Box Food Dehydrator

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Introduction: Box Food Dehydrator

Inspired by the Food Jammers, these are plans for a food dehydrator based on the one they used to dehydrate a turkey.  Mine will mostly be used for fruits and jerky but you can literally dehydrate anything with it and if you have access to a junkyard and thrift stores you can find a lot of the major supplies for cheap making the whole project less than $30. 

Step 1: Tools and Supplies


Tools
Circular/ table saw - not really needed if you have a lumber yard that will cut to size for you
Power drill
Wire cutter

Supplies
Plywood- preferably 3/4 in thick. I used 1/2 in and it worked fine though
metal racks- For the shelves, I went to a local recycling center. They were nice enough to let me dig through their pile of appliances and random metal. There I found 5 racks out of old ovens and had them cut down so they were all similar sizes. they sold me all five for a $1 so I couldn't complain with that.
light sockets
wall plug in
wire- i used 12 guage, probably could use something smaller
cabinet hinges
some type of closing mechanism- I took a metal clamp off an old grill that works great to hold the door closed
small fan - You can usually fine these for cheap at any thrift store
light bulbs

optional
wire mesh- I live in an area where there are a lot of bugs, therefore I put mesh on the air holes to keep them out

Step 2: Cut Wood Panels

Figure our the size you want your dehydrator to be and cut the panels to size.  Mine ended up being 19" by 16" because that was the size that fit my shelves.  I left the height a 4' so I wouldn't have to cut down the plywood from it's original size.  The leftover wood I used to cut feet and holders for the shelves.

Step 3: Assemble Box

In hindsight, I should have placed the shelf holders on the panels before assembling.  Use screws to assemble the box. and use the hinges to attach the front door panel.  It might be easier to drill you air holes before assembling as well.  The largest drill bit I had on hand was 1/2" so I drilled five 1/2" holes in the top panel and 5 holes on a bottom corner of the back panel for circulation.

Step 4: Wire Light Sockets


The only experience I had with wiring was from high school when I took home maintenance, which is basically none.  I asked my local hardware stores if they had any tips and they all said they couldn't tell me anything for liability purposes.  After looking around for tips online, I figured that would try using a daisy chain pattern.

This is a pretty basic wiring set up.  Having little to no experience in this I will describe it the best I can.  Starting from the wall plug in, connect the black and white wires from the plug in to short pieces of black and white wires respectively.  For the rest of this I'll just talk about one wire but it's the same for both the white and black.  To the short wire you connected to the plug in, using a twist on wire connector connect two short wires.  One of these will go to your first light socket, the other use another twist on wire connector to connect 2 more wires.  One of these goes to your second light socket and the other goes to the third.

I'm not good at describing this kind of thing but I hope the pictures help.

Step 5: Put It All Together


Place the lights and fan in the base of the box.  I use 100W light bulbs and when I did a test run without the shelves the box held at 125 degrees Fahrenheit .  I placed shelved 6" apart but you could do closer for more shelves.  Right now I have watermelon and pears in mine.  most fruits from what I have heard will take 24+ hours but I'm still experimenting.  Good luck and enjoy!

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    42 Comments

    They made it illegal to make incandescent bulbs in Canada so I would recommend a halogen lamp as they give off a lot of heat.

    Good artcile :)

    Love this project. It's a giant Easy Bake Oven.
    My question is what happens when they stop making incandescent bulbs?
    No more dried food :(

    Go to a farm supply store and buy one heating bulb that they use for keeping baby chicks warm.

    These work well - www.coneheater.com

    They are NOT going to stop making incandescent light bulbs. They have already developed incandescent bulbs that meet the efficiency standards. Yes we will pay more for them like we already pay more for cars that meet fuel economy, emission, and safety standards.  Many dry food without using electrical power at all, with using dryers that have a screen enclosure that allows natural air circulation.

    From what I read, they are eliminating them for the general public. Companies can still get them.

    Get a FIN, and your set.

    Instead of the light bulbs you could use Halogen Lamps they have a lower efficiency when it comes to heating but those are not banned yet.

    where the heck do you live where a white wire in a home is a ground? Green is ground and white is hot

    Wrong again. Black = Hot | White=Neutral | Green=Ground

    1. I question the use of plywood (just a little) but this is an easy fix. Just line it with foil and you should be good (be sure to seal all gaps).

    2. They may be getting rid of these bulbs, but this eis simply the way to create heat. You can simply put an electric griddle in place of the bulbs... Or a heating element, or a hair dryer... Anything that creates heat. Simple fixes for the doubters in the comment section here.

    3. Not a handy-man kind of person? Get yourself an old, non-working fridge and hook it up in the same manner as you would this box. Hook that up to a fire pit and you have a smoker too.

    This is a fantastic instructable, thank you so much for posting!!!