Steam bending

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Steam bending

Postby johncleaves » Mon Jun 09, 2014 5:30 pm

I had a tool/device failure whilst trying to bend back legs for a chair (I did manage to get them partially bent). My question is 'can I steam/bend these same back legs again?' or do I need to start again and make a fresh pair of legs?

I have been in touch with Hugh Spencer and he thinks it's worth a try but steam the legs for a bit longer as they will take longer to heat up due to them being drier now.

Would welcome any other comments people may have ...
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Re: Steam bending

Postby gavin » Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:36 am

The sooner you steam for 2nd time the wetter they will be. If you cannot steam right now, put them in plastic bags to retain much moisture as poss.
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Re: Steam bending

Postby johncleaves » Tue Jun 10, 2014 10:37 am

Thanks for that. Plastic bags it is then as I'm awaiting delivery of new sash clamp.
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Re: Steam bending

Postby jrccaim » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:32 am

Steaming is a simple process in principle. Just add moisture! Drying is equally simple. Just remove moisture. Question of course is how much. If you steam something and it doesen't bend as you wish -- well it may be too thick. Then again you maybe didn't steam it enough. Without elaborate test equipment it is impossible to give formulas, and it's trial and error. And it all depends on the degree of bend. Mike Abbot has some useful info on bending chair legs.See his book. If you are bending snowshoes, for example, which is a 180deg bend, the Natives here usually boil (they do not steam) a couple hours according to my info; stock is maybe 20-30mm stuff. Steaming is faster than boiling (faster penetration). How much faster? Dunno. So how much do you want to bend? So how thick is your piece? All factors. But literally no sweat. Steam it 30 minutes, even an hour, better too much than too little. Try a bend, be sure to use clamp of some sort. Ideally a bending form. Watch the outside and inside of the bend like a hawk. As soon as you see the slightest sign of splintering stop. Go steam it another half an hour. Try again.And never, never let the piece plinter. I have ruined I don't know how many pieces by hurrying. Worst case it dries out, 'cause you ran out of patience or time or fuel. No matter. It may take a few heats but eventually it will bend. Of course within reason. To bend a 30 cm thick piece of wood 180 deg is totally beyond the limits of the material.(nless the radius of the bend is 160 meters:) and you have a hydraulic press :) :) In that case better hink of laminating.
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