Johnnymike

Bending with steam easily

I was reading the topic 'bending with heat only' with great interest to learn some new methods

of bending planking. I will give it a try for sure.

 

I use steam now which is fairly fool proof and quite easy for a beginner like me.

I figured if it was good for the original boat builders it was worth a try.

 

I put together a vert simple steamer by buying an electric tea kettle I think for about $15.00

a few years ago. I just set it on the floor and slip a piece of scrap fiberglass tube over the spout 

turn the pot on and drop a few pieces of wood down the tube. I usually stuff an old rag loosely in the

open end to hold the steam in the tube. After only a few minutes the wood is up to temp and ready to bend.

You just need to be careful in handling the tube because it gets very hot but the wood is workable by hand.

 

I never let the pot unattended because I will hold the power on so the pot does not shut off when it starts to boil.

 

 

JMS

 

 

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Hm, for me it works without any extra jigs - I bend pear even with 3-4mm thickness by simply:

1) Boil a full kettle of water

2) When it is done - open the lid and dip the piece into the boiling water while it is still boiling. Of course, it is super hot inside the kettle, so use tweezers to hold the wood piece

3) Wait 15-20 sec

4) Done! Take the piece out, bend and clamp to shape

5) Wash the kettle and pretend you never did it in a first place

 

Super simple and no problems. Of course, it will be hard to do with long pieces, but super long pieces are typically out of scale anyway, right? :)

 

I found that for best results it is important to dip when water is still boiling. Maybe it is all that air bubbles and vibration that helps to relax the wood fibers? Just a guess..

At least experimentally - it works better than just dipping in hot water when bubbles are gone, and much faster then using steam.

Edited by Mike Y

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Thanks for your comments guys. I think we found that steam or boiling water work well for bending and is quite convenient.

We use the same method with different equipment because it is what we have to work with.

I don't have a accessible place to boil water so I had to find a compact design. 

 

JMS

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For some woods, and depending on the size you need to bend, it doesn't seem like you need boiling water.  Most of the time I just run hot water from the tap.  Usually, by the time I get the piece situated, the water is room temperature.  I boiled water for my first build's planks, but haven't noticed a difference just going with warm water on my current builds.  If you were bending tricky woods like ebony, you probably do need heat.

 

One thing to remember is that the wood may expand a little when soaked.  So, if you glue it right away when wet, by the time it dries, it might shrink leading to gaps.  I've been a little more conservative these days in soaking, pinning and letting the piece dry overnight before gluing just to be on the safe side.

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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I prefer dry bending by far, but sometimes soaking is a better way to go.  If that is the case, for me, steam and hot water is way too much work and too much wasted electricity. It provides no advantage over using cold water.  I use various lengths of  PVC pipe with one end capped.    I put in a few shaped pieces of wood n the tube and fill with distilled water.  I don't trust the chemicals in the tap water.  Tap water may not eat the lining of my stomach, but may have an adverse effect on the wood color or some such. I do have my priorities!  

  

Depending on the wood and thickness, it takes from a few minutes (holly) to an hour or so (pear and castello).  I usually put in a few pieces at the end of the day and they are ready by morning regardless of the type of wood.   I notice that most bob up as they float in the water in the pipe, so I will put an end cap on to hold them down.  When they are ready, they don't pop back up once the end cap is removed (and they often sink to the bottom.)  Once the pieces are all out and used, the water goes back in the jug for the next round.

 

Allan

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I use a wine bottle to soak the wood (empty it first, the white is ok but the red stains the wood) there is always one around and they are long enough to do long pieces. Then heat with a plank bender, the kind that in on the end of a soldering iron. Depending on the wood as little as ten minutes soaking does the job.

 

Mark

mtaylor, thibaultron and Canute like this

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