Bending wood

Hi I am hoping to avoid making a steamer and have been experimenting with wrapping wood strips with wet towels and tin foil and baking them in the oven. Has anyone else ever tried this? I have had some success but would like to hear some input from knowlegeable sources.
Thanks Chris
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Chris, how big are these pieces you want to bend? What sort of wood are you bending?
I bent white ash ribs for the cradle boat I built for my newborn son. They are only 3/16" thick. Since they were short enough to fit in the kitchen sink, I put them in there and filled the sink with a combination of water boiled in a kettle and hot tap water. To prevent the ash from floating I weighted them down with a large pot. They were quite pliable after about 30-40 minutes.
I removed the strips one at a time and ran to the shop to bend the strips into the boat. I could tell that by the time I got to the shop which isn't that far away, the strips were already starting to stiffen. More soaking would probably helped that.
I think by the time you got your wood unwrapped from the foil and towels the wood might start to cool and dry before you can get the pieces bent into place.
Here are couple of links to pictures of the cradle if you're interested.
http://www.woodshopphotos.com/albums/Dave-R1s-Album/insidefinish.jpg
http://www.woodshopphotos.com/albums/Dave-R1s-Album/cradle.sized.jpg
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Sorry Dave I should of mentioned. I am using oak which is about quarter inch thickness by 2-3 inches and and maybe 16 inches long. I wonder about the soaking that might be very easy to do in my rain barrel. Thanks for you input Chris Dave wrote in message

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Chris, you should be able to do your bending after soaking for no more than an hour. If you can find something waterproof that is long enough and also heat resistant, I would use boiling water to soak the peices in.
I bet you could get 16" long pieces in the kitchen sink if they go in diagonally.
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I built a really "High Tech" steamer once. :-) Scroll about halfway down to see it: http://the-wildings.com/shop/furniture/rocker /
I think what you are describing will work as well though.
--
Joe in Denver
my woodworking website:
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Unless you are talking about strips for model making, it won't work. And if you are making the strips that thin, you are probably better off doing a bent lamination.
It's the steam you need, and at about 1 hour per inch of thickness, baking them won't cut it. Since you are talking about putting them in the oven, they are clearly small pieces. I've built ship models by soaking the thin wood strips in a bathtub. If you do that, you can avoid the whole baking issue, just soak the strips, then bend them in whatever from you have. SInce the strips are small, even string would make a good clamp.
Another possiblility is is having a heated pipe (you could heat it with a torch, holding the pipe of whatever diameter in a vise) and slowly bending the strips that way. I havent done that, but I've seen Phil Lowe do it for inlay borders, and it is quite effective.
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DarylRos wrote:

with
the
baking them

Ah, but he's wrapping them in wet towels then baking them, in the towels. That does steam them.
Another possibility would be to soak them and iron them onto a form using a steam iron.
(Somewhere) I have a violin-making brochure that describes a process for bending the thin wood for the sides. It calls for drawing the pieces accross a heated metal dowel, bending a little with each pass. I do not recall if the instructions called for soaking the wood first, probably so.
--

FF


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Soaking works, as does boiling. I have even used a wallpaper steamer hooked to a plastic bag with the wood inside. Whatever the method, It helps (for hardwood at least) to work with air dried stock. If your stock will fit in the oven, the tub may be the easiest solution. Leave it in the water for days if thats what it takes! Dave
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hooked
I made a rounded front edge for a bathroom basin a few years ago. It was made out of 3/4" plywood which bent easier because of the plys, but it should as well work for most domestic wood.
I cut a number of kerfs in the back of the wood and then soaked it overnight in the bathtub. It bent like a wet noodle the next morning. A couple of days of drying and then I glued some arborite over it.
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Have had great success soaking in the bathtub for an hour or more depending on thickness. Also helps to add a bit of dish soap or laundry soap to water. Not sure why just have allways done this.
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wrote:

That will work, although not as good as a steamer. Steamers are not all that hard to make. The big "trick" is this: After removing the wood from the intense steam you have 30 seconds to bend it. Use leather gloves and have everything setup, all planned and ready to go.
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