Steam bending projects - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 06-29-2020, 04:21 AM Thread Starter
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Steam bending projects

I'm starting with some steam bending, so here I'll show my projects...



First test done, with 5cm wide and 3mm thin oak strips, 3pcs successfully bent, 2pcs cracked.. Good average if you ask me.. I'll need lots of experience with this, so time will show what happens .


If you have any good advice, be free to write..
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Cutting twice and it's still short..
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post #2 of 13 Old 06-29-2020, 08:31 AM
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How many hours did you steam them?

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post #3 of 13 Old 06-29-2020, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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20 minutes

Cutting twice and it's still short..
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post #4 of 13 Old 06-29-2020, 04:25 PM
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I don't think you are cooking them long enough


You steam tube looks to be made out of PVC, I built my first steam tube out of 4 inch PVC and before the wood got fully steamed the PVC had gotten warm enough to collapse but I was steaming 4/4 wood

There is no app for experience
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post #5 of 13 Old 06-29-2020, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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I was doing it by hour per inch "rule", and added some more time.. I still don't have experience with this.. You think I should steam it longer?
This is 4" PVC tube, and it was pretty hot, I couldn't hold my hand on it.. And outside air temp was 32C, so not cooling the tube much..

Cutting twice and it's still short..
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post #6 of 13 Old 06-30-2020, 12:13 AM
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Are you getting a lot of water inside the tube?
The ideal layout is to put the tube higher than the water pot, so that the steam is still rising, and then to have it very slightly tilted, so that the condensed water runs out of the tube and back into the water pot.
This keeps the steam at a higher percentage inside the tube and the water running back means you dont have to top the pot up as much.

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post #7 of 13 Old 06-30-2020, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, I'm getting a lot of water inside the tube. Tube is placed lower than water pot.. Tube is a bit inclined and has a hole on lowest place, so water is getting out of the tube.. Pot is pretty big, so I didn't need to top up water in it..

Next time I'll do it as you say and place the tube higher than pot.. What do you suggest about steaming time?

Any other tips are very welcome :)

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post #8 of 13 Old 06-30-2020, 02:23 AM
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It is possible to bend wood without steam. You need hot water and Downy water softener. I have made custom stair risers where the first riser bends on a 9" radius. I use a full 3/4" or 13/16" board and then kerf the board where the bend is. The tread is dadoed to receive the riser, this also helps as a form. I made a V shaped trough with ends to keep it from tipping over. The water softener is added to the hot water. The board end that gets the bend is soaked until the water is tepid. The riser is removed from the trough ,placed in the form dry ,no glue yet. When the board dries it is removed, glue brushed on the dados and also on the back of the bend. The board goes back in the riser. A thin veneer or even laminate backing is added to the back. This does two things, strengthens the bend . Without a backing you can see thru the bend, backing prevents this. The kerfs have to be perfectly evenly spaced or the bend will develop flats instead of a nice smooth curve. I space the kerfs on 5/16" centers and the depth is about 5/8" / 11/16" depending on the wood species used.
I used to steam bend , still do on occasion. My steam box is 3/4" x 8" x 18'-0" made from white oak . I needed the long length for an occasional ash gunnels on stripper canoes. The box is tilted about 15 with 1/2" holes in the end cap. Water condensation empties thru these two holes. The boiler is a discarded 20 gallon compressor tank.
Heat provided by charcoal and started with a propane torch . The torch is used for about 3 or 4 minutes to help get the steam up.
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-01-2020, 07:58 AM
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Ill preface this by saying Ive never done any steam bent wood work. But I work on steam boilers and there systems almost daily. So I know a fair bit about how steam travels, and how it does not.

The location of the steaming tube relative to the steam source is not that critical for steam travel.

But. You want the tube between the source and the steaming tube as large as reasonably possible. And Ideally this tube would run strait up for at least 2 ft prior to turning downhill. This will help dry the steam. Next is the tube itself. For more complete steam distribution you should have the entrance of steam on one end of the tube, a drain port for condensate on the opposite, have a slight pitch toward the drain. You also want small vents in a few locations throughout the tube. This will promote more even steam distribution in the tube. Just remember, if air cant escape, steam cant enter.

Hope this helps in the design of your steam tube design.

Also, pvc pipe is not ideal.

Steal or copper would be best, but thats likely cost prohibitive, so I would look into making a wooden steaming tube, perhaps cedar, or another wet tolerant wood.


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post #10 of 13 Old 07-02-2020, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your tips. I'm not sure about "drying" steam. I'm not expert about steam bending, but as far as I know by now, role of steam is to keep wood from drying while getting it hot.

I know that PVC tube is not ideal, but it has many advantages in my case: easy length adjusting, easy to store it as it is lightweight and not so big when disassembled.

Cutting twice and it's still short..
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post #11 of 13 Old 07-02-2020, 07:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonY206 View Post
Thank you for your tips. I'm not sure about "drying" steam. I'm not expert about steam bending, but as far as I know by now, role of steam is to keep wood from drying while getting it hot.

I know that PVC tube is not ideal, but it has many advantages in my case: easy length adjusting, easy to store it as it is lightweight and not so big when disassembled.

Dry steam is a relative term. Steam is wet due to being water in vapor form.

Wet steam has lots of extra water mixed in with it thats not made the transition to steam entirely. That water is called carryover, and causes the actual steam to lose energy and revert back to water sooner.

So you want the steam to be dry in order to do the work where you want it done.


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post #12 of 13 Old 07-02-2020, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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I understand now. Thank you 😊
Another question.. If tube between pot and PVC tube is longer, it won't cool down the steam and make more condensation and less steam entering PVC tube?

Cutting twice and it's still short..

Last edited by TonY206; 07-02-2020 at 02:58 PM.
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post #13 of 13 Old 07-02-2020, 04:20 PM
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Steam bending projects

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonY206 View Post
I understand now. Thank you
Another question.. If tube between pot and PVC tube is longer, it won't cool down the steam and make more condensation and less steam entering PVC tube?

So long as the steam is transferring heat to something relatively cold, it will condense to water as is loses enough energy.

Once the feed line is hot, that will be minimal, and to limit the condensate in the feed line, insulate the line, same for the tube.

But, if the set up you have now is producing reasonable results, Id start by just adding a few vent holes to distribute the steam more evenly in the tube, preferably along the bottom of the tube. The steam will naturally rise to top, then back fill the tube to the vent ports on the bottom.

Im not trying to get you chasing your tail, I have a tendency to do that.


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Last edited by furnacefighter15; 07-02-2020 at 04:23 PM.
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