Learn how to dry wood slices with this quick and easy method. Cracking is minimal, and no oven is required!
A few weeks back, my dad showed up with a chainsaw and cheerfully chopped up some tree branches that came down during a big storm.
I initially wanted to burn them… but then I saw some of the cute wood slice projects over on Pinterest, and decided turning them into free wood slices was the way to go instead.
Luckily, this process is pretty easy.
Drying out wood slices is actually really easy. All you need to do is grab some denatured alcohol, and allow the slices to soak for 24 hours for each inch of thickness. Take the slices out, and let them dry. Dry time varies based on slice thickness.
I cut my my slices to be between 1/2″ and 1″ thick. 24 hours of both soak time and dry time was plenty.
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- Denatured Alcohol
- Plastic Wrap
- Wood Log
How to Cut and Dry Wood Slices
Step 1: Cut the Slices
I used a miter saw to cut my slices, and full disclosure, this is not super safe. Miter saws are intended to be used with one side of the wood braced against the fence.
If your log is in any less than perfectly straight, this will be difficult. Try to use the straightest log you can in order to cut safely.
Avoid logs with knots on the edges. The knots make it hard to safely hold the log in place with your hand. Speaking from experience here. At one point, I lost my grip on the log, and it went flying. I was fine, minus a slightly bruised finger, but I figure it’s worth warning about.
Another option is to use a band saw to make the cuts. I haven’t tried this, so I can’t vouch for how safe it is, but if try it let me know how it goes!
Pro Tip: Only cut the wood slices when the wood is dry to the touch. Obviously, they might not be fully wood-dry, but if the bark is visibly wet, it tends to separate from the wood during cutting (at least mine did.)
I made the mistake of letting my wood sit out in the rain before I started…
Step 2: Soak in Denatured Alcohol
I started by pouring denatured alcohol into a 9×13 pan until it was about an inch and a half deep. This was enough to completely cover my slices, so I put rocks on top of the slices to hold them down in the pan.
The pan I used could typically fit between 6 and 8 slices at a time, so I did the slices in batches. I let them soak for 24 hours*, and then the next day would remove the slices and replace with new slices.
* I should note here that the soak time is based on the thickness of your slices. Aim for 24 hours per inch of thickness.
I did not replace the denatured alcohol until there was only a little bit left in the pan. The process still works even if the wood pieces are not fully covered!
Because denatured alcohol evaporates really quickly, it’s important to cover the pan with plastic wrap when you’re done prepping it, lest the alcohol evaporate before it soaks into the slices!
Step 3: Remove and Let Slices Dry
I lifted the slices out of the denatured alcohol and placed them at an angle on a towel against a wall. That way, air could get to the back of the slice as well as the front to help the slice dry.
I let the slices dry for about 24 hours this way, before moving them over to the “dry slice” pile.
A quart of denatured alcohol costs around $4, while a full gallon is around $10. If you only have a few slices, a quart should be more than enough.
The logs and are hopefully free, so the denatured alcohol is the only consumable for this project!
Are there other ways to dry wood slices?
Yes. I’ve heard of drying them in the oven, which if you have a baking sheet might go faster than my method here. However, I’ve also read that slices dried in an oven have a larger tendency to crack, which is why I went with the denatured alcohol method.
You could also just wait a really long time. Wood dries out on its own eventually.
Do I have to dry out my wood, or can I just cut my slices and go on with my project?
Wet wood has a tendency to attract bugs, mold, and other icky things. And even wood that’s dry to the touch might not be dry on the inside. In short, I wouldn’t do a project without drying my slices first.
Do you have a video of this?
Drying out wood slices with denatured alcohol is a pretty hands off method, and I love how little effort it was on my part.
The slices look great, and I absolutely love the wreath I made with them (post coming soon!)
If you found this post handy, be sure to save it to Pinterest so you can find it again later!