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.
Chris, how big are these pieces you want to bend? What sort of wood are
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
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
Dave wrote in message
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
I bet you could get 16" long pieces in the kitchen sink if they go in
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.