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Plastic Pipe Steam Chamber test #2

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Project by wuddoc posted 01-16-2009 07:53 PM 9681 views 18 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Steam Chamber Test #2

My woodshop buddy Rick and I have been asked to make some circular attaché style cases for carrying presentation materials. To create the circular case edge we have in the past used the cross saw kerf method described and illustrated in the Bending And Laminating chapter of Cabinetmaking and Millwork ©1988 by John L. Feirer. We are looking for an easier method to bend the wood.

We are still looking for a non-disposable steam chamber and in this test we tried a 3” diameter schedule 40 plastic pipe. At the same time we used four minute J-B Weld to secure the kettles top as in the first test it leaked too much steam. Prior to sealing the lid we filled the kettle to just below the spout as seen from the inside. This came to 48 fluid ounces of water. Now we could seal the lid knowing that 48 ounces would not overfill the kettle.

All the fittings were taken from the failed chamber we had conducted in Test #1. To install the fittings each hole required was tapped. Using clear silicon for the adhesive the brass fittings were installed. The pipe was sealed at one end using a silicon adhesive on the end cap. The other end cap was attached using springs so if the steam pressure got to high the cap would loosen. A ¼” drop per foot was achieved using wood of various heights. Radiator clamps attached to the wood allowed us to secure the pipe and keep it from rolling. Finally ¼” dowel rod stock was inserted to create shelves and those in turn were sealed with silicon at the drilled dowel hole locations in the pipe.

The test was begun and after 45 minutes steam appeared. The test was allowed to run for an additional 90 minutes. The hot plate was turned off and the kettle finally cooled down after sitting overnight. The remaining water was poured into a measuring cup and we found 24 ounces remained. This tells us that we can probably run the steamer with this kettle safely for 160 minutes without damaging the kettle.

The rule of thumb on steaming hardwood is one inch of thickness to one hour of actual steam. With several pieces of wood in the chamber on the shelves each time we open the cap to remove a piece of wood considerable steam is lost. The 160 minutes allows the steam to build back up in the chamber quickly and the wood left on the shelves to stay flexible until the next piece is removed.

We did discover that gloves were needed to remove the cap and take out the hot wood in the steam. We also discovered our drain tube was not large enough for removing the condensate. There was so much water that it started coming out the elevated removable cap end. We have now installed a ¼” ID flexible clear plastic drain tube.

The plastic pipe did not get hot enough to sag but it did distort around the band clamps and they had to be retightened. Reading about plastic pipe in our ever present McMaster Carr catalog we discovered most plastic pipe has a maximum recommended temperature of 200ºF. There is a one that is labeled PDVF allows for temperatures up to280ºF but the maximum diameter is only 2” and a 5 foot length is over $330.00.

-- Wuddoc





18 comments so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2744 days


#1 posted 01-16-2009 07:56 PM

Why are you using plastic?

Bob

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View wuddoc's profile

wuddoc

51 posts in 2441 days


#2 posted 01-16-2009 08:10 PM

Bob #2

Good question and thanks for asking.

Expense and reuseable. We have even thought about using gutters glued together and may still try it.

To me it’s fun to try different methods to accomplish your goal. I have always told students that you can never go wrong with experimenting. I had one former student try this with an old electric hot water heater that he cut the top off of and it worked for him.

T. A. Edison and the light bulb is always a good example when students complain.

Thanks again for asking.

-- Wuddoc

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2744 days


#3 posted 01-16-2009 08:21 PM

I think my personal choiCe would be galvanized pipe with standard end plugs.
It’s pretty available at most plumbing suppliers and allows several diamensions and limitless lengths.

Last summer I was paying 20 bucks for a 10 foot length of 6” spiral tubing.

Bob

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View LesB's profile

LesB

1078 posts in 2166 days


#4 posted 01-16-2009 08:55 PM

This and your other experiment #2 sounds like something a high school shop teacher might let the kids try to teach them about designing effective shop made tools. I agree with DaveR and add that marine grade plywood would probably be another good choice. Of course any metal fabricating shop could make a sheet metal box in short order at relatively low cost.

-- Les B, Oregon

View jefft's profile

jefft

9 posts in 2141 days


#5 posted 01-16-2009 10:00 PM

We have one made out of a piece of downspout for the smaller stuff and one made out of plywood for bending pieces up to 10’ long. Our larger one we use to bend frames and other large items and we tend to keep it going hours on end. We have a large beer keg on a large burner. The keg holds enough water to steam just about all day long. For stuff we just use a tea kettle.

View F Dudak's profile

F Dudak

342 posts in 2533 days


#6 posted 01-17-2009 12:17 AM

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/9592

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

View BarryW's profile

BarryW

1015 posts in 2629 days


#7 posted 01-17-2009 01:28 AM

I was thinking about the making of a steambox the other day and how I’d do it…whoa…here are two ideas and very simple projects…thanks for showing us the details…great ideas…nothing like “still learning.”

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View wuddoc's profile

wuddoc

51 posts in 2441 days


#8 posted 01-17-2009 02:15 AM

Great ideas everyone. Yes this will be offered to several Alabama high school shop teachers but only after it is “Kid Proof” meaning no one can get burned or scalded and a lesson plan is developed.

-- Wuddoc

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2744 days


#9 posted 01-17-2009 02:28 AM

I wish you had mentioned it was for a kiddies project.

If you need to “kid proof” a piece of gear then maybe that’s not the right stuff to be working with.

I like to see them grow up at their own pace rather than have their world adjusted to fit the parametesr of the insurance companies.

I can’t see for the life of me why a kid going to school has to deal with anything that has a potential risk involved.
That is a responsibility of their parents.

Bob

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Karson's profile

Karson

34902 posts in 3123 days


#10 posted 01-17-2009 03:33 AM

I’ve also seen green pipe at plumbing shops. I had a piece one time I picked up in a ditch and it was 18” diam and about 1/2” thick It was storm sewer material I believe. The green pipe is a lot thicker than the PVC you purchased.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View wuddoc's profile

wuddoc

51 posts in 2441 days


#11 posted 01-17-2009 05:12 AM

Karson:

Thanks for suggesting the green pipe. This gives me an idea because any city or county utility department may have a cutoff or broken piece laying around. You have a good eye for dimensions. A half inch thick could be a schedule 80 or a special schedule such as 160. This would not get as hot due to the wall thickness. The exhaust system for our vacuum pump at the lab is schedule 80 in PDVF due to heat. I always assumed it was the PDVF pipe but maybe it is the wall thickness. I am going to check it out next week.

Thanks again.

-- Wuddoc

View Jimthecarver's profile

Jimthecarver

1122 posts in 2508 days


#12 posted 01-17-2009 05:50 PM

The green pipe is what i was going to ask about. I have access to a 12”X20’ piece they are wanting to get rid of. Making end caps dont seem to be a problem but I was wondering if the rubber caps would work on the ends or does it need to be ridgid?
And also how would a guy reclaim the water as to put it back into the kettle so the run time w/o running out of water would increase? Maybe some sort of check valve….hmmmm!
I am going to build one of these but want to get the kinks worked out first.
Any help would be greatfully appreciated.
Thank you,

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

536 posts in 2204 days


#13 posted 01-17-2009 11:17 PM

I used PVC for my steam bender with one of those spot steam cleaners to generate the steam needed. I works very well and I was able to bend 3/4” white oak to a radius of about 2 and a half feet.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2409 posts in 2161 days


#14 posted 04-26-2009 08:17 PM

Do you need steam under pressure? if so use a pressure cooker it has the relief valve built in that will release pressure if it gets too high. Also, for bending wood. I bend wood for guitars. I have a metal tube about 5” in diameter and 10” long mounted horizontally on a stand and capped off with sheet metal. I light a propane torch and let it burn inside. I let wood soak in water over night with a little dishwashing liquid in it. It softens the fibers. The next day as I bend it over the pipe the water in the wood steams and lets the wood bend. It also pretty much steams out and the wood is dry in a couple of days after. Of course this is with 1/8 inch or less wood.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2409 posts in 2161 days


#15 posted 05-01-2009 03:06 PM

In Nick Engler’s book he describes a steam chamber made of wood. According to him it needs to be tilted with a hole so condensed water can run out and it should not be under pressure. “The goal is to steam the wood not cook it.” Also he says that you have to have a steam entrance to the box every 24-36” along it and that the wood can’t be touching other wood or the walls of the chamber. A larger steamer would produce a higher, steadier volume of steam.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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