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Steam bent clock

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Project by DaleMaley posted 11-18-2016 06:15 PM 1253 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This has been one of my most challenging woodworking projects, because of figuring out how to steam bend white oak.

I bought the steamer from Rockler 4 years ago, and had one heck of a time trying to bend white oak. I finally gave up and put the steam stuff away. A while back, I noticed an article saying that freshly cut white oak allowed to air dry to 20% moisture was optimal for steam bending. 2nd best was air dried white oak…....and the most difficult was kiln dried white oak. The high temp of the kiln damages the lignin. But, if you have to use kiln dried white oak, you can steam bend it if you soak it at least 1 week in water and Downy fabric softener.

I soaked a bunch of 1.5×3/8×28.5 inch long white oak boards in a piece of 3” Sched 40 PC with an end cap glued on the bottom for 7 days. I made a new fixture using the process development knowledge I learned back in 2012 (amount of springback, and reduction in final diameter). A miracle happened, and I was able to successfully bend about 6 pieces.

If you would like to read about my Trials & Tribulations on this project, and there were many…see my woodworking web site.

To change batteries, you pull out the front assembly, which has 1/4” dowel pins to the back face.

I used a oil based teak stain with satin polyurethane, two coats.

I made two of them. I’m keeping one, but the other will be a family gift.

Lee Valley has an excellent booklet on steam bending, you can download a copy here.

I uploaded my design to Google Sketchup warehouse, and you can get it here.

Thanks

-- Dale, Illinois, http://dalemaley.webs.com/





10 comments so far

View DaleMaley's profile

DaleMaley

289 posts in 1696 days


#1 posted 11-18-2016 06:21 PM

Here is an exploded view of my design….....

-- Dale, Illinois, http://dalemaley.webs.com/

View fivecodys's profile

fivecodys

581 posts in 1097 days


#2 posted 11-18-2016 06:58 PM

That is really cool Dale!
I have never tried steam bending but this makes me want to give it a try.
Thanks for sharing it with us.

-- Chem, Central California

View DaleMaley's profile

DaleMaley

289 posts in 1696 days


#3 posted 11-18-2016 07:06 PM

Thanks!

If you decide to give steam bending, be sure and read the Lee Valley booklet. Also try to learn from my mistakes that I posted on my woodworking web site.

When I bought the steamer, I thought, “Just build a wood steaming box, throw the boards in, and bend them in a form”. Silly me. The things I have learned include:

-use a bending strap. You can make one yourself, or buy one from Lee Valley
-it will take trial & error to figure out how to make the bend form, with respect to controlling springback, and achieving the bend diameter you want.
-soak the kiln dried wood at least 1 week in water and Downy fabric softener before you bend it
-use a thermometer, so you know when you have hit 212F in the box, and you start your timer
-wear gloves handling the steam wood, taking it out of the box, and bending it
-don’t seal up your steaming box. You want it to release some steam and water, so you don’t build pressure
-after bending, don’t put the piece in the oven to try to dry the wood quicker. Your bends will open back up!!

Good Luck!


That is really cool Dale!
I have never tried steam bending but this makes me want to give it a try.
Thanks for sharing it with us.

- fivecodys


-- Dale, Illinois, http://dalemaley.webs.com/

View pottz's profile

pottz

900 posts in 445 days


#4 posted 11-18-2016 08:13 PM

very nice design dale i have done some bent lamination but have never tried steam bending before,might have to give it a try.thanks for the tips your frustrations will help many avoid their own,great work.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View ralbuck's profile

ralbuck

1968 posts in 1727 days


#5 posted 11-18-2016 08:31 PM

It is a very well designd and built clock!

Inspirational!

-- just rjR

View majuvla's profile

majuvla

9118 posts in 2328 days


#6 posted 11-18-2016 08:45 PM

Pretty daring project. Although it has modern elements it still reminds me on old timer classic clock designs. I mean it in positive way.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View DaleMaley's profile

DaleMaley

289 posts in 1696 days


#7 posted 11-18-2016 09:28 PM

Thanks!

Now that I think I have figured out how to steam bend white oak successfully, I will keep my eye out for other designs I can modify for more steam bending projects in the future.


Pretty daring project. Although it has modern elements it still reminds me on old timer classic clock designs. I mean it in positive way.

- majuvla


-- Dale, Illinois, http://dalemaley.webs.com/

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23127 posts in 2327 days


#8 posted 11-18-2016 09:29 PM

This is a beautiful clock. Nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

5042 posts in 2608 days


#9 posted 11-18-2016 11:54 PM

Well, despite all the mayhem bending it, this clock turned out beautifully! I’m sure you get a lot of satisfaction seeing it every day, and I’m sure whomever receives the other one will as well!

-- Dean

View Dave Dufour's profile

Dave Dufour

271 posts in 1439 days


#10 posted 11-19-2016 12:41 AM

That is one awsome.
Great job.

-- Dave, from Canada, http://simplywoodproducts.ca

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