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Steam Bending, Need some informed help

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Forum topic by mtenterprises posted 777 days ago 1397 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mtenterprises

817 posts in 1319 days


777 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: steam bending maple rocking chair bending wood tip trick question

Share some skill with me.
Within the next week or so I’m going to try some simple, I hope, steam bending and I would like advice from those who are more expert than I am. I understand the basics the hows and whys. I read some articles on how to do it but I guess what I need is what to expect. I have built my steam cabinet and the 2 molds needed though I’m not sure the molds are correct.
This is the project, a Boston rocker made from hard maple had 2 broken spindles one of the back outside spindles the heavier one and one of the secondary thinner ones. Both have a slight bend to them. The thin one should be easy. The thick one is what I’m concerned about.
1 – How long do you steam hard maple? 1 piece about 1 1/8” in diameter and about 24 +/- ” long. And 1 piece about 5/8” diameter about the same length.
2 – How soft will the wood get? Just springy or like a limp noodle.
3 – How long do I have to wait untill the wood takes the set of the mold?
4 – If it doesn’t work the first time can I re-steam the same parts or do I need to turn new ones.
5 – Should the mold be made to over bend so the wood will spring back to the proper position? O should I just slip in a small wedge to over bend it?
Impart your wisdom upon me teach me inform me.
Thanks in advance.
MIKE

-- See pictures on Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/44216106@N07/ And visit my Facebook page - facebook.com/MTEnterprises


13 replies so far

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Loren

7394 posts in 2274 days


#1 posted 777 days ago

It’s been quite awhile for me since I did any steam bending,
but my general hunchy answers would go something like

1 – probably at least an hour.
2 – slightly springy
3 – maybe 72 hours
4 – You can resteam and try again
5 – yes. How much you need to overbend varies with thickness, species, cut and the bend itself.

You’ll get best results if you can select wood that has minimal run-out. Chamfering
edges can help minimize blow-ups on the corners.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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mtenterprises

817 posts in 1319 days


#2 posted 777 days ago

I did select the straightest grain with no run out both pieces are already turned and ready to attempt bending. By slightly springy do you mean like a green branch? So if these dry/cure and they are not quite the bend I need then I can re-steam and bend again and insert a wedge to try to get things right. If I have to steam for a minimum of an hour is there a possibility of over steaming or would that be better, to steam longer?
MIKE

-- See pictures on Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/44216106@N07/ And visit my Facebook page - facebook.com/MTEnterprises

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tenontim

2131 posts in 2371 days


#3 posted 777 days ago

Mike, the general rule is 1 hour per inch of thickness, so about an hour for the pieces you mentioned.
The wood will just get springy. If you have green or non kiln dried wood, you’ll have about 15 minutes to work with the wood. If kiln dried, you’ll have about 15 seconds. The quicker you get the piece bent and clamped in the mold, the less spring back you’ll have. You do need to make the mold tighter than the desired finished radius.
I usually leave my steamed pieces in the mold about 3 days. If you need to re-steam, it’s ok.

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mtenterprises

817 posts in 1319 days


#4 posted 777 days ago

I’m becoming more encouraged about this. This could be quite an interesting learning expierance.
MIKE

-- See pictures on Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/44216106@N07/ And visit my Facebook page - facebook.com/MTEnterprises

View Loren's profile

Loren

7394 posts in 2274 days


#5 posted 777 days ago

I don’t think oversteaming is likely to be a problem with the
bends you are doing. With much tighter bends it can matter
and in that case you’d need to use a backing strap. When
bending tighter curves with a backing strap system
oversteaming can lead to compression failure in the inside.

Get the piece clamped in the mold as quick as possible and
then you can hit it with compressed air to set the bend –
I learned this from a luthier so he was doing it with much
thinner sections but he did say it would set the fresh
bend quickly.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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MrUnix

473 posts in 825 days


#6 posted 777 days ago

I’ve only steamed oak for making water skis, so keep that in mind.. we steamed the wood for at about 24 hours, but we are talking about a larger piece than you are working with (over an inch thick and about 7-8 inches wide). It came out stiff but bendable enough to not crack or snap when clamped in the form.. no wet noodles there. The form we used had more of a bend than desired as it will spring back a bit after you remove it from the form. We let it sit in the form for about a week, although that was more because of schedule than anything else.. it probably didn’t need that long. I have never tried it, but I don’t see why you should not be able to re-steam and bend if it doesn’t work out the first time.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View Rick's profile

Rick

6454 posts in 1659 days


#7 posted 777 days ago

This might be of some assistance. There are also a few Dozen More on the Right Side.

http://youtu.be/7pNWI1dcbg4

-- COMMON SENSE Is Like Deodorant. The People Who need It Most, Never Use It.

View Tomj's profile

Tomj

204 posts in 1008 days


#8 posted 777 days ago

I would say at least an hour to be safe and yes over bend by about 1/3 the bend (I think is the rule of thumb). I usually deal with no thicker than 1 1/2” when steaming staves for bows and that is pretty thick. You could always steam again like it was said above. Good luck and just have fun.

View mtenterprises's profile

mtenterprises

817 posts in 1319 days


#9 posted 777 days ago

Ok maybe this isn’t going to be as hard as I think. Thanks for the help guys it might be a week or so before I get to trying this but I’ll post my results here after I’m done.
MIKE

-- See pictures on Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/44216106@N07/ And visit my Facebook page - facebook.com/MTEnterprises

View Rick's profile

Rick

6454 posts in 1659 days


#10 posted 774 days ago

Look forward to seeing them.

-- COMMON SENSE Is Like Deodorant. The People Who need It Most, Never Use It.

View mtenterprises's profile

mtenterprises

817 posts in 1319 days


#11 posted 774 days ago

Getting everything ready to go SOON. But I still have one question, if I have to steam the wood for an hour how much water is this going to take? Or will I just have to keep adding water? I’d like to do it with one filling so that it doesn’t cool down but I’ll do what I have to.
MIKE

-- See pictures on Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/44216106@N07/ And visit my Facebook page - facebook.com/MTEnterprises

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tenontim

2131 posts in 2371 days


#12 posted 774 days ago

My steamer will boil off about a gallon in an hour, so use at least that much.

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mtenterprises

817 posts in 1319 days


#13 posted 773 days ago

thats what I was thinking but wanted a confermation.
MIKE

-- See pictures on Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/44216106@N07/ And visit my Facebook page - facebook.com/MTEnterprises

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