Steamer help

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Re: Steamer help

Postby steve tomlin » Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:45 am

good to see a discussion of steamer design, i think it's something lots of people have good ideas about which hasn't been shared before.
i've built a few (keep moving house/ workshop and they get left behind thinking then i'll build a better version) using different materials. one key i've found is to get enough heat into your boiler. most of mine are heated by a wood fire burning scraps and shavings from the workshop. the most efficient was
made from an old calor gas bottle. carefully unscrew the brass fitting and fill the bottle with water to make sure all the gas is expelled. i then drilled out the fitting and epoxied a small length of copper tube onto it so i could attach a piece of rubber tubing. i drilled a fill hole in the side of the bottle and set it over a fire with heath-resistant bricks to make a hearth and direct the heat. the bottle sits at an angle with the outlet uppermost so it's above the water level.

i've made "boxes" from plastic pipe (strap on battens to keep rigid), metal flue pipe (useful as you can attach extra sections for longer pieces) and plywood. think about what you are going to be steaming and make the box as small as you can so it there's a little 'waste' space being heated (i made a boiler with a camp kettle and some 32mm copper pipe as the chest for bending 1/4"x3/8" stock) and insulate it, like Sean says.

for better distribution of the steam, run a length of copper pipe along the bottom of the box, plug the end and drill little holes along the length so you get gas 'jets' and hot steam coming out all along the work. be careful how you orientate these - they can burn tiny spots onto the wood. steam under a little pressure is hotter. i've also read that you should bubble the steam through water to saturate it before it goes into the chamber, never done it though.

the top of the chamber is the hottest part.

you can steam wood too much as well as too little. look at your failures and you'll learn a lot

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Re: Steamer help

Postby warrenee » Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:56 pm

all great ideas, many thanks. Warren
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Re: Steamer help

Postby RichardLaw » Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:48 am

Steve,
Can't let that photo go by, what is that machine with the massive wheel to right of your pole lathe?
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Re: Steamer help

Postby steve tomlin » Sun Feb 28, 2010 2:30 pm

that's the headstock wheel on a Trecker mobile sawmill where i used to work. you can just see the square rails that it runs along. good machine but not as accurate as the main saw, a Stenner rack-saw bench built in Tiverton, Devon
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Re: Steamer help

Postby Mike Abbott » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:20 pm

Just moved my laptop to a new desk so thought I'd test my internet connection, now bookmarked on Bodgers Forum. Saw Steve Tomlin had just put something on here, so had a look. Modesty should prevent me but you all know that long since went out the window....
Pages 160 & 161 of Living Wood (2nd & 3rd editions)have not yet been mentioned, so you could have a look there, which backs up most of the above.
Plastic flower pots for bungs held on with bungee cord, gaffa tape and insulated in bubble wrap together with a 4" plastic downpipe comprise my current version. Yes, the pipe sags if not supported but still accepts 1 or 2 pairs of legs at a time. Make the next ones while waiting for the first to steam. Turn it off for a few mins, fill with more boiling water and away you go.
Have fun.
How's things Steve? What's your e-mail now?
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Re: Steamer help

Postby warrenee » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:42 pm

Thanks Mike. Have not yet graduated to your second volume (having far too much fun with your first one), though be assured I will contributing to your royalty pool very soon... and happy to do so. Thanks very much for the ideas, I've got lots to experiment with now.

Regards,

Warren
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Re: Steamer help

Postby Donald Todd » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:30 pm

More steamers here.
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Re: Steamer help

Postby RichardLaw » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:08 am

arth wrote:I made one using a wall paper steamer and some black drainage pipe. Years ago B & Q sold a rubber bung which held on with a jubilee clip, I just drill a hole the same size as the steamer pipe. B & Q might still sale the bungs or a decent plummers shop.


You should be able to get a rubber expanding bung that is used as a temporary bung when testing drains. Builders' merchant should have them. Mine is a kind of rubber doughnut with a metal outer sandwich that increases the size of the rubber when tightened together. Not sure how the rubber would stand up to the steam, might be worth a try?
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Re: Steamer help

Postby ToneWood » Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:59 pm

Anybody know if it is possible to get a 15/16mm threaded male tank-connector that fits the (female) steamer hose connector? E.g. is the size of fitting used by the steamers used for anything else?
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Re: Steamer help

Postby gavin » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:25 pm

I use a wallpaper stripper like the one above. I connect that to 8 inch diameter yellow gas pipe scrap I lifted from a works site approx 6 feet long. I fitted plywood discs at each end. I drilled a line of drain holes along the pipe and diametrically opposite I have the inlet nozzle hole. This sits at the slightly lower end of the yellow pipe in use so the steam can rise. I have not found it necessary to insulate, tho' that would improve efficiency. I set it on a long table in use, else it would sag.
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Re: Steamer help

Postby jrccaim » Wed Apr 02, 2014 4:39 am

To those who asked whether a steam box will explode, no, as long as there is some leakage. Jennie Alexander uses foam rubber end -plugs. For a plywood box a few holes will ensure leakage. Unless you had a very big boiler, I doubt that the pressure will go above atmosperic anyway.
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Re: Steamer help

Postby ToneWood » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:57 pm

A friend gave me a long piece of unused 11cm sewer/drainage pipe and an end cap that he had leftover from a project and I was expecting to use that for my steam chambers:
Image Image
However, I then read an article that suggested that although the above can be used, the ribbed, black pipes stand up to the heat better - and I have a piece of that too, much shorter and a slightly smaller diameter (10cm) but just the right size for my current needs:
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The end-cap is an UG445, which conveniently happens to fit both of the above pipes, despite their different diameters (oddly it seems to fit the black pipe better).

I was going to try to buy another UG445 end-cap for the other end - rather inconvenient to find & additional cost to what I was hoping would be a v. low cost project. But then I read Mike Abbott's post above and have decided to use a flower pot - we have lots - as the vented end plug :) I might nest 2 flower pots, and rotate the inner one to open & close the vent holes. Kevin's/Steve's rag idea has a pleasing simplicity too - and would I suppose eliminate the need for a fancy tank or hose connector too. Hmm.

[Jrrcaim, I have some fairly tough pink rubbery foam that came as packaging with an axe recently. I did consider cutting that into an end plug (perhaps consisting of one circle to go inside the pipe and a second circle to act as a cap outside) but thought it might wilt under steam heat.]

I was hoping to use the gas-ring on my BBQ to drive the steamer but eventually realized that a wallpaper steamer would probably work out quicker, cheaper, simpler, safer & better.
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BTW Screwfix (& Argos) also carry the more expensive Earlex wallpaper strippers, which I later discovered are made in Britain (so you can get spare parts: http://store.earlex.co.uk/ )
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Re: Steamer help

Postby anobium » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:05 pm

I read somewhere, sometime, that boatbuilders use old firemans' hoses so they can bend wood in situ to avoid the wood cooling when removed from the staem box.
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Re: Steamer help

Postby emjay » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:40 pm

Sounds lie a bit of a tall tale, how would they get it out of the hose after it's bent
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Re: Steamer help

Postby ToneWood » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:24 pm

Did my first steaming this morning. Went quite well. Learnt a few things:
1. Cheap extension cords are only rated for 5 amps and the 2kWsteamer needs 7 amps (blew a fuse).
WoodSteamer.jpg
WoodSteamer.jpg (37.73 KiB) Viewed 8959 times

2. At knots, the wood tends to split rather than bend. So better to bend the least knotty end/parts.
RagBung.jpg
I used a rag bung ...
RagBung.jpg (71.99 KiB) Viewed 8959 times

WoodSteamerTopSteam.jpg
...and a flower-pot bung, as described on this thread - worked a treat, thank you for that guys
WoodSteamerTopSteam.jpg (127.98 KiB) Viewed 8959 times

3. Stakes in soft ground are not rigid enough for the bending form. So, after some quick thinking, I used the small, heavy-duty pallet that my wood-burning stove was delivered on, upside down, and my own body-weight to make & hold the bend, a couple of jugs of cold water to help reset the wood.
PalletSteamBendingForm.jpg
PalletSteamBendingForm.jpg (105.34 KiB) Viewed 8959 times

LeatherClamStart2.jpg
The riven ash was steam bent in order to make a saddlers/leather-working clam (unfinished). The curves are normally cut from seasoned wood with a band-saw in commercial clams but steam-bending seemed like an appropriate alternative.
LeatherClamStart2.jpg (90.4 KiB) Viewed 8959 times
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