steam bending!!!!

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Blog entry by Davesfunwoodworking posted 01-10-2013 06:04 PM 4107 reads 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Okay this will be part 2 to my bending goof ups. LOL!!!! So more info is needed. I thought every one knew what I was building. LOL!!!!! I am working on building a wine rack that will be curved in the front as well as the back. I am using air dried walnut most of it is 30 + years old. I will add some pictures as I go. Here is the info 36 inch long by 2 1/2 wide. I am steaming for about 1 hour at 212 or so. My first few did not bend right I think it may have been the steam box wasnt getting over 180. I think it may have been due to not having it sealed good. Any way I have now got 2 good bends out of it.

So far so good! I will post more pictures as I go along. Any one that has any ideas or sees something I may doing be doing wrong please speak up and dont be shy. I am moving past straight boards and moving around the curve!! LOL!!! Thanks for any and all help. David

-- Davesfunwoodworking

5 comments so far

View Dave G's profile

Dave G

337 posts in 3163 days

#1 posted 01-10-2013 11:26 PM

You seem to be lucky. I found that I needed a compression strap on the outside of the bend to keep the outer fibers from breaking. Maybe your radius is gentle enough. Look carefully on the outer surface for cracks and tears. Also, I had to make a counter form so I could quickly make the bend and hold it. Otherwise the wood cooled while I twiddled all the clamps. I stuck the whole thing in a bench vise and cranked one handle down to make the bend. Finally, I had to figure out a couple stays that could be screwed onto the newly bent pieces so I could remove them from the jig and bend another. Without some time held, they would spring back too much. I can send some pix if desired. I ended up with very good results.

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

View Davesfunwoodworking's profile


278 posts in 4990 days

#2 posted 01-10-2013 11:34 PM

Hey Dave pics would be great! I noticed that on one board I did today has a few places where the grain has come apart and popped upwards. Not bad I should be able to sand them down.

-- Davesfunwoodworking

View Dave G's profile

Dave G

337 posts in 3163 days

#3 posted 01-11-2013 12:52 AM

Dave I posted some pix here:

If you do nothing else, try the compression straps. They’re dirt cheap from HD. I cut the blocks on the ends of the straps so the whole thing just fit the blanks. I don’t know if one strap would have worked on my small pieces but I thought complete coverage of the outer fibers was needed and they were cheap enough.

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 3782 days

#4 posted 01-11-2013 02:08 AM

Nice to see you steam bending also.
It is a somewhat frustrating process ,just ask me but there is lots of help available on the net and you may contact SHIPWRIGHT ( Paul) here on LJ’s he has lots of experience in this skill. I started making steam bent boxes some time ago and went through some failures along the way and still don’t have access to air dried or green wood like Dave G but I am getting good results almost consistently with kiln dried lumber which is hardwood flooring .
I use a micro wave oven process which involves soaking the Wood in water for a day os so and then wrapping it in a wet towel and heating it in the MV for about two and a half minutes .
For the bending I made a jig as in the pics ,two length of cog belt with blocks attached and a impact wrench to apply tension .
I also clamp the piece during the bending process,this makes it very quick and as Dave G mentions the strap is very necessary to keep the wood from stretching as wood will crack when stretched but will compress and give nice results.
The strap should cover the complete outside surface ,I learned this as I tried to have the cog belt with the cogs against the wood and found that the wood would crack in the areas where the belt was not making contact with the wood .
I will use a sheet metal strap on my next jig.
Here is the first steam bent box I made .

-- Kiefer

View shipwright's profile


8727 posts in 3913 days

#5 posted 01-11-2013 02:25 AM

You are doing a great job and your steambox looks very good.
I wouldn’t worry too much about the box being really well sealed but if you can pressurize your steam to get it hotter your results will improve.
With the radius and size pieces you are using you shouldn’t need straps on the outside but you can prevent corner splinters from happening by easing the corners with a little chamfer before steaming. Also a coat of linseed oil before steaming will help the bending and hold the heat longer.
Just some thoughts… you’re doing fine all by yourself.

I have done some bending myself.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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