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. 

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.