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This project appeared in our July 1, 2006 Newsletter.


Like many of my projects this one was inspired by Marilyn who this time needed a replacement dehydrator for an old electric one she had that died. Her requirements were that it needed to be an air dry dehydrator that would keep the bugs out and would break down flat when not in use. By golly I believe I did it!

This project will give you a lot of experience in frame making. By the time you are done with it you will have made eleven frames. I got lucky because Marilyn already had the trays for the fruit to sit on so I didn't have to make those frames.

Everything is made out of 3/4" cedar cut 1 1/4" wide. Of course you can use any wood of your choosing but the cedar is light, lasts a long time and I like the way it smells. I don't know that the smell gets into the fruit at all but it's a nice thought.

Here's what you'll need:
(2) 6" X 8' X 3/4" cedar boards (5/8" actual thickness)
14" 1/4" dowel
(8) 10-24 X 2 1/2" steel hanger bolts
(8) #10 flat washers
(8) #10-24 wing nuts
Window screen
Wire brads/nails

Like I said, this is a project of frames. Build the following eleven frames:
(2) 14 1/2" X 21 3/8" - Front and Back
(2) 14 1/2" X 11 1/2" - Top and Bottom
(2) 20" X 11 1/2" - Sides (5) 13" X 11 1/4" - Shelves

You can join the corners of the frames any way you like but I used splined miter joints made with my handy dandy tenoning jig.

splined miter joint
Heavy-Duty Tenoning JigHeavy-Duty Tenoning Jig
Straight, angled or mitered tenons - this jig cuts it!..

Heavy-Duty Tenoning Jig

I cut a 1/4" miter in each corner and glued in a 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" X 1/4" spline. I clamped each frame as shown below. Be sure to square it up by measuring from corner to corner before the glue starts to set up.

Clamp Frames
Jorgensen Steel Bar ClampsJorgensen Steel Bar Clamps
Quick action grips bar anywhere...

Jorgensen Steel Bar Clamps

Trim off the splines on the table saw. Use a cripple to space the edge of the frame away from the fence to clear the splines.

Trim off Splines

Flip the frame over and trim the other side. Then rotate the frame 90 degrees and using the miter trim off the remaining two sides.

Trim off Splines
Sure-Loc™ Miter Gauge and Fence SystemSure-Loc™ Miter Gauge and Fence System
Rockler exclusive miter gauge features dead-on accuracy in 1-1/2° increments, a patented ''no-slop'' bar and aluminum fence. Includes Miter gauge, Tru-Trac™ bar, polymer handle, 22" ..

Sure-Loc™ Miter Gauge and Fence System

Next we need to build the sides. In hind site I should have put the screen between the shelf rails and the uprights. Instead I stapled it to the outside. I'd suggest you capture the screen between the shelf rails and the uprights.
Staple the screen to the inside of the frame.

Staple Screen

Cut the shelf rails 1 1/4" X 20".

Glue and nail them onto the frame. Start the bottom shelf 2 1/2" from the bottom to the TOP of the rail. Space all the other rails 3 1/2" from rail top to rail top.
Locate and drill four holes in the top and bottom frames. These holes will be 5/16" diameter by 7/16" deep. Wrap a piece of tape around the bit to mark the depth. The holes should be 5/16" in from the sides and 5/8" from the front and back.

Drill Holes

Mark the center of the holes on each upright using a dial caliper. I made mine a little different so I didn't have the full side frame together when I drilled these holes but you should.

Find Centers

Drill a 1/4" hole 3/4" deep in the center of each end of the side frames.

Drill Hole

Cut eight 1/4" dowel pieces 1 1/16" long.
Smooth the ends of the dowels and glue them into each hole.

Glue in Pin

Mark 3" in from each corner and 5/16" down on the front and back frames. These will be for the screws that hold it all together.
Clamp the dehydrator together and drill a small hole through the front and back frames into the top and bottom frames.
Disassemble the dehydrator and drill clearance holes for the 10-24 screws in the four pilot holes of each frame.
Drill four holes for the screws to go in on the front and back frames.
Screw the hanger screws into the four holes of top and bottom. Put two wing nuts onto the threads and jam them together to give you a grip to screw them in with.

Tighten Screws

Run the screws in until they just start to protrude from the other side of the piece of wood.
Cut and staple the rest of the screen on the insides of the top, bottom and both sides. I made the screen oversize and then cut along the pieces of wood.

Cut Screen

Clear out the holes in the screen on the front and back so they will go through the screws. I also cut the screen off the corners of the top and bottom.
Staple the screen onto the shelf frames and you are ready to assemble.
You should now be ready to go dry some fruit for those long hikes you plan to take this summer.

That's about it. We hope you liked this project. If you build it and your friends ask where you got such a clever idea, please tell them that you got it at

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