Thursday, March 22, 2007
The Road to Bending pt.3
Finally to the steambox! There are many ways to make an effective steamer. My choices have been guided by cost, availability and flexibility. My box is simply 3/4" CDX, set on an angle to drain and a Lee Valley steam pot. It is easy to see some sort of magic need for an airtight chamber, but remember this isn't a pressure device, just steam. I have had some pretty leaky cobbled boxes (folks at Williamsburg last year may remember!) and they work fine. I think that it's much more important to focus on sizing the box properly. While the steam pot I use is amazing, I still built my latest steambox to be just large enough to accomodate my largest bend, no more. You can see in the photos that I have a second (unused) tube to the box. I used to have two pots hooked up (I managed to burn the old one out), but have found that one is plenty. I have dowels across the bottom of the interior to support the workpiece and aid in circulation. In the photo of the door you can see the tongue joint that I used on the sides, it works great in this application. although screws, caulk and a butt joint would fit the bill! Steamers are one of those tools that need not be overbuilt, largely because your needs will have you redesigning it from experience soon enough. Two more important points, don't bother to paint or seal the wood and have an easy means of adding water to the pot. A pot like this, even though it shuts off automatically when dry, should be allowed to cool before refilling. So constant monitoring of the water supply will ensure not having any delays in the process. I simply pull the rubber hose out of the end of the aluminum insert to add more. And, oh yeah, always wear gloves when working with steam, it can burn you easier than you think!