Sunday ToolFoolery: Building An Improved Steam-Bending Box
Hot on the heels of its inaugural run, I thought I'd post the design of my improved steam-bending box. I really wanted to "turn it up to 11" -- both to remove any doubt about whether I was getting the wood pliable enough for chair leg bending, but also with an eye to building a nice little high-transomed rowboat for our pond.
The first decision I made was to move from electric to propane power. This came at a cost, as it forced me to move my bending outdoors (I've moved it to the shop for glam photos.) The intensity and number of warnings on the instructions convinced me that stoking this thing up under cover -- even in the garage, was a death wish. So out it went.
The only real "innovation" is the sliding box-within-a-box that allows it to go from three feet to six feet in length.
A short run of galvanized, 2" pipe attaches to a rubber doohickey that couples the 1 3/4" spout of the petrol can to the OD of the 2" pipe. Needless to say, this is a new petrol can, and I was surprised at how robust it was under fire. It holds two gallons of water. Much to my surprise, this was not enough for the 2 1/2 hour burn. Refilling it with boiling water was easy via a funnel.
Although I've been referring to it as the "Bayou Burner", the heat source is actually a Bayou Classic High Pressure Burner that I found on Amazon. All of the fittings should be available at your local home center, and I don't see why you couldn't replace the steel with PVC.
When in full flight, it maintained a constant temperature of 200 degrees F and belched out a goodly amount of steam.
Feel free to shoot me any questions. Thanks for reading!
I build bespoke furniture in the English and American Arts and Crafts tradition. I refer to my work as "vernacular" -- working furniture that is to be enjoyed and passed down to the next generation. I accept commissions for original designs as well as historically accurate mission, Shaker, prairie, and Cotswold pieces.