Bending wood may seem like a tall task, but it’s actually a lot easier than you’d think. There are actually many ways to bend wood. The most common way is a method known as steam bending.
Step 1: Pick a Form: Most people who are going to bend wood already have a final shape in mind. How much do you want to bend? Without a final shape to emulate, it’s hard to bend the wood effectively. It’s just like driving without a destination. As such, it’s important to finalize a shape. To ensure that you can bend wood to the form you desire, you need to get or make a mold to clamp the wood into position after it becomes soft enough.
Step 2: Build a Steam Box: Next, you need to build a regular wooden box where you can steam the wood. Depending on your project, the steam box can be of various sizes or shapes. You can use any type of wood except press board because it will warp almost immediately.
Step 3: Install a Copper Pipe: Lay a copper pipe on the inside of the box, at the bottom. This pipe has to be covered in perforations so that all the steam has a place to escape.
Step 4: Drill a Hole: Then, you have to drill a hole at the bottom of the box, where you should attach a “T” junction to the middle of the copper pipe already inside. It must get in the hole snugly.
Step 5: Secure a PVC Hose: Next, connect a PVC hose to the T junction. Connect the other end of it to your steam source, which can be anything from an electric kettle to a wallpaper steamer.
Step 6: Place the Wood in the Steam Box: Put your wood into the steam box and close the cover.
Step 7: Start Steaming: Now that you have done everything else, you can begin steaming the wood. Turn on your steam source and let the box fill with steam. Depending on the thickness as well as the type of wood, the time taken to soften the wood enough to be bent varies. The best way to judge it is to allow for one hour per inch of the thickness of the wood.
Step 8: Bending the Wood: After you have removed the wood from the steam box, you will have to put it into the mold to bend it into the form that you want. When you are bending wood, there will typically be a small degree of “springback” so you have to account for this, to get the desired shape. For cooling, drying, and setting of the wood, allow for one day per inch of the thickness of the wood.