I have seen these little electric steamers on TV that are advertised
for cleaning. They have 1000W supplies. While checking on the
internet I found others that would generate steam continuously for 1
The alternative is a small steam kettle on a burner that would then
fill your pipe for bending.
Having never done wood bending, then I would like to know what
everyone uses and how long you need continuous steam?
First note: got to www.leevalley.com and search up their booklet on steam
Probably as many ways of producing steam as there are woodshops. I use an old
electric hot plate, a large kettle, and keep the steam flowing for about 45
minutes for 1" thick wood. Most wood seems to get brittle if you over-steam it.
"The function of posterity is to look after itself." Dylan Thomas
I don't steam bend very often, so I have never invested in anything very
elaborate. I have a picture of the setupI use on my webpage:
There is a picture in the middle of the page that shows the setup. It is not
too fancy, but it works.
Joe in Denver
my woodworking website:
Don't know if it reaches Tom's yet, but that is a wonderful project, done with
great forethought. I'm looking forward to the matching set.
"It is not strange... to mistake change for progress." Millard Fillmore
I used a kettle purchased at a Goodwill store with the neck fitted
into a metal tube that connects to a aluminum pipe. I covered the
pipe with fiberglass insulation and secured it with wire. The kettle
is heated by a gas Fisher burner, although a portable electric plate
should work fine. The end of the tube is loosely stuffed with a rag.
Have leather gloves, steam burns hurt!
Here's my method....
I move the wood into the living room where SWMBO is watching the tube.
I wipe the wood down with a damp sponge.
Then I say something like: "Gee, you've packed on a few pounds over
the winter, no?"
Just takes a minute or two and that wood's steamed and ready to bend
any way I like.
Steam wallpaper stripper to generate the steam (duh!) and a length of 3"
plastic drainpipe as the steambox, loosely plugged at both ends with rags to
prevent heat escaping. Incline the pipe to allow condensed water to drain
to the bottom. I don't do that much bending, so this works fine for small
batches or one-offs. You need to steam it long enough to allow the heat to
penetrate right through - I give a 1" stick an hour or so. If you have to
refill your steamer during this time, do so from a freshly-boiled kettle or
Note that however hot you get your item there will always be a slight amount
of springback after the piece is released from the form in which it was
clamped to cool. So overbend by 5% or so.
Green timber bends best, followed by air-dried, followed by kilned. Some
species are better for bending than others, ash being a prime example.
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I just jumped into steam bending a couple days ago. I made up some plans
and had a friend who does heating & air conditioning make me a rectangular
container about 4ft long x 8in wide x 8in tall out of duct metal. It has a
metal mesh rack about 3" off the bottom that goes the length of the unit.
In the center of the bottom is an opening for hose, and above the hole is a
"defuser" (a cover with lotsa holes in it) that runs the length of the
unit). One end of the unit is permanently covered, while the other end has
a tight fitting door. There is a water drip tube down the far end. The
unit sits on two ski-like legs that elevate it about 4 inches off the saw
horses. I keep it tilted a couple degrees so the water will run towards the
The steam source is a wallpaper steamer (Wagner - I paid about $50 Canadian
or so). I only fired it up once the other day to "test it" and it works
pretty good - I bent a small 3ft scrap of cherry (basket handle style). It
worked very well. The temperature seems to top off around 190 - 200 degrees
I pulled my test piece out after about 20 minutes of steaming. Seemed ok.
I'll play with it some more before I attempt to make some shaker oval boxes.
most espresso machines have a steamer, and you can attach a hose to it to
get the steam where required. cant say from experience its the best for
bending wood, but it works great for steaming glued guitar necks off.
I went down to Wal-Mart (Forgive me please) and bought their turkey frier
for $35. It has a burner that supports a 5 gallon bucket. I then got a
metal 5 gallon bucket and poked a hole in the top for the steam to escape.
The hole is the same as the od of 1/2" cpvc pipe.
I then have a peice of 6" PVC that I put my wood in. The peice of 6" PVC is
connected to the 5 gallon bucket with a peice of CPVC.
I use the thermometer that came with the turkey frier to know when the
temperature reaches 212 degrees F. Then I start the clock.
I bent my first 4 peices of wood the other day.
I now have a cooker that I can use whenever I'm not steaming wood. It made
it easy to justify getting the turkey frier, let me tell you.
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