Wood can be so damn straight! Oh sure, you can always grab a trusty jigsaw and a little sandpaper to make a few curves. But what if you’ve got a woodworking project so curvaceous it makes San Francisco’s Lombard Street look like the Interstate in Nevada? Our sponsor Rockler has just the thing for you, their Steam Bending Kit & Plan. What’s “the plan”, you ask? Well, the kit comes with everything you need to start steam bending wood, with the exception of a box to do it in. Oh, and the water. They don’t ship the water, which we think is a sound environmental decision. As to the missing box, that’s where “the plan” kicks in, giving you the blueprints to create your own wood bending steam box. But wait, there’s more!
If you’re a woodworker that’s always on the prowl for the next challenge to expand your technical chops, bending wood with steam might be just what you need. From curved boxes, boats, unique furniture, or just beautiful wood arches (my personal fave), harnessing the power of steam is a time-honored tradition in working with wood. Keep in mind, steam bending wood can’t do everything. If you’re hoping to make a strip of wood bend into an acute angle (I knew high school geometry would pay off big for me at some point!), wood bending probably isn’t a good bet. But if you like your wood angles more obtuse (I’m on a roll!), then Rockler’s Steam Bending Kit might be just the ticket.
Technical Details via Rockler
Makes it possible to give nearly any wood species enough plasticity to bend or curve to your liking. Use it to build unique chairs, toys, oval Shaker boxes, instruments, specialized molding, doors, handrails, and more. 5.3 quart reservoir with built-in heating element heats the inside of your steam box to 212°. Easy-access reservoir may be refilled during the steaming process for unlimited steam. 10′ long steam hose allows you to position your steam box in a safe position off the floor
- One Steam Generator
- One Steam Hose
- One Brass Fitting
- Two Hinges
- One Latch/Clasp
- One Plan for Building Your Own Steam Box
Before you get rolling on your wood bending, steamy adventure, be sure to check out the reviews tab on Rockler’s site. You’ll find some very useful info and tips posted by reviewers of the Steam Bending Kit, and also the nice pic shown on the left. David Tilson’s review in particular is chock full of wood bending tips and tricks. Aside from this wet noodle testimonial and safety tip, “Having now used that little box with the 1500W heater to bend white oak like it was a wet noodle, I’ll say I’m a believer. BTW, if you’re not intimately familiar with the dangers involved in working with live steam, watch out or you’ll end up with severe burns!”, David shares a number of tips including using marine-grade ply for the box, sealing the inside of your steam chamber, and key accessories like the cherished meat thermometer.
For a quick primer on the joys of steam bending wood, you can also check out this Rockler vid:
Wood bending no longer has to be exclusively in the realm of the woodworking elite. Thanks to Rockler, just about anyone can start wood bending with the power of steam. Trust me, it’s a lot more convenient (and less wrinkle-inducing) than taking a really long, hot shower with your next woodworking project. The Rockler Steam Bending Kit (and plan for the steam box) will run you about $75, which is not bad for the power to literally bend mother nature’s raw materials to your whims. If you’re feeling the love for steam bending wood, you might also want to pick up a copy of Woodworker’s Guide to Bending Wood from Amazon. If you have had any wood bending experience or have tips and tricks of your own, please let us know in the comments below!