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Thread: Bending a piece of ash without steaming

  1. #1
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    Bending a piece of ash without steaming

    I have been looking up some info on steaming. Apparently, steaming does not work well with kiln dried wood, or wood that has been dry for a long time. The wood I have is either one or the other. The bend I have to make is very small, about 4" over 4'.(The bow of my canoe.) I successfully bent a piece of x 1 ash to this bend without steaming, and the piece I will be bending is 5/16" thick, not a big difference. Do you think there is much of a risk of cracking the ash if I don't steam it? I would like to apply varnish to the inside of the ash before I fasten it in place, and I don't know how this would react with steaming.

    I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing.
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  2. #2
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    On second thought...

    I just went thorugh my gunwales and inwales. They have a natural curve in the direction I would want to steam them, and I may have to force them to be a little straighter when I apply them. I'll be doing it the next sunny day we have (d.v.) and you can wish me luck!
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  3. #3
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    Without knowing the correct answer to your question, I wouldn't think that slight a bend on wood that thin would be a problem...but then anything can happen. I am sure of one thing: 212 steam isn't going to be good for varnish, I would expect it to flake off with that kind of wet heat. Is this piece to be pre bent, or do you bend it in place and fasten as you go? One other ting I've seen mentioned (but haven't tried) is dampening the piece a little before bending. You may not want to try that, but a guy I know swears it makes a difference.

    edit in: OK, we were typing at the same time, so instead of the above I'll wish you luck!

    another edit in: Now I just had a second thought: if you just lean that piece of ash against the wall, it will probably get it's own bend, though it may not be exactly the curve you want.
    Last edited by fred hargis; 10-04-2014 at 07:29 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Tulk View Post
    I have been looking up some info on steaming. Apparently, steaming does not work well with kiln dried wood, or wood that has been dry for a long time. The wood I have is either one or the other. The bend I have to make is very small, about 4" over 4'.(The bow of my canoe.) I successfully bent a piece of x 1 ash to this bend without steaming, and the piece I will be bending is 5/16" thick, not a big difference. Do you think there is much of a risk of cracking the ash if I don't steam it? I would like to apply varnish to the inside of the ash before I fasten it in place, and I don't know how this would react with steaming.

    I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing.
    I have NO experience bending wood. Well almost no experience. Bending green wood does seem to make a lot of sense though.

  5. #5
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    I have no experience bending wood. But, I have seen many demos for doing it the "old" way. The craftsmen say it is not the steam that helps the bend, it is just the heat. Meaning a dry heat will (should) work. I'm overdue to visit Tod, he does a lot of bending with vacuum sacks. I'll ask him. Actually, I have never noticed any steam/heat devices in his shop, just the big table and vacuum sacks.
    "Folks is funny critters."

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  6. #6
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    While I haven't done a great deal of bending, ash is one of those woods that bends readily without steaming. I have bent the tips of 3/4" ash water skies without cracking, so I don't think you would have any problem with a 5/16" piece.
    "When the horse is dead....Get Off!"

  7. #7
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    I think you should have no trouble bending your ash gunwales without steaming. That's what I've done, though if I understand what you intend, it's the 1 1/4" dimension, not the 5/16 dimension that's in the direction of the bend. I clamp the inwales and outwales in place, drill through from the outside and install screws to hold, then remove them to varnish all surfaces including the insides of the screw holes before replacing them. If you have steel screws with the same threads as your final ones (presumably brass, bronze, or stainless), the initial fit is done with stronger steel screws.

  8. #8
    I have bent 5/16 walnut into a pretty good curve by soaking it in water overnight. I am still working on my steam bending skills. My latest attempt was a 3/8 piece of maple. Tried to steam and bend it to about a 45 degree. Breaks everytime. I am guessing it is kline dried. I don't have a moisture meter.

  9. #9
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    As it happens, I got the ash to bend the required amount without steaming, although it took some muscle at the ends to get it into place. It is firmly in place now, and I have to wait until spring to install thwarts and seats. I made a temporary thwart to keep the canoe from flopping around during movement.
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

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