Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Update and Wood Bending, Again

On Saturday morning I was out of coffee filters so I darted out to Dominion to pick some up. When I got in the car I noticed that I'd left the glove box and another drawer open. Then when I started driving the centre console clicked shut and I realized that every drawer in the front of the car was open and that our parking change was gone. I must have left the car unlocked on Friday after returning from The Rooms and overnight someone rummaged through it. The only thing that I noticed missing was $2-$4 in parking meter coins. All of the CDs were still in the glove box. I guess people don't steal CDs anymore.

Sunday was a pretty chilly day. I've been continuing with my running schedule - running on Monday, Thursday, Friday with a long run on Sunday, but the Sunday runs have been getting much less enjoyable the past few weeks. Two or three weeks ago it was raining so hard that after an hour or so my iPod stopped working. After a couple days in a bag of dry rice it started again, but I know how it felt. With single digit temperatures yesterday I decided to run on the treadmill and watch Indiana Jones on Satellite for 80 minutes, rather than go out in the gloomy morning.

Lori got back from the field on Sunday evening. I just got a sneak peak of her photos and I can't wait to see her blog posts!

I worked a little on the weekend. Mostly on the bows and on some little antiquing treatments that take some time to dry. One of the pieces that I have drying is that kayak rib that I've been bending since August. I thought I had it beat a few weeks ago. It was bent to the correct curve, I'd let it dry in the clamps for several days and whenever I wasn't working on it I kept tension on it with a bungie cord. After two weeks of holding its bend I decided to cut it to length. Almost immediately it started to straighten, and within 3 or 4 days it was completely out of shape, even with the bungie keeping tension on it 24 hours a day.

Its pine and I've read very mixed reviews on bending softwood, some people saying that it can't be bent. Others who have bent it say that the 1 hour per inch of thickness steaming rule only applies to hardwood. Softwood takes much less time. I've been soaking the wood for a few hours and then steaming it for 15 minutes and the bending goes much better, but even that's not perfect. I got tension cracks on the outside of the bend. The artifact I'm reproducing is so desicated that those cracks won't hurt the final project, but on other projects they would be frustrating. Since the same piece is getting bent multiple times I've switched from a water soluble carpenters glue to repair those cracks to super glue and sawdust. The superglued repairs don't come unstuck during the long soaking process. The simple shape of the bend I'm going for also let me use a ratchet strap to bend the steamed wood to the jig this time. The strap worked a little like the backing on a bow and don't believe any new tension cracks formed on this most recent bend. I'll probably go after it with the hair dryer before I take it out of the jig this time.

Nevertheless, I'm going to assume that the wood won't hold the bend, so I'm going to have to come up with some kind of support to send along with the reproduction to hold the shape. At some point it will stop trying to straighten out won't it?

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: Antiquing workspace on the dining room table
Middle: Correct bend shown with a bungie. There was no flex in the wood, it stayed bent with the bungie off, but I didn't take any chances and left it on all the time anyhow.
Bottom: After I cut the extra length off it started to straighten, so its back in the bending jig.

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