All Replies on What to steam wood with?

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View CartersWhittling's profile

What to steam wood with?

by CartersWhittling
posted 04-04-2012 03:09 PM

19 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8187 posts in 2571 days

#1 posted 04-04-2012 03:29 PM

This may give you some ideas and good luck on your project.

Your hand made plans are awesome, keep doing the good work!

View Scot's profile


344 posts in 3390 days

#2 posted 04-04-2012 03:34 PM

Used professional wallpaper steamers work fantastic and are safe. I got mine on ebay for $175 (almost new). They usually run $200-300. I got lucky on mine and caught a better than usual deal.

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2481 days

#3 posted 04-04-2012 03:37 PM

I use a hot plate, some PVC pipe and an old stove top coffee pot. Total cost about $10 at yard sales.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View luv2learn's profile


2763 posts in 2297 days

#4 posted 04-04-2012 04:27 PM

I like this method DIY Steam Box

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2685 days

#5 posted 04-04-2012 04:55 PM

Norm abrams has good example on an episode that he made a bentwood hat rack. Not sure of the episode name or number but I will try look it up when I get home.
It used a brand new gas can on top of a burner and some radiator hose and a large PVC tube with a cap on it.

View poopiekat's profile


4354 posts in 3729 days

#6 posted 04-04-2012 05:30 PM

I’ve got my eye on the side burner of my gas grille. The one for cooking a pot of corn on the cob, or lobstah. Plus it’s already outdoors. Should be more than enough heat for a pot of water and some stovepipe flue.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3571 days

#7 posted 04-04-2012 06:04 PM

I use an electric tea kettle type steamer and a hose into a DIY steam box. Many times you can soak wood in hot water
and bend it if it’s thin enough or just use thin strips just glued together into a lamination with out heat at all.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 3895 days

#8 posted 04-04-2012 06:09 PM

For my yew Windsor chair, I used a domestic wallpaper stripper connected to a length of rainwater pipe. The plastic pipe did go a bit limp! However, supported on a length of timber, all was well.

Click for details

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3736 days

#9 posted 04-04-2012 06:21 PM

I’m with A1Jim – - -though it is hard to find a METAL electric kettle anymore.
Most are plastic with a thermal cutout, that shuts off at the most inopportune times…..

Check out the salvation army/DAV thrift stores see if you can find one of the old 1950-1970 era ones

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Jeff's profile


433 posts in 3189 days

#10 posted 04-04-2012 06:32 PM

I echo Scot’s wallpaper steamer idea. Although I use a Wagner steamer from Lowes. It’s cheaper. It depends on the volume and duration of steam you need. I have a 6” ABS tube, 4 ft long I use for relatively small pieces. The steamer lasts for about 45 minutes if started full.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#11 posted 04-04-2012 06:55 PM

basicly you collect some water before you boil the water and use the steam from it …. LOL

okay joke aside :-)

the cheapest is to steal ….eeergh borrow moms stealkettle and leed the steam into
a steam bed made of wood and 1-1½ meter of cobbertube with holes and an endcap

there is several on L J that has made one and posted them as projects

you can use one of the modern kettles if you shortcut the thermo cuout
but then you have to be very carefull not to let it boiling dry….. you don´t want a fire
now your water is steam … lol

good luck with your steam project


View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2792 days

#12 posted 04-04-2012 07:06 PM

I used to use an oil fired pressure washer modified to dramatically reduce the water going through but I was steaming much larger things than I suspect you are.
One thing to think about if you are steaming many or thick pieces, is that hotter steam created under pressure will get the job done more quickly. I’m not sure exactly what the temperatures were that we used to run but 225 to 230 degrees sounds about right. We went by the appearance of the steam more than the temperature. You want it about ten degrees lower than the point where it becomes clear. That is if it’s nice and white, it’s not too hot.
Inch and a half Oak will be bendable in about half the time it would take at non-pressure temps.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 2668 days

#13 posted 04-04-2012 10:00 PM

Thanks for all the help guys, it is much appreciated.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2917 days

#14 posted 04-04-2012 10:07 PM

I bought a wallpaper steamer at Goodwill for 10 bucks. Works good for thin strips(up to 1/4”)

-- Life is good.

View BobM001's profile


388 posts in 2325 days

#15 posted 04-05-2012 01:06 AM

I recall seeing a “rig” that used a large pot that the branch of a 12” 24 gauge tee was inserted into the pot. Then equal lengths of the same sized pipe wher inserted into the “run” sides of the tee. These pieces were long enough so that there was about 6” of void on each end based on the length of the pieces to be steamed. They were doing bent wood rockers as I recall. A short piece of “riser” into the tee branch would keep any liquid from contacting the wood if a hard boil was in process. The steam poured out of the ends of the pipes. Perhaps a turkey fryer burner/pot would make a good source for doing larger pieces. Find a reducer that would fit the top of the pot and build from there.

-- OK, who's the wise guy that shrunk the plywood?

View Tomj's profile


204 posts in 2376 days

#16 posted 04-05-2012 03:47 AM

The hot plate, steam pot and metal duct pipe works great. I have done this with building bows. With bows if the wood is green (still wet) use wet heat (steam) if the wood is dried use dry heat as in a heat gun, fire etc. This works for radical bends in wood up to 3/4” inch thick. With steam you could straiten whole staves (log splits) when wet. The wood you are bending needs to be of strait grain though otherwise it is likely to fracture where the grain runs off. Steaming and heat straitening is a common thing when building bows, I know for boat building too though I have not built any boats. If you look up either or I’m sure you will find plans that won’t break the bank. The kits you see woodworking companies selling seem awfully small to me and expensive for what they do. You could even use a pot on a stove with foil over the top to keep steam in if it’s just a small section you are bending or if it’s small enough (unless you have a very big pot) just boil it for about an hour (it depends on how thick it is) the thicker the longer. Native Americans would boil rocks or lay them in a fire until hot enough to place on whatever wood they needed to bend, or they would just hold their wood over the fire and do it that way. Good luck.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3739 days

#17 posted 04-05-2012 04:09 PM

This is the rig I use After welding a new bottom on the can several times, I going to switch to the regular lobster pot that came with the cooker, and make a wood top with a slot the width of the steam box. The box will sit right down on the pot.

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2792 days

#18 posted 04-05-2012 11:23 PM

I just added a blog entry about making pressurized steam and a simple steamer that will do it.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View benchbuilder's profile


284 posts in 2444 days

#19 posted 04-05-2012 11:37 PM

I have written a blog here about the wood steaming system I designed and I give out free 26 page sets of plans and drawings for it at:
Its free, give it a look

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