Steam bending wood

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by willhime posted 07-14-2019 03:52 AM 429 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View willhime's profile


177 posts in 2554 days

07-14-2019 03:52 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jig question resource tip trick

I have to bend oak to a 16” radius into a C shape for a coffee table base. I’m doing some research I saw that some guys were using a wallpaper steamer jig. This appeals to me because I don’t want to keep refilling propane tanks everything I want to bend a couple 1/4” rip cuts. I’m wondering what the efficacy of this is. Is it enough steam to get the job done or too weak for this application ?

-- Burn your fire for no witness

3 replies so far

View runswithscissors's profile


3128 posts in 3040 days

#1 posted 07-14-2019 04:31 AM

It’s possible to do a bend like that with a heat gun. You need a bending strap, to wrap around the outside of the bend. Steel banding from the lumber yard’s dumpster works very well. You clamp one end with the bending strap in the vise, then the other ed with a C clamp. As you heat the wood, it will start to soften, and you will be able to feel it give as you apply pressure. The clamp not only gives you something to hang onto, but also allows you to control twist. I always bend by eye, but you can use a form. Keep in mind that there will be some springback. Keep working your way to the end, then overbend somewhat beyond your desired radius. You do have to be careful about scorching the wood.

If the wood cross section is very thick, steam will work best.

I’ve done this with 50 yr. old white oak, and no moisture required. It only needs a few minutes cooling, and then it’s set. If you bend too tight a radius, you’ll have to use heat again to unbend it.

Again, it’s heat. not moisture, that enables bending. The steam is simply a means of making the heat penetrate.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View therealSteveN's profile


7254 posts in 1589 days

#2 posted 07-14-2019 06:02 AM

Rockler is your friend

Prices for this item vary wildly. I got one a few years ago much cheaper. Last sale I saw it was 49 bux. You can make a PVC tube chamber, but they get way hotter than you need, and burns are a possibility. They suggest a plywood box, it gets plenty hot enough, and I’ve never gotten burnt from steam. I do wear gloves though because it makes the wood hotter than I want to bare hand. Fun, pretty easy to do. Building the jig to form the shape is a lot more work, and it’s pretty easy too. LOTS of clamps, especially for a C. Whatever you do, you will get some spring back.

-- Think safe, be safe

View jdh122's profile


1225 posts in 3832 days

#3 posted 07-14-2019 11:54 AM

I use a wallpaper steamer (Wagner Power Steamer) with a screw-together plywood box. It woks well and certainly provides enough steam. One thing I have learned is that the hose is really too long, especially when steaming in cooler weather, so I make sure the hose goes well into the box.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics