UBC Certificate in Kiln Drying

Program Overview

The drying of wood is a complex scientific process where many different technologies have a role to play. To effectively dry wood one must understand the basics of wood anatomy such as the water vapour diffusion process, as well as the physics of heat and air circulation, and computer control technologies. A focused attitude towards quality is a key element in any good kiln drying operation.

Improper drying in wood can lead to significant losses in yield and value in lumber. End checks, warp, split and other drying defects such as moisture content variation are all common defects that will lead to reduced efficiencies that affect other parts of the production process. Most of these increased costs are as a result of skills deficiencies rather than being attributable to equipment failure. Many facilities routinely accept kiln drying losses of 5 to 10 % without questioning the reason for these losses. Experts have concluded that at least half of these losses can be recovered with better drying practices resulting from skills upgrading by operators and managers.

Kiln drying has become much more technologically complex in recent years. More lumber in both primary and secondary manufacturing is now being custom dried for specific value-added end products. Training and education relevant to kiln drying has not kept up with these changes. In the mid 1990s a formal audit of industry needs identified the need for a comprehensive training program to provide professionals involved in kiln drying with the skills needed to ensure optimal value and volume recovery from the drying process. It is within this context that the UBC Kiln Drying Certificate Program was developed.

The goal of the Kiln Drying Certificate Program is to provide industry respected training that is specifically geared towards secondary and advanced primary manufacturing. The training program certifies competency to operate dry kilns, as determined by standards established by the wood products industry.

The full program entails approximately 150 hours of instruction, offered via a series of six modules that range in duration from two to five days. The modules blend the teaching of solid scientific principles with a practical solutions-based approach. Plant visits and team-based exercises reinforce classroom learning. The courses are conducted both at the University of British Columbia and at external locations in collaboration with partner colleges, universities and the private sector. The program is taught using a core curriculum but sessions include extensive discussion of regional issues based upon climate, product and species variations. Each module is offered at least once per year. Participants may complete the modules at their own pace in order to fit in with professional responsibilities.

The Kiln Drying Certificate Program is administered by the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP), Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia.

For more information on specific modules:

What previous participants in the program have said…

“The strength of this course is in the experience and depth of knowledge of the instructors. ” – Vernon participant

“A good informative course – very valuable for anyone who’s linked to the kiln drying process” – Vernon participant

“Dave’s passion and enthusiasm for the subject material rubs off on the whole class” – Prince George participant

“A very informative course – I’m very happy with the added knowledge I now have on kiln drying. I look forward to the next levels” – Duncan participant

Kiln Drying Certificate Instructor

Dave Scholte developed his understanding of lumber drying from the shop floor up. Dave first became involved in lumber drying in the late 1970s. Becoming a back-up kiln operator for Sauder Moulding, Dave was introduced to the drying of high value shop-through-clear products. Dave then moved on to become Kiln Manager at Panabode Int. in Richmond, overseeing a range of industrial and shop programs. While at Panabode Dave worked with MacMillan Bloedel staff in the development of new custom programs. During this period Dave became involved in the Coast Kiln Association, and went on to chair the Association. Dave has participated in numerous Kiln Drying seminars across Western North America, presenting papers at the Portland Wood Show, Forest Products Society, Kiln Drying seminar, and at the Wood Forums held in Vancouver. He has instructed the UBC Kiln Drying Certificate since its inception and holds an M.A. in Education.