Sunday, January 8, 2017

Too Cold for Boat Work

Single-digit temperatures have kept me out of the Boat Cave this week.

Instead, I began a woodworking project I've had on the list for a long time: a pair of Morris Chairs for our reading room.

We decided we wanted Stickley bow-arm style chairs. There are several ways to create a bow-arm. Cut the bow out of thick stock; laminate the bow using 1/4" stock; steam-bending the bow; and gluing up a bow shaped-blank using smaller blocks cut at angles and then sanding the final bow. Based on the success I had bending various pieces for Gardens, I decided to steam bend the bow shape into the arms.

When I bent the carlins and gunwales for Gardens, I used 4" poly-tubing as the steaming chamber and that worked well. I went shopping for 8" poly-tubing (the arm blanks are 1" x 6" x 42") and found rolls of it ranging in length from 725' to 2100' and ranging in price from $70 to $230. Since I only need about 20' of tubing these choices seemed a bit over the top.

I considered PVC pipe… except the materials (4' of 8" PVC pipe and two end caps) priced out at $105, and that seemed too steep, too. (Plus, schedule 40 PVC pipe is not recommended for temperatures above 140F - not good for steaming.)

When I priced plywood to build a small steam box the total came to about $24. I should have started with the plywood box… The box is built and the arms will be bent this week.

Warmer temperatures are in the forecast so I'll get back to Gardens soon.


  1. Hey Bob-- do a Google search for "dental sterilization tubing." You can get a 100' roll of 6" tubing for about $15.

  2. Those chairs are gorgeous! But after you steam do the arms stay bent? All of our steamed boat parts get attached to the boat to keep their bend.

    Kenny - Navigator builder

  3. Sorry for the delayed/late responses...

    Mike, thanks for the dental tubing suggestion. I'll keep it mind for future projects but we built a plywood steam box that worked well.

    Kenny, we had minor spring-back with the arms, but they have stayed bent (chair should be fully assembled early next week and the arms will be glued to the top rails, which should hold them in place). And, yes, Morris chairs are gorgeous!