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Steam Bending Question

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Forum topic by DMiller posted 01-17-2018 04:25 AM 1045 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DMiller

419 posts in 645 days


01-17-2018 04:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question steam bending guitar building shaping modern

Tomorrow I’m planning on purchasing a steam bending kit from Lowe’s….https://www.lowes.com/pd/Wagner-Power-Steamer-715-Wallpaper-Steamer/1000158631, which is very similar to Rockler’s kit. I will be buying an adapter to attach it to my steam box. (It is actually a wallpaper remover, but the same concept and $30 cheaper.) (Many thanks to Tennessee for the idea and help he has given me.) My main question is, is it a problem to use plywood for the box? Or is it better to stick with pine? My main concern with plywood is that it would warp when it comes in contact with steam…what are your thoughts? It will be primarily used for bending guitar sides. Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks! Dale

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."


22 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3819 days


#1 posted 01-17-2018 04:39 AM

You don’t need a steam box to bend guitar
sides. I would advise against it actually.
Excessive moisture on wood bent without
a strap weakens lignin bonds and causes
grain blowout on the outside of the bend.

My steam boxes for bending furniture parts
are made of pine. I think plywood would
work but expect delamination with use. The
pine boxes get ugly looking pretty quick too.

For guitar sides I’ve used a bending iron and a
spray bottle.

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

1846 posts in 2488 days


#2 posted 01-17-2018 05:59 AM

I use cheap, exterior grade plywood. The boxes get screwed together with regular wood screws. Don’t bother trying to seal the box or anything. There’s too much moisture for that to work. Just let it air out well after you’re done steaming and it’ll hold up for dozens of uses. Eventually the screws will rust and the plywood will fall apart but that can take years.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View Andre's profile

Andre

2126 posts in 1978 days


#3 posted 01-17-2018 06:55 AM

Would using marine grade plywood make a difference?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

1042 posts in 2989 days


#4 posted 01-17-2018 10:49 AM

I made a box from plywood and have used it with no problem. I don’t expect it to last forever, but given how little time and money I have into it I don’t see the problem. The plywood doesn’t warp (I’d expect pine to warp more, not less). I started out with two thrift store electric kettles but pretty quickly switched to a wallpaper steamer, which works great.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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dhazelton

2789 posts in 2468 days


#5 posted 01-17-2018 01:42 PM

What about PVC lumber and stainless steel screws? If you want it to last and you only want to build it once….

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Lazyman

2559 posts in 1559 days


#6 posted 01-17-2018 01:57 PM

I just recently steam bent some really long pieces and just used some 6”x 5’ steel ducts for my steam box. You can also use an 8” duct if you need something a little bigger. I just plugged the ends with towels and ran the hose from the wallpaper steamer in from the end before sticking in the towels. I also covered the chamber with towels to help insulate to retain more heat but you could also just buy a double walled chimney pipe instead. The only “construction” was to cut 2 small pieces on the bandsaw to act like a cradle so it doesn’t roll around. I just used a couple of scraps to raise/hold the wood up off the bottom of the pipe. Worked like a charm and when done, I just stand it on end in a corner of the shop so it doesn’t take up much space either.

EDIT: I just looked at the prices on the double and triple walled stove pipe and it is crazy expensive so I’d stick with plain old ducting with towels for insulation.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

401 posts in 2172 days


#7 posted 01-17-2018 02:00 PM

I’ve used an old piece of plastic PVC pipe and a tea kettle, but only becasue I’m cheap, not becasue I had any idea what I was doing or how it should be done.

-- Ted

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PPK

1178 posts in 981 days


#8 posted 01-17-2018 02:15 PM

My steam box uses exterior grade plywood. It has not delaminated, and I’ve used it a fair amount. It does NOT have to look pretty. Just hold heat. In fact, I wrapped mine in foam board, (duct taped it on!) and that really helped to get the temp up. It runs at about 200 degrees F. now. Steam bending it fun. Best of luck!

Oh, BTW, Lee valley has a nice resource for steam bending. I’ve linked it below.

https://www.leevalley.com/us/html/05F1501ie.pdf

-- Pete

View DMiller's profile

DMiller

419 posts in 645 days


#9 posted 01-17-2018 02:58 PM

Thank you all very much for your help regarding this subject. Loren, I really wish I could afford a bending iron, I would be without a doubt buying one if I could afford it. Thank you for your advice. Pete, thanks for the link, it is helpful. Thank you all again for your help! Dale

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2341 posts in 1394 days


#10 posted 01-17-2018 03:23 PM

I’ve seen several bending irons on some of the offshoot TV shows. One used a propane torch blowing through a section of steel pipe, the other used a 300 watt light bulb inside a steel pipe on a dimmer switch. He ended up with the dimmer set to about 50% (150 Watts I assume). Claimed it took about $20 in parts and hardware.

View DMiller's profile

DMiller

419 posts in 645 days


#11 posted 01-17-2018 04:36 PM


I ve seen several bending irons on some of the offshoot TV shows. One used a propane torch blowing through a section of steel pipe, the other used a 300 watt light bulb inside a steel pipe on a dimmer switch. He ended up with the dimmer set to about 50% (150 Watts I assume). Claimed it took about $20 in parts and hardware.

- splintergroup

Thanks splintergroup. I have thought about using a torch and pipe; my main concern is being that I am 15, my parents may have some concern about me using a torch. Also, some of the bending irons I have seen cheap were: 1. 220v which I don’t have access to; and 2. Were coming from China
As of now I may just stick to attempting a steam box as it is my cheapest route as a beginner.
Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it. Dale

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3819 days


#12 posted 01-17-2018 04:42 PM

You might be better off investing in a
“guitar heating blanket”. They’re only about
$50 on ebay these days. Many users probably
use them with a Fox side bender but I think
they can be used without one successfully.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3819 days


#13 posted 01-17-2018 04:46 PM

.

View DMiller's profile

DMiller

419 posts in 645 days


#14 posted 01-17-2018 04:56 PM



You might be better off investing in a
“guitar heating blanket”. They re only about
$50 on ebay these days. Many users probably
use them with a Fox side bender but I think
they can be used without one successfully.

- Loren

Thanks Loren.
I looked fairly extensively into heating blankets; especially on eBay. The only problem I have is most of the reasonable ones the seller does not seem very trustworthy. I have read of them overheating and burning up fairly easily; that is the cheap ones. Another reason is I purchased a decent amount of parts for my guitar build from eBay and had a problem with a dishonest seller; I really don’t want to lose my privilege from purchasing from eBay from my parents. Thank you very much for your help, Loren. Thanks, Dale

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2559 posts in 1559 days


#15 posted 01-18-2018 08:04 PM

If you decide you need some bending straps for steam bending, a cheap way to make your owns is with a roll of steel flashing. you can get a 6” x 10’ roll for under $10 at home depot. Get some tin snips and cut to the width and length that you need and attach some wood blocks at each end with some short screws. Use some leather gloves while cutting it to keep from slicing your hands and use a file to deburr the edges.

For guitar making, a bending iron sounds like the way to go. Here a video for making one on the cheap using a halogen or incandescent light bulb and a bulb socket like you would get to repair a lamp ( buy an old lamp at a garage sale). You just need to find a piece of pipe of appropriate diameter. You just need a short scrap of pipe so check with local metal supplies or welding shops. If you tell them what you are doing, they may let you have it and weld it for you cheap or even free.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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