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Published on May 22nd, 2013 | by Celina


Steam Bending Wood Made Easy With Rockler

For amateur woodworkers, bending wood is a difficult and sometimes tedious next step to achieving the unique vision you have for your project. You can cut notches into the wood, bending it carefully so as to gradually stretch a curve. Or you can layer thin pieces of wood with glue, in a sense, laminating the curve into existence. But what if you could skip all the sawing and glue work and just create beautifully smooth and permanent curves with the help of some tap-water?

With the Rockler Steam Bending Kit you can expand your woodworking skills to include steam bending wood. The possibilities are endless: use it to build one-of-a-kind chairs, toys or instruments. And once you get the hang of things, go on to create specialized molding, doors and even banisters.

The kit includes a 5.3 quart reservoir with a built-in heating element to provide continuous steam for up to two hours. The concentrated steam can heat everything inside your steam box to a whopping 212°. You also receive a 10′ long steam hose, a brass fitting to attach the hose to your steam box and step-by-step assembly instructions on how to build a steam box.

The easy-access reservoir can be refilled during the steaming process for unlimited steam, making it possible to give nearly all woods the plasticity you desire. Also included is an automatic shut-off valve that turns off the unit should the water level fall below a certain point.

Because the kit is entirely made of hard molded plastic, we were initially a bit skeptical about its durability and its ability to concentrate heat. But the included 1500w heater had our soft woods limp in no time.

As the kit advertised that it included all of the hardware to build the box, we were surprised to find that we needed to invest in some solid screws to hold the whole thing together. But once we had our materials assembled, we were steaming wood within 30 minutes. However, what the kit does not make clear enough is the importance of sealing the inside of the box against moisture. We had assumed that this might be beneficial but were not prepared for the extent to which our steam box warped. In addition, the included hose is almost 10 feet long, which allows you to position the steam box on the floor at a safe distance. But the downside of this long length is that the hose loses some heat if it is not kept tightly wrapped in a towel or other form of insulation.

The steam bending kit was a great investment at only $69.99, allowing us to experiment with all sorts of Pinterest ideas that have been showing up on our summer to-do lists. The steam flow was quickly ready, steady, and sufficient to bend even some thicker hardwoods. It’s a wonderful gift for the at-home woodworker or the occasional tinkerer alike. But remember that there are some dangers involved in working with live steam. Keep your skin away from direct contact or you’ll end up with some severe burns!

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About the Author

Celina Kelly is passionate about New York, scarves, and puppies. She also loves writing about herself in the third-person. She graduated from Barnard College having double majored in English & German Literature. While a student, she worked with The New Yorker as part of the editorial department for ‘Goings On About Town’. Since she was not busy enough, she added a concentration of creative writing, completing her thesis project in the form of a yet-unpublished novel under the guidance of a bestselling author. Celina operates a retail store on the Upper West Side, where she spends most of her time. She enjoys being able to design, order and merchandise a new collection twice a year with the help of a talented staff of minions. She is also currently pursuing a certificate in Millinery at the Fashion Institute of Technology. If you ask her nicely, she might make you a hat!

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