My $12 steamtube

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Blog entry by roaddog posted 02-20-2010 07:57 PM 2622 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is my high tech steambox setup. The cedar strips for the canoe are easily bent over the forms but the laminations for the stems at each end of the boat need to be steamed to be bent around the stem molds. I did a little test run last night to make sure my PVC pipe wouldn’t melt on me when I actually steam the wood. I scored the teapot at a thrift store for $6 and the PVC pipe was $6 at the local lumber store. I already had the burner and a few cans of butane in the garage. For the test I just shoved some rags in the top and set the pipe on the spout of the teapot. Before steaming the stem laminations I am going to put a little block of wood on the bottom for the strips to rest on and secure the top a little better. I was thinking of trying to use a funnel on the bottom so as the steam condenses it will drip back down into the teapot instead of the ground. It makes pretty good steam even outside on a cold night so should work great when it’s in the shop.

Once bent the stems are laminated with epoxy. I was all excited and made a run to a marine store on the waterfront for some epoxy and found that I was going to have to wait a while. The epoxy and hardener for the whole boat is about $150. I thought they might have a small kit just so I could glue the stem laminations together but if you want less than a gallon of epoxy the price pretty much doubles. Rather than spend ~$70 for a quarter gallon I’ll wait and spend the $150 on a whole gallon. I’m hoping I can sell the lumber rack taking up precious floor space in my shop for a decent price to help pay for the epoxy pretty soon.

A bigger view of the steambox

-- Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh

5 comments so far

View KMJohnson's profile


165 posts in 3045 days

#1 posted 02-20-2010 07:59 PM

Interesting information.

-- Let's do it in the wood pile!

View Dwain's profile


533 posts in 3883 days

#2 posted 02-20-2010 08:31 PM

Great stuff. I, like others will be following your work. Good luck. By the way, couldn’t we call that a steam tube?

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View roaddog's profile


29 posts in 3045 days

#3 posted 02-20-2010 09:01 PM

Haha. Yes I suppose it isn’t really a box. Steam tube it is. :)

-- Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh

View Australiancanoe's profile


4 posts in 3130 days

#4 posted 02-21-2010 06:44 AM

I used a similar set up for my stems. works great. I got a buddy to help me at this stage. It helps to have an extra set of hands on the clamps. Leather work gloves is a good idea too so you don’t get burnt.

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4425 days

#5 posted 02-26-2010 03:13 AM

Im going to try steam bending some day. If for nothing else than just to try it.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

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