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Solar food dryer hangs up, folds away.

Drying fruits and vegetables couldn't be much simpler than with this easy-to-build solar food dryer. The three-tiered dryer is made of wooden frames fitted with nylon insect screening, providing a 1-1/2-inch-deep drying space from nylon cords; when not in use, it folds compactly.

The dryer shown here was designed and built for about $10 by Sara and Carl Tighe of Tempe, Arizona. To build one like it, you'll need five 8-foot-long 1 by 2's, 4-1/2 feet of 36-inch-wide nylon screen, one package each of #6 tacks and 3/4-inch brads, and 28 feet of 1/4-inch nylon cord. You'll also need a hammer, saw, and rill.

Cut the wood into 24 pieces, each 18 inches long. Make half-lap joints in each end of the wood (see diagram). Assemble frames as shown; check for squareness and nail together with brads.

Cut screening into six 18-inch squares, fold the edges under 3/4 inch, and secure with the tacks, starting at the center of each side of the frame and working towards the corners.

Stack screened frames in three pairs, and drill a 5/16-inch hole through frame pairs in each corner, 1 inch in from the edges.

Cut four 7-foot lenghts of cord and tie a knot at one end of each piece. Pass the ends upward through the holes of what will be the bottom pair of frames. Tie another know in each cord 15 inches from the top of the first set of frames and slip on the next set. Repeat for the top set, then gather the loose ends together in a knot or loop for hanging.

To use, lift top frame of each pair by sliding it on the cord. Place food on lower frame, close, and let dry in the sun. When food is dry, remove it and rinse screens.
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Date:May 1, 1984
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