Steam Generator


Aug 9, 2009
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Does anyone use a steam generator and steam box for bending bindings and purfling? I was looking at the Earlex steam generator. I like to use herringbone or other similar purfling strips for rosettes as well as the sides. sometimes using a heat blanket or pipe, I damages the piece. Most likely from not enough heat. I was wondering if the steam generator would be better?
For bindings with purfling, I just glue the purfling to the bindings, spritz with water or whatever, wrap in aluminum foil, and bend them over a form with a heat gun. Tape it down over night and good to go in the morning. For forms I just use quarter inch plywood cut out to the profile of the body and put it in a vise. Not really that involved... I've never bent a herrignbone rosette although I have some and have thought about the idea. Here is what I would do: I would take a piece of scrap plywood, route out the size channel I wanted, then lay the herringbone strip at the top and with a water mister and heat from a heat gun (not too hot) work that herringbone strip in there slowly, hit it with a big blast of heat at the end, let it sit overnight (or not) to dry and then take it out and good to go.
i saw some great stuff on youtube. one guy was bending real legitimate stuff, these were beams for ship ribs. he had some pots boiling water that were placed under the beams which were across sawhorses with plastic sheeting over the beams, and the guy waited until the wood was plastic enough which on a beam is a <while>. a pot of boiling water is enough with your stock over it and covered with whatever you think appropriate, and your observations on the time you feel it takes to get the pieces compliant. there is also the popular wetting the pieces and using a bending iron. there is making a steam box or a steam box made out of pvc pipe. i don't feel jigging up too far is the answer. short enough pieces can be done in a microwave with some care. i like the ship builder's approach for several reasons. first he was top of the bending food chain and whatever he did had authority. then it was a matter of when things were ready, using patience, and none of this quick-quick. it's a good life lesson.
Really. It isn't that big a deal. Bending wood is not magic. Just do it. Easy.... Ebony is the exception to this rule. I hate bending ebony.
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