Steam bending wood
Information resources on how to steam bend wood. January 24, 2001
Can you give me any information or resources on steam bending wood?
I use an old truck gas tank with a fill spout that sticks straight up. The tank has a water fill hole on the other end. I stick that fill spout in the end of a 6"-wide PVC pipe. I use a propane crab cooker burner under the tank. I put a 6" cap on the end of the pipe, with holes drilled in it so a little of the steam comes out.
Check out the boat-building web sites for articles on steam bending.
Mike Dunbar's book on Windsor Chair making talks about steam bending.
I have used a rented wallpaper steamer hooked to a 4" piece of PVC with screw-on caps to steam wood for chairs. It will get hot enough to bend the PVC if it isn't supported well. For 1" diameter pieces, it takes 20-25 minutes if I only have a few in the pipe. You have to work fast or the wood will split.
The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).
Comment from contributor A:
I do not recommend PVC for a steam chamber. If tempature should exceed 180 degrees your pipe will begin to collapse. It happened to me so I recommend using wood from the start.
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