Friday, August 21, 2009

Steam bending wood - better luck this time!

I made a second attempt at steam bending wood this week and had much better results. Here are the changes I made based on the first failed attempt:
  • I Left the wood long - I'll cut it to length after its bent.
  • I used wood with long straight grain that did not crosscut the piece to be bent.
  • I soaked it longer, in the bathtub, before steaming so that it was good and wet.
  • I modified the jig so that I could use clamps to slowly bend the wood into place and hold the wood together in case it wanted to split.
I also got a new lucky hat from a case of Black Horse this week. I know that helped. Lori loves it, she says its a Bayman hat.

Despite the hat and the improvements in preparation, I think I'll still need at least one more bending session with this piece. The way I had the jig set up didn't let me get the full bend that I needed in the wood because the clamps were extended as far as they could go. There was still flex in the wood and I think it would have bent further, but I just ran out of clamp. I took the piece out of the jig this morning and it flexed back a little bit, but not much. I'll compare the reproduction to the artifact this afternoon and see what more needs to be done then. If the wood is going to flex back a little after its removed from the jig, then I guess I'll need to exaggerate the curve a bit in the jig set up. Kind of like how the brim of your awesome new hat has an exaggerated curve when you find it rolled up in your case of Black Horse.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top, Is hauling your new equipment onto the back lawn to work the first sign that your workshop is getting too small?
Middle, The wood drying in the jig. If you enlarge the photo, you might see the pencil marks behind the rib showing the necessary curve. I'll need to bend it again to get the curve I need.
Bottom, 1 of 3 hats free in 12 packs of Black Horse - Collect all Three!

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