Q: We are planning to build a steamer so we can enhance the color of our walnut, beech and cherry lumber. Because we will never use a steamer full time, however, we have decided to build a combination kiln/steamer. We plan to steam the lumber on stickers and then go immediately into the kiln schedule when steaming is completed. Any comments?
A: Because the environment in a steamer is so destructive on a kiln structure, I do not recommend building a combination. Build a separate steamer. The steamer building itself can be very simple and inexpensive.
I would never steam lumber on stickers, but would steam tight piled. The steaming will destroy the stickers after a few cycles and may also cause unusual staining in the lumber.
If you go to Drying Eastern Hardwood Lumber (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Handbook No. 528; pages 61 through 64), you will find some excellent information on commercial steaming, including pictures of steamer buildings and also steaming schedules.
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