2x4 project #3: Three to get ready...

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Blog entry by scottb posted 01-30-2008 03:58 AM 1359 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: second verse, same as the first Part 3 of 2x4 project series Part 4: behind the scenes »

and four to blow.

I spent the morning getting jiggy – had some bending to do, and though I didn’t use a jig the last time (the first and only time) I made one of these, I figured it would make things easier. So I cut up some MDF, stacked it double thick, took it to the bandsaw (got it stuck, and used a combination of handsaws, the tablesaw, and smaller bites with the band saw to get it shaped. (I believe the tension on the bandsaw was too loose – which I didn’t figure out until I was done – frustrating indeed!

I expected to soak my strips in the tub (as I had before) but realized that placing the strips over my largest (widest) skillet, with a lid and wrapped with tinfoil would suffice as a steamer… and likely work better, so tonight I did just that.

Some digging online reminded me that you steam 1 hour per inch, so …. 1/8th of an hour was all it’d take. Got them off the stove, and couldn’t bend them any more than when dry, so back on the stove for a few more minutes.

This is where things went awry. I burnt two fingers pulling off the lid (but didn’t really feel it until later), and though they bent better, the strips still cracked right across the middle. I suppose there wasn’t enough moisture in the wood to begin with. a pre-soak might have made sense in addition to the steam. I also didn’t realize how tight my jig was until I had to insert the pieces, and have a better plan for next time – if there is a next time.

so here i sit, typing painfully, with some nice Smooth kindling for tomorrows fire… and I’m wondering if I’ll think of a plan B in time. But with some of these outside of the box entries (as mine would have been – and still might be) the competition is going to be tough.

Next time I get over to my in-laws I’ll post the inspiration project as I’ve been unable to find a photo of the one that inspired both back at Canterbury Shaker Village (Berkshires, MA)

I had today free and spent about as much time in the kitchen as in the shop – and I only injured myself whilst “cooking wood”. Thank goodness for aloe – this steam burn stings.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

9 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35211 posts in 5010 days

#1 posted 01-30-2008 04:03 AM

That the way thing go in the kitchen. Burnt fingers.

Sorry to hear of your frustrating day.

-- 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 Ryan Shervill's profile

Ryan Shervill

278 posts in 4422 days

#2 posted 01-30-2008 04:05 AM

I feel your pain! (well…not the pain in your fingers)

My “vision” for my 2X4 was centered completely around bending my 2X4….and it took me two weeks of solid work and having to resort to ripping a stud out of my basement wall to finally achieve success. Every source I researched said that softwood will NOT steam bend….every time I read that response it just strengthened my resolve to actually pull it off. I figured the only chance I had to place well in this contest was to achieve the “impossible”. Well…I did….but trust me, it takes FAR too long, and WAY to much work to do it :)

If you ever want to try it again, check my blog for some helpfull tips.

Now…get back into the shop and make something pretty out of a 2X4!

-- Want to see me completely transform a house? Look here:

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4936 days

#3 posted 01-30-2008 04:10 AM

I had success with Aspen from the big box. must have been 1/4 inch as well… and that was only after a warm soak, no steaming. I suppose I could try to rip 1/16th strips. I do have another 2×4 to use – but it’s full of nails and will take a little bit of work to get safe for ripping.

Thanks for the advice Ryan, my back up plan was another bending idea. Maybe I should think along a different line.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4916 days

#4 posted 01-30-2008 04:18 AM

Bet you are really steamed. Sorry about the digits. Positive on the kindling though.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4936 days

#5 posted 01-30-2008 04:21 AM

kindling, or 30 handy foot-and-a-half rulers!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4770 days

#6 posted 01-30-2008 05:22 AM

take care of those fingers!!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4484 days

#7 posted 01-30-2008 10:55 AM

I have pretty much vowed never to try to bend a 2×4, nor any fraction thereof. Sorry about your burns.

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4491 days

#8 posted 01-30-2008 03:32 PM

I tried bending this stuff, and I failed. Hope you can recover both project and digits.
Please post your results no matter how it comes out.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4936 days

#9 posted 01-30-2008 03:59 PM

why do they warp so easily if left unattended, yet stand strong, unyielding if forced? – good news for our houses as they stand I suppose.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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