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Solar Food Dehydrator

How to build your very own solar food dehydrator from scratch.

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Step 1 – Collect the Materials

Except for the thick, 2cm plywood sheet, which is absolutely essential for this solar dehydrator construction plan as the majority of parts are cut out from there, you can replace many of the materials in the above list with similar materials that you have ready at hand. Be creative!

Step 2 – Mark out the cuttings

Illustration courtesy of Dennis Scanlin.

The majority of the wood in Scanlin’s solar dehydrator plan can be cut out from the 2cm thick plywood sheet. Get your measuring and marking equipment ready and mark out the cuttings, as described the graphic, on your plywood. Once you have everything marked out, jack up your plywood sheet on your sawhorses and carefully cut out the individual pieces using a circular saw. Lay the two large sides on top of each other to check whether they are the same shape and trim them to match, if necessary.

Step 3 – Install the braces

Illustration courtesy of Dennis Scanlin.

Now it is time to assemble the two sides of your dehydrator using the 12 wooden braces from the materials list: Scanlin’s lead chart is useful to figure out what goes where. Place the two sides side-by-side and upside down on your sawhorses and begin by installing the 10cm wide brace between the two sides. Pre-drill your holes and fasten the braces in place with the 4cm flat-head screws. Continue with the two 2cm braces at the bottom of the collector box and keep working your way up from there. Obviously you cannot yet install the two 2cm braces that will go into the roof and I would also recommend waiting with the four 4cm braces that will hold the vent covers in place.

Step 4 – Collector box bottom

Building a Solar Food DehydratorNow it is time to attach the thin, 0.6cm sheet of plywood to the bottom of your collector box: with the two joined sides still lying upside down on your sawhorses put the plywood sheet on top and fasten it with the 3cm flat-head screws around every 30cm all around. Don’t forget to pre-drill your holes! Once your collector box bottom is in place you can saw off any overlapping pieces.

Step 5 – Drying chamber front

Get your drying chamber front piece, which you cut out from the plywood sheet earlier (it’s the 58cm x 61cm one, the slightly larger one is the door). Bevel one of the front’s 61cm long sides to allow for a tight fit with the collector box. Then screw the whole thing, beveled side down, onto the front of the drying chamber.

Building a Solar Food DehydratorOnce the front is in place you can install the two of the remaining 4cm wide braces on the inside of the drying chamber: one right behind the front piece you’ve just installed, but sticking up around 2cm as this will hold the vent door; the other one at same height at the back, so that it will hold the door later on. Cut some of the insect netting to fit the vents and staple it onto the braces from the inside.

Step 6 – Shelf supports and roof

Now it is time to install the shelf supports that will allow you to put trays into your dehydrator. Cut out 22 40.5cm long pieces from the thin 1.5cm x 1.5cm wood and screw them onto the inside of your drying chamber. Make sure to install them with an approximately 2.5cm gap  in between to leave enough space for the trays (plus some stuff on the trays). Again, don’t forget to predrill your holes and use the small screws so they don’t stick out of the side of your dehydrator! You will also notice that the lowermost tray and support will have to be a little shorter because of the brace that is installed there.

For the roof you can use two 30cm x 76cm sized pieces of 2cm thick plywood with a 30 degree bevel on one side each (so they join at the top), which you will hopefully have lying around somewhere (if not you could also glue together scraps from earlier, but only if you’re really desperate). Simply screw the roof onto the dehydrator braces.

Step 7 – Legs and wheels

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4 Responses to “Solar Food Dehydrator”

  • First off I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question that
    I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.

    I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting
    my thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing however it just seems like
    the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any suggestions or hints? Thanks!

    • Hi Finley, thank you for your comment! I usually find that when I write about something I feel very confident or knowledgeable about the words just come by themselves. If you are struggling to organise your thoughts I recommend you write a brief outline with some bullet points that give you a loose structure on what you would like to write. You can then look back at your outline whenever you loose track.


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