Steam Bending

Steam bending is the process of heating up timber to make it maleable enough to form into a curve. It is an old technique commonly used in chair manufacturing and, if done well, is far lest wastefull than other curve forming techniques.

If you've decided to do some steam bending you'll find the videos below will give you some usefull information on how to get started and what to expect. As a quick reference guide some things to remember are:

  • Kiln dried timber will need to be steamed for 2 hours for every 25mm of thickness.

  • The grain runout should be less than 25mm over 300mm.

  • Thicker timbers and tighter bends typicaly have less spring back.

  • American Oak, Ash and American Maple are good bending timbers.

  • Use a compression strap.

Steam bending problems and solutions

In this video you'll hear some tips and tricks that aim to help achieve the best outcomes from steam bending. The machine workshop doesn't have a steaming or bending setup like this but the principles are the same.

Steam bending a chair.

This video shows a mix of thin strip steam bending and curved lamination. It allows you to produce tighter curves more consistently but it does use far more material.

Introduction to steam bending.

This is a great introduction to steam bending! Here you'll see the kind of forms you'll need to make and how to set-up and make a compression strap.

Another introduction to steam bending.

In this video you'll see how to set up and bend thick pieces of timber using a hand winch.

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