Friday, April 15, 2016

It Worked!

Today was a good day... Okay, I am not the first to steam bend wood. I am not the first to use poly tubing as a steam chamber. I am not the first… but this was a first for me. And…it WORKED!

The set-up:
  • 3/4" x 1-3/8" x 8' piece (longest piece I had to experiment with) of cherry
  • 4" poly-tubing
  • Earlex steam generator
  • A 1/2" auto heater hose
  • Slit in poly tubing at mid-point for the hose
  • Clamps...lots of clamps
What could go wrong? The heater hose fell out of the slit in the poly tubing before the steam generator really got going. We (brother-in-law and I) re-grouped, taped the hose at one end of the poly tubing and continued. Even with a significant loss of steam at the slit, the tubing filled with steam & heat and heated the entire length. Thirty-five minutes later, we clamped the piece along the gun'l (bending it in two dimensions), shut off the steam and waited.

An hour later we unclamped the whole affair, pulled the piece out of the tubing and clamped it back in place. Yes, there was a bit of spring-back - but not as much as we expected. The piece went right back in place and is now drying.

We declared the experiment a success and celebrated with beer and brats. Early next week I'll be ordering 20' lumber for the gun'ls and rub-rails and we'll be back at steam bending wood!

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