrator I have, but I’m not sure how great they would fit or last in something like this.  Then of course, the bottom of the unit, maybe just a plywood base, and the frame, 2×4’s, 1×3’s.  Legs can probably be 2×4’s.

If you must have plans, there are plenty to be found online and in magazines or books, find one that fits your needs and materials. Post it in the comments if you think it’s really awesome. Others might find it handy.

Tools – I do by hand, some things that most Americans would use power tools for.  Lady preppers, if you haven’t used hand tools yet, let me encourage you right now.  I like a power driller as much as the next person, but for small projects, I often choose the hand tools for a more enjoyable building experience.  Less of the ringing ears and numb fingers, more of the smell of wood and the rasp of the saw blade. I know I have a hand saw that can deal with 2×4’s and 1×3’s.  I know I have screws and nails, so I have my choice.  I may put the frame together with hammer and nails, then switch to screws for the legs.   Carpenters square, pencil, tape measure, a file; those are all really easy to use, they make things go smoother and they’re not too hard to come by.

Do chime in if you are building along. Or, if you have DIYed a solar dehydrator, and have tips, those would be awesome. I’d like to get this done before the end of summer glut, so I have a 1 month goal for completion. Should be fun!

Calamity Jane