Steam Bending. What is a good heat source to make the steam?

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Hello,
I found a beater Old Town Pack from the 1970's. The plastic gunnels are brittle and sunburned badly so the plan is to re-new with Ash. I need to steam bend them to fit the wide, curvy and short hull. I have a pot but can't get enough steam with charcoal briquettes. I have never steamed wood before so this is a learning experience. So my question is, what heat source works for those of you who have steamed wood before??
Thanks in advance for advice on this.
Larry
 
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I have had great luck using a wallpaper steamer. Make a wood box to length with dowels running through it to suspend the ash with a vent on the other side. A long pvc pipe can work too. Time is the tough piece. There is a sweet spot. Too much time can be counterproductive. My experience is around ten minutes for every 1/4” thickness of stock that has not been dried. Get green ash if you can. Depending on the shear line you may want to try using clamps and no steam- just a thought but all depends how clear the stock is, how dry etc.

I know some very experienced guys will chime in and I am curious of other methods. Great question- best of luck.

Bob
 
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I use a double burner Coleman stove, outside. Works good, I had a nice old gas can with a spout I would ad water to, then an old radiator hose hooked to my steam box like Cheesandbeans mentions. There is a nice thread on this site started by our new administrator, daveo, but I’m using an iPad these days and can’t figure out how to cut and paste the thread. It’s title is “Steam bending with a bag”
https://www.canoetripping.net/forum...-discussions/diy/52781-steam-bending-with-bag
 
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Hello,
I found a beater Old Town Pack from the 1970's. The plastic gunnels are brittle and sunburned badly so the plan is to re-new with Ash. I need to steam bend them to fit the wide, curvy and short hull. I have a pot but can't get enough steam with charcoal briquettes. I have never steamed wood before so this is a learning experience. So my question is, what heat source works for those of you who have steamed wood before??
Thanks in advance for advice on this.
Larry

I've always used an electric coil single burner hot plate type of thing.

Alan
 
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Hello Bob,
Wow thanks, I never thought of that! They have wallpaper steamers for rent at Home Depot. That sounds like the ticket!
 
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I've only steamed wood once, but had good luck with our Coleman stove, pressure cooker, and a capped plastic pipe long enough to contain the wood. A rag worked well to seal the pipe to the pressure cooker lid. We steamed 1/4 inch laminations for about 20 minutes, and then got to work quickly.
 

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There's a multitude of ways to get steam bending jobs done and I guess what is best for each of us depends on what and how often you intend to bend wood. My thanks to the folks who already replied as there's always more to learn. I've read book on 18th and 19th century British shipyards steam bending 4" and thicker white oak planks for the complex curves on wooden sailing ships and would like to get into Mr Peabody's "Wayback machine" to see that..... The younger folks may need to look that up.....

I want to tinker with bending seat frames, parts for pack frames and, although I can't snowshoe here in North Carolina and haven't made any in years, I may make some shoes for our grandkids who are interested. But only if they a really interested.

I've pulled together most of the parts for the120 volt water heater element based steam generator in the video linked below and plan to make a 4 foot long steam box like the one in the linked article with the rear collar that is shown to accept another box as an occasional extension. The steam generator parts will likely be around $50-60 USD and have the advantage of being able to just fill it with water, plug it in and flip a switch with no need for a hotplate, stove etc. Depending on what I learn as I go the 240 volt version may get built, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXItYtzIPnA

https://www.finewoodworking.com/2007/12/01/how-to-build-a-steambox

And now that I see the thread on bending in a bag I want to try that, too. Does anyone have any bag materiel they want to sell some of?

Best regards,


Lance
 
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Single burner Coleman stove is my go to heat source. I borrow a tea pot for the steam and use an eavestrough downspout for the box. Good luck on your project.
 
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Likely you have already figured something out but if not... I also use a wallpaper steamer, they work great, no mess, just fill with water, plug it in and go. I like the idea of a nice wooden box but ended up buying ABS sewer pipe and fittings. Threaded caps at the end and I have several lengths I can screw together as needed to make it longer and shorter. The only issue is it turns fairly floppy when hot so needs to be well supported or you will have a noodle when you are done. Have fun with this!
 
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a buddy came up with the ultimate steamer- a hot tub heater in a barrel with a toilet tank valve to keep it from running dry, feeding an elbow into 10" x 20' sewer pipe complete with a cap with a vent hole and handle added. Need rails for a 17 footer- sure, holds a half dozen! ribs- no problem it'll hold 3 bundles of 8 (with strings around the bundles to pull them out)
You could fill up the barrel, leave the hose connected, fire up the heater, and walk away to do other stuff, and the heater could be dialed in with a rheostat to produce as much or as little steam as needed.
 
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I use a double burner Coleman stove, outside. Works good, I had a nice old gas can with a spout I would ad water to, then an old radiator hose hooked to my steam box like Cheesandbeans mentions. There is a nice thread on this site started by our new administrator, daveo, but I’m using an iPad these days and can’t figure out how to cut and paste the thread. It’s title is “Steam bending with a bag”
https://www.canoetripping.net/forum...-discussions/diy/52781-steam-bending-with-bag

That's was me but also DaveO back when our usernames got twisted somehow. My setup cost a little bit for the burner but it works great and I do like the sleeve so I can do it right on the hull as the video shows. If anyone wants a try at this method let me know as I still have 1400+ feet of the sleeve and would gladly cut off what you need and send it on.

dougd
 
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Never steamed wood for canoes, however back when I made dog sleds I steamed wood for runners, driving and brush bows. I used a two burner Optimus 22 B camp stove, a large metal coffee can to hold the water, 6 inch stovepipe Tee with the bottom of the T fitted into the coffee can, then straight stove pipe sections off each end of the T long enough for the wood that needed bending. The straight stove pipe had metal pins stuck through the center of the pipe hold the material being steamed. Ends of the pipe were stuffed with rags to hold the steam in. Worked good enough for what I was doing. Latter I just cut the material into thin strips, then laminated them into the proper shapes which because of the glue were much stronger.
Still have the Optimus 22B, probably a collector's item today, still works great, sounds like a jet taking off, silence is even quieter after using it.
 
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I'm back. My old computer died and this one is borrowed and very unfamiliar. So back to steam bending, I want to say Thank You to everyone who offered a solution or answer to what heat source would work for steaming my 4 little strips of wood. All very good and helpful answers from experienced people. One thing I really like about this forum is the depth of experience here. No matter what the problem, somebody has been there and done that and knows how to do it again. In this case many people have had the experience of steam bending wood and you all are a big help to this novice. So yes thank you all for the help!
Larry
 
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Although this set-up was for scarfing in new stems on a cedar-canvas, I did use a much longer 1 1/2" pvc pipe for the gunnels. It worked very well using the rag at the top to adjust the steam flow. Three cheers for a $4 Value Village kettle with an 1 1/2" hole cut out of the top.
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I know this is an old thread, but I had to add this picture because some may find it alarming.

steaming 01 resized.jpg

A gas can on a Coleman stove -- what could possibly go wrong?

Don't worry; the can was empty and thoroughly cleaned. Rather than use a steam box, I wrapped the chine log of my 15 foot skiff in plastic and steamed it in place.
 
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