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Project by F Dudak posted 08-30-2008 06:24 PM 21691 views 23 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello All,

This is the steam box that I use to bend the parts for the chairs that I am building. This box is quite a bit longer than it needs to be for my parts but I’m fine with that. I was just going from memory and pics of the steamer that was used at my classes which was shorter( 8’) and had a smaller diameter pipe(4”). Apparently my memory isn’t so good any more. I used a 10’ X 6” piece of schedule 80 PVC for the body, put a regular PVC 6×6x4” T in the middle and coupled it down to 1-1/2” to accept a piece of radiator hose which is connected to the water vessel. I use a propane camp stove for heat. The bolts that I ran through have a piece of conduit around them so as not to transfer metal marks to the wood during steaming. They are situated up at about half the diameter of the pipe. One end has a glued threaded fitting and the other end is a loose cap not glued. The pipe is pitched about 1/2” over its length and a 1/2” hole is drilled on the low end to allow excess water to escape. This was not cheap to build but I feel I will eventually recoop the cost in chair sales.

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

24 comments so far

View WhattheChuck's profile


467 posts in 4902 days

#1 posted 08-30-2008 06:26 PM

Hi Fred,

Are those vents running laterally along the pipe?

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View F Dudak's profile

F Dudak

342 posts in 5152 days

#2 posted 08-30-2008 06:31 PM

Hey Chuck,

Those are bolts that I had laying around so they are quite a bit longer than they needed to be. I did make the holes so that the bolts fit loosely so a minimal amount of steam does escape there.

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 5045 days

#3 posted 08-30-2008 08:11 PM

Great job!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 5127 days

#4 posted 08-30-2008 08:40 PM

Nice Idea! Thank you for posting this, it will come in very handy in a future project.
How long do you steam the pieces and how long after steaming do you have to work with them?
Thanks again,

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Bigbuck's profile


1347 posts in 5005 days

#5 posted 08-30-2008 10:03 PM

Very nice, looks simple and usefull.

-- Glenn, New Mexico

View F Dudak's profile

F Dudak

342 posts in 5152 days

#6 posted 08-30-2008 10:44 PM


I am by no means an expert on wood or the amount of time that is required to steam certain species of wood, there is plenty of info out on the web to help you out with that. The pieces that I have steamed so far were red oak about one inch in diameter. It took anywhere from 30-45 minutes to get them soft enough to bend. This may vary depending on how much steam you produce. As far as how long you have to work with the wood, make sure that you have everything you need handy before you open the steam box. This will aide in making the transition from the box to the bending form smooth.

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5641 days

#7 posted 08-30-2008 11:09 PM

A very nice set up.

This should last you for many years, & it won’t take up much space for storing it.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 5061 days

#8 posted 08-30-2008 11:10 PM

You look like you are ready for some serious production now. I think you’ll be able to bend more than a few pieces in that set up. What I really want to see now is a photo of you splitting out that big red oak log – that’s some real work :) Good luck with the chairs.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4926 days

#9 posted 08-30-2008 11:31 PM

Are you not supposed to cover the pipe with insulation to prevent heat loss? Thats what I have always seen to date however your set up looks like a sensible approach that can be used again and again whenever needed regards Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5742 days

#10 posted 08-30-2008 11:57 PM

How big is your galvanised can and how long do you get steam from that setup.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View F Dudak's profile

F Dudak

342 posts in 5152 days

#11 posted 08-31-2008 12:44 AM


The wall of this pipe is thick enough that insulation is not required. I don’t have to keep this steamer going for very long to get the parts I need soft enough to bend.


The can is 5 gallons and there is a wood cork with a hole in the top for a funnel if there is a need for more water.


I really don’t mind the log splitting. The part that bothers me right now is having to borrow my brother’s dump truck to go pick up the logs that I score. I will have to purchase a dump trailer in the near future.

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

View FJPetruso's profile


334 posts in 5051 days

#12 posted 08-31-2008 06:06 AM

That’s a real hot set-up.

-- Frank, Florissant, Missouri "The New Show-Me Woodshop"

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 5216 days

#13 posted 08-31-2008 12:01 PM

Looks like a very well made set-up. Are those bolts just to keep the wood off the bottom of the steam chamber?

View EEngineer's profile


1139 posts in 4955 days

#14 posted 08-31-2008 03:51 PM

One thing I’ve never understood about steaming wood is the fact that you are adding moisture to it. After all the concerns I’ve read about drying wood enough to woork with it, it seems that steaming it would be going backwards. Do you have to kiln-dry the wood again after steaming and forming? Is there a minimum amount of time to wait after steaming and forming for the moisture content to lower again before you work it? Will it ever retiurn to the moisture content you had before steaming?

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View stanley_clifton's profile


196 posts in 5045 days

#15 posted 08-31-2008 05:32 PM

I have to have one of these, so I hope you don’t mind me favouriting your project.

-- Stanley generally struggling

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