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    • CommentAuthorBlane Ryan
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2009
    I am interested in exploring bent wood projects using a steamer. Has anyone else tried this?
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2009
    As a former luthier and current airplane-builder, I've done a good deal of steam bending. It's remarkably easy once you get a few things through your head. (1) High-pressure steam is dangerous and does no good. All you need to do is keep the wood in a steam bath to get it warm. Less time for thin wood, more time for thicker wood. I found 45 minutes was just about right for 3/4"-thick cherry and ash. (2) Wood can be compressed about 24% of it's length, but it can only be stretched 2%-3%. You must compress the wood into the curve with a "bending strap." I've attached pdf file -- a page from one of my books -- that should help you get started.

    With all good wishes,
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2009 edited
    Nick - Thanks for the attachment - I recognize that page from "Woodworking Wisdom" - a great book. I really have learned alot from it.

    Blane - We steam bend oak in the boat shop where I work - we don't use a strap, just a bunch of clamps and straight cauls (or blocks if you like) and it works fine. I imagine a strap would be even better though. Here's a picture of a new bending form that we made this winter. The white oak in it is 5/8". We have a long steam box powered by an old beer keg equipped with a radiator hose and a propane burner from one of those turkey deep fryers - works great and is cheap to put together. I've also posted a picture of the oak coamings as they look when finished.
    I am also hoping to build some landing nets and have made this form for bending the ash for the hoop. You can see a piece of walnut at the bottom of the MDF form that serves as the handle. Alec
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2009
    Steaming is fun, but, make sure you pay attention to the grain. If the grain is too close to being perpendicular to the board (lengthwise) it will surely *snap*. Just pay close attention to that and you should have doors of creativity open wide for you.
    • CommentAuthorMatt
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    I make windsor chairs and steam bend all the time. One thing you need to learn first is kiln dried wood will bend but not anywhere as good a green red oak. I buy logs and split them to get perfect straight grain then work them into my final dimensions. I have successfully bent kiln dried poplar, white oak, ash, maple ,hickory, and red oak but it's hit or miss. With green red oak I am almost guaranteed a success everytime as long as you don't run into a knot. I do a chair called a countinuous arm and it has a double bend in it for the back and arms all out of a single piece of red oak. If you would like to see a picture of it go to my web site www. pine hill primitives .com
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