Steam bending question.

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by WilliamPRussick posted 06-17-2013 07:13 AM 3167 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View WilliamPRussick's profile


2 posts in 1799 days

06-17-2013 07:13 AM

Topic tags/keywords: steam bend lumber wood outdoor hammock

I have a few questions about steam bending wood.

I have a plan to make an amazing hammock stand that’ll go into the ground a undetermined depth.

I plan on the beams being 4×6 (I love that big look) and I’m a bit fearful of the dangers of bending treated lumber, since it’s going to constantly be outside I figure it needs some kind of protection.

Is it dangerous to steam bend treated wood?

I know steam bent wood wants to naturally go back to it’s natural straight form, would that be bad in the weathers?

Would it be better to just laminate bend the beams myself?

What do you think is better bending method?

What kind of lumber should I use, how should I treat it?

A little help from the pro’s would be great, thank you.

7 replies so far

View ChrisK's profile


1959 posts in 3075 days

#1 posted 06-17-2013 04:25 PM

I have never steam bent wood,nut I have built laminated beams. I would think the equipment needed to bend a 4×6 beam would be huge. The laminations I used were only 3/8 plywood about 6 inches wide and bending more than one or two at a time required several large clamps. I would think the steam time would be quite long, if you can even steam a piece that thick.

Making the beams from laminated pressure treated wood and a poly glue will be messy but will work.

-- Chris K

View dannelson's profile


193 posts in 2364 days

#2 posted 06-17-2013 04:41 PM

Never happen. bent laminations only , thin strips cut over sized on the width. good poly glue with a long open time, a heavy duty jig. LOTS of clamps. Id stay away from treated and think of maybe cypruis .

-- nelson woodcrafters

View Loren's profile


10371 posts in 3641 days

#3 posted 06-17-2013 05:24 PM

You may have success bending laminates up to about 1”
thick by pouring a lot of boiling water on them and
coaxing them to shape. Boat builders sometimes do
this. You success will depend on factors including
wood species and the way it is sawn, how the wood
was dried, the sort of equipment and help you have
for the bending, and how pronounced the bend is
to be.

View Earlextech's profile


1161 posts in 2684 days

#4 posted 06-17-2013 05:48 PM

Not knowing the amount of bend you want I would tell you that a 4×6 can be steam bent (search extreme wood bending on youtube) but you’re probably not equipped to do that, nor would it make sense for you to invest in what it takes. I also would not use PT but rather cypress or even redwood, preferably air dried. For this project I would do bent lamination, still using steam but doing 3/4” at a time and laminating together. This will make the strongest possible stand.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View shipwright's profile


7979 posts in 2791 days

#5 posted 06-17-2013 07:25 PM

I’ve done lots of bending with steam and would not suggest that you try doing it with 4” material.
You can bend 2” fairly easily with proper steam (pressurized ~230 degrees)and the proper equipment but you would be better off going 4 X 1” if you really want to do this by steam bending.
Your bigger problem will be the tendency of the 1” X 6” pieces to severely cup when bent. The farther from square the worse this effect will be. In 1 X 6 you could have a half inch of cupping that you cannot flatten with any number of clamps.
As for material white oak is both a very good bending wood and very rot resistant.

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

View JAAune's profile


1797 posts in 2310 days

#6 posted 06-17-2013 08:21 PM

Yes, a 4”x6” beam is doable but it would be a tough project unless you’ve already got plenty of experience with smaller scale work. It would require a very long lever, tempered spring steel strapping and a come-along or block and tackle with significant weight capacity along with plenty of extra hands to help out. Then there’s the problem of bolting down the form so it won’t move.

Someone I know did a beam in the neighborhood of 4”x4” a few years ago and if memory serves correct, he had three people pushing a 20’ long lever to get it to bend around something like a 48” radius. I don’t really know the particulars because I wasn’t there myself.

If you are going to laminate the beam you’ll need a 100% waterproof glue to resist the moisture in the ground. Epoxy is one of them.

-- See my work at and

View WilliamPRussick's profile


2 posts in 1799 days

#7 posted 06-18-2013 12:05 AM

Thank you all very much, this was a big help. I know things change from bending simple little things on your work bench to bending such large pieces. I think steam lamination will be the easier/safer way to do this.

Big thanks and respect to all you pro’s out there.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics