What to steam wood with?

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Forum topic by CartersWhittling posted 04-04-2012 03:09 PM 5540 views 2 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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453 posts in 3216 days

04-04-2012 03:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question wood steamer steam bending


I am trying to find a way to produce the steam for wood bending. Could you guys help me out and let me know the different ways you can produce the steam for a steam box? I am wanting something that doesn’t take up loads of space and doesn’t cost a lot of money either.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

19 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8787 posts in 3119 days

#1 posted 04-04-2012 03:29 PM

This may give you some ideas and good luck on your project.

Your hand made plans are awesome, keep doing the good work!

View Scot's profile


344 posts in 3938 days

#2 posted 04-04-2012 03:34 PM

Used professional wallpaper steamers work fantastic and are safe. I got mine on ebay for $175 (almost new). They usually run $200-300. I got lucky on mine and caught a better than usual deal.

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3029 days

#3 posted 04-04-2012 03:37 PM

I use a hot plate, some PVC pipe and an old stove top coffee pot. Total cost about $10 at yard sales.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View luv2learn's profile


2979 posts in 2845 days

#4 posted 04-04-2012 04:27 PM

I like this method DIY Steam Box

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

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1931 posts in 3232 days

#5 posted 04-04-2012 04:55 PM

Norm abrams has good example on an episode that he made a bentwood hat rack. Not sure of the episode name or number but I will try look it up when I get home.
It used a brand new gas can on top of a burner and some radiator hose and a large PVC tube with a cap on it.

View poopiekat's profile (online now)


4540 posts in 4276 days

#6 posted 04-04-2012 05:30 PM

I’ve got my eye on the side burner of my gas grille. The one for cooking a pot of corn on the cob, or lobstah. Plus it’s already outdoors. Should be more than enough heat for a pot of water and some stovepipe flue.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View a1Jim's profile


117746 posts in 4119 days

#7 posted 04-04-2012 06:04 PM

I use an electric tea kettle type steamer and a hose into a DIY steam box. Many times you can soak wood in hot water
and bend it if it’s thin enough or just use thin strips just glued together into a lamination with out heat at all.

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 4443 days

#8 posted 04-04-2012 06:09 PM

For my yew Windsor chair, I used a domestic wallpaper stripper connected to a length of rainwater pipe. The plastic pipe did go a bit limp! However, supported on a length of timber, all was well.

Click for details

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

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4592 posts in 4284 days

#9 posted 04-04-2012 06:21 PM

I’m with A1Jim – - -though it is hard to find a METAL electric kettle anymore.
Most are plastic with a thermal cutout, that shuts off at the most inopportune times…..

Check out the salvation army/DAV thrift stores see if you can find one of the old 1950-1970 era ones

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Jeff's profile


512 posts in 3736 days

#10 posted 04-04-2012 06:32 PM

I echo Scot’s wallpaper steamer idea. Although I use a Wagner steamer from Lowes. It’s cheaper. It depends on the volume and duration of steam you need. I have a 6” ABS tube, 4 ft long I use for relatively small pieces. The steamer lasts for about 45 minutes if started full.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3657 days

#11 posted 04-04-2012 06:55 PM

basicly you collect some water before you boil the water and use the steam from it …. LOL

okay joke aside :-)

the cheapest is to steal ….eeergh borrow moms stealkettle and leed the steam into
a steam bed made of wood and 1-1½ meter of cobbertube with holes and an endcap

there is several on L J that has made one and posted them as projects

you can use one of the modern kettles if you shortcut the thermo cuout
but then you have to be very carefull not to let it boiling dry….. you don´t want a fire
now your water is steam … lol

good luck with your steam project


View shipwright's profile


8399 posts in 3340 days

#12 posted 04-04-2012 07:06 PM

I used to use an oil fired pressure washer modified to dramatically reduce the water going through but I was steaming much larger things than I suspect you are.
One thing to think about if you are steaming many or thick pieces, is that hotter steam created under pressure will get the job done more quickly. I’m not sure exactly what the temperatures were that we used to run but 225 to 230 degrees sounds about right. We went by the appearance of the steam more than the temperature. You want it about ten degrees lower than the point where it becomes clear. That is if it’s nice and white, it’s not too hot.
Inch and a half Oak will be bendable in about half the time it would take at non-pressure temps.

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

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 3216 days

#13 posted 04-04-2012 10:00 PM

Thanks for all the help guys, it is much appreciated.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3465 days

#14 posted 04-04-2012 10:07 PM

I bought a wallpaper steamer at Goodwill for 10 bucks. Works good for thin strips(up to 1/4”)

-- Life is good.

View BobM001's profile


388 posts in 2872 days

#15 posted 04-05-2012 01:06 AM

I recall seeing a “rig” that used a large pot that the branch of a 12” 24 gauge tee was inserted into the pot. Then equal lengths of the same sized pipe wher inserted into the “run” sides of the tee. These pieces were long enough so that there was about 6” of void on each end based on the length of the pieces to be steamed. They were doing bent wood rockers as I recall. A short piece of “riser” into the tee branch would keep any liquid from contacting the wood if a hard boil was in process. The steam poured out of the ends of the pipes. Perhaps a turkey fryer burner/pot would make a good source for doing larger pieces. Find a reducer that would fit the top of the pot and build from there.

-- OK, who's the wise guy that shrunk the plywood?

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