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How Do I Bend Wood With Steam

Q: How do I bend wood with steam?

A: Steaming wood is one method of creating a curved piece, and some woods such as oak respond well to steam bending. Keep in mind that thinner stock bends easier (with less breakage) than thicker stock. You can find many woodworking books that offer detailed instructions on steam-bending. Essentially, you’ll need to make a box to fit the size board you need to steam. PVC drain pipe is a common steam-box material because most boards will fit inside its 4-in. diameter. One end should be capped along with a removable cap on the other end. The box should be sloped with a drain hole on the end. Steam is introduced from your steam generator into an intake port along the top. You can generate steam with a water kettle or a wallpaper steamer. Steam for about one hour per each inch of its thickness. Remove the board with gloves, set it into a bending form or clamps, and allow it to cool to retain its shape.

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