Bending wood.

Anyone with any experience bending solid(not ply) 3/8" wood to roughly 9" radius? Peice is 12-15" wide and 4 feet long. What's best? Elm? Green or air dried? Soaked, steamed or heated? Bend around a solid buck? This is to be basically unsupported in use(will have a base, but nothing else. Think "bucket seat" "U" shaped back fastened to chair seat - the long ends of the "U" being the armrest.
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On Sat, 02 Feb 2008 01:26:40 -0500, clare at snyder.on.ca wrote:

I'm going to get flamed for saying this. I read an article some years ago about bending wood in ammonia. The guy who wrote the article put wood/ammonia in a freezer for a while, pulled it out and with gloves on, bent that stick of wood by hand into a pretzel.
I tried it at the school I was at. I put a strip of oak in a sealed tupperware container, Dropped in my freezer for a day (24 hr). Took it outside, opened the container and with gloves on and the wood down wind I bent it into a tight horse shoe. I laid it on the ground with a brick propped on top and waited an hour or so. The wood held it's shape very nicely. The tannin (some) in the oak leached into the ammonia but the oak colour was actually very nice. I used household ammonia which is fairly weak stuff.
I always though that if I wanted to bend a large piece, I would make a clamping jig and use a long trough lined with plastic out side in the dead of winter to accomplish the same thing.
Do a search on wood bending. You'll find all sorts of ways to bend wood green or dry.
P
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Green ash, steamed for 1/2-1hr. Be quick when taking it from your steam box to bend it around the "U" form. Clamp. Make the "u" form a bit smaller than you want for the finished item as you will get some spring back. Cheers, JG
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@storm.ca says...

Agreed. Stay away from the gimmicky solutions (fabric softener, eg), and make a good steam box.
S.
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How about an autoclave at 170 degrees. Would that work? A friend has one for vulcanizing neoprene.
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You'll need a heck of a steam box--- and LOT'S of steam! I suspect white oak would work well, too. 3/8" thick wood is going to dry and cool pretty quickly, so you'll need to practice every move. They tell me that it's the heat that actually makes the wood bendable, but since the heat also dries the wood out, the steam is a good thing. It also helps transmit the heat into the piece. I wonder if, with this big a piece, you wouldn't be better off with a shallow tray that you could fill with really hot water and keep it hot for 20 minutes or so. I tried steaming some smaller pieces using my wife's fabric steamer and found it to be grossly inadequate. Ended up pouring hot, hot tap water over the piece while blasting it with my heat gun on high for 7 or 8 minutes... But that was only 3/4" square by 36" long.
Pete Stanaitis -----------------------
clare at snyder.on.ca wrote:

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telecom.net says...

I used the teapot, electric burner, and radiator hose to good effect. Someone left a wallpaper steamer at the house when we moved a few years back. I found it last fall and I've been wondering if that will generate enough steam to bend wood.
S.
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On Sat, 02 Feb 2008 01:26:40 -0500, clare at snyder.on.ca wrote:

Green wood bends easily. Ash have very good steam bending qualities. I have bent oak, walnut, and maple in a tighter radius than 9". Usually, I will rip thin (1/8") strips, steam them, set them into a jig to dry, then glue up a lamination. This makes a *very* strong piece.
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