Steam bending

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 10-16-2011 02:38 PM 4618 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4541 posts in 3103 days

10-16-2011 02:38 PM

Normally, when I think of steam bending (which I have never done) I think of a rigged up outdoor apparatus with a fire, boiler and a pipe that is used for steaming wood.

Then it occurred to me. We use a steamer on the kitchen stove to cook a few different foods. If I wanted to steam bend a small piece of wood, could I steam it in that same steamer?

I’d like to steam bend some thin strips of wood to make what would look like a curled ribbon.

Has anyone ever tried steaming wood in a kitchen steamer? Any advice (other than do it when my wife is away and clean up before she gets home)?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

15 replies so far

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2951 days

#1 posted 10-16-2011 02:49 PM

Rich: I’ve done some bending but not on the stove. I’d try it. What can you be out but a few small pieces of wood.
I borrowed a wall paper steamer from (LJ)Camper and built a box and it worked pretty good. I have since found a Wagner wall paper steamer at Goodwill,almost brand new, for $20.00. When I found it, I was looking for a big tea kettle to use on the 5th burner of my gas grill. It really doesn’t take much.

-- Life is good.

View 489tad's profile


3370 posts in 3040 days

#2 posted 10-16-2011 03:14 PM

I thought about it. So I took our big pot and unscrewed the knob on the lid. A fitting could be attached to the lid. Fitting to hose, hose to steam box, steam box to drain in the sink. I think it would work.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

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7836 posts in 3332 days

#3 posted 10-16-2011 03:20 PM

hey there rich , good subject to bring up, yes what you are talking about would work very well, if you have a pan that has a tight enough lid to hold most of the steam , then it will work very well, i have a stainless stell pan that i bought originally for smoking foods, and it has a wire rack in it as well, something like this for you would work for what your asking about, you might look around in yard sales and the like and maybe find one your wife would not mind you using for wood work, would like to know how it worked for you, but i know it will work, make sure you steam the wood well, you know the larger the piece , thickness and the likes, you need longer steam time, just a few pointers….have fun…oh i wanted to ask how your wife’s father is doing, take care

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3193 days

#4 posted 10-16-2011 05:50 PM

You own a pressure cooker Rich? How about one of the big canning pressure cookers? My mother used the pressure cooker for a lot of stuff. We were poor, and pressure cookers saved on gas or electricity, and the meal cooked faster.

Oh well. Don’t know a thing about this topic, but thought the pressure cooker approach might work.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View shipwright's profile


7995 posts in 2826 days

#5 posted 10-16-2011 06:18 PM

Hi Rich

Maybe I can shed a little light here. I’ve done a lot of steam bending, all large to very large stuff but the bottom line is that the main reason we use steam is for convenience. It is simply not convenient to toss fourteen foot long boat ribs or larger planking in a pot of water. It is however easy to do so with small pieces so If I were doing it I would just toss them in boiling water like pasta and check occasionally until the pieces were “done”.

It’s also harder to “overcook” the wood in water.

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

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2131 posts in 3773 days

#6 posted 10-16-2011 11:09 PM

I agree with shipwright. Also if you use green or non kiln dried wood, you’ll have better results.

View sras's profile


4812 posts in 3157 days

#7 posted 10-17-2011 12:33 AM

I’ve done the boiling water thing before as well. I have even done longer pieces in the bathtub. I have had success with thicknesses less than 1/4”. Never tried anything thicker.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View bent's profile


311 posts in 3697 days

#8 posted 10-17-2011 01:03 AM

it works on the stove, i’ve done it.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2950 days

#9 posted 10-17-2011 02:41 AM

No bending involved in this bow. Cut on a scroll saw. The bending I have done( Not this) I have done cold using 1/8” ply after soaking overnight in water.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View BENTWOOD's profile


373 posts in 1810 days

#10 posted 10-27-2013 04:56 PM

I am only experienced with thin wood veneers I cut 1/32”-1/64” thick but stove, microwave and pressure cooker all work for veneers. Ultimately it depends on what size, type and thickness of wood being used. If very thin veneers and small quantity I would suggest you make some wood pasta with a stove pot. :)
Pressure cooker will work better for stubborn and/or thicker woods.


View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3784 days

#11 posted 10-28-2013 12:24 AM

I’ve bent some thin pieces using one of those “expandable” steamer devices- they look like a space reflector from a James Bond movie and a large shallow “dutch oven” covered pot.

An inch or so water in the bottom put a lid on it. All my pieces were short enough to fit into the pan and lay on the steamer platform. Worked for what I needed.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3922 days

#12 posted 10-28-2013 01:10 AM

many times

the application of thought to a desired result, if only ending in failure, can end in a very happy day

as weird as that sounds, its true

bending things, be it the rules or a piece of wood, is time well spent on things that matter.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3922 days

#13 posted 10-28-2013 01:18 AM


this thought always perplexed me

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3922 days

#14 posted 10-28-2013 01:21 AM

thoughts ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3922 days

#15 posted 10-28-2013 01:30 AM

u need a special person to make life work

boil them, steam them until they give up

then bend them at your leisure

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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