How to Bend Wood With Heat

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Use heat to bend wood.
Use heat to bend wood. (Image: Cedar fence planks image by K. Geijer from Fotolia.com)

Wood is a very durable material that can withstand many years of use and is not easily bent. You can prepare the wood for bending by heating the wood thoroughly and shaping it while hot. The use of a steam machine for prepping wood requires you to be patient during the steaming and to work very quickly during the shaping. If you can do this, you can bend wood with heat by yourself for almost any use.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood
  • Steam box
  • Jig

Calculate how long you will need to heat the wood for. You must steam the wood for an hour per inch of thickness. So if the wood is two inches thick, you will heat it for two hours.

Fill the steam box’s boiler with enough water to last for your needed steaming time.

Turn on the steam box and let it fill with steam completely.

Put the wood in the box for the necessary amount of time.

Prepare the jig for the wood while it is steaming by opening the clamps completely. The jig will hold the wood in whatever shape the jig you have chosen is built.

Remove the wood immediately from the steam box as the steam time finishes.

Work very quickly to get the wood from the box and into the jig in as little time as possible. Close the clamps on the wood very tightly.

Let the wood cool and dry for 24 hours in order for the shape to set properly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ask your lumber dealer if your wood is exceptionally dry or moist and how to adjust steaming time.
  • If the boiler runs out of water before your steam time is finished do not try to refill it. Let the wood dry overnight and then steam it again.

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