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Thread: Wallpaper steamer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    se pa (Bristol PA)
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    1,965

    Default Wallpaper steamer

    We had the whole setup years ago steam box, a beer keg, and a big outdoors burner. Stuff was sitting in my basement for years. I now have a boat to restore and I'll be needing to bend white oak or ash.

    So by time I do all that all over again should I just get a wallpaper steamer? Oh, and yes I'm aware of the plastic bag method although may not use it.
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    New jersey
    Posts
    2,435

    Default Re: Wallpaper steamer

    I'm just south of you in Woodbury nj. Paddle my SOF Kayak out of my yard on Woodbury creek to the river. I recently made two trout nets out of ash. Got a 10.00 wallpaper steamer off Craigs, piped it into a pvc tube and bent away. Worked great. Not sure how big a piece of stock it would do but that thing does put out some steam. It's worth a try.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    se pa (Bristol PA)
    Posts
    1,965

    Default Re: Wallpaper steamer

    B14 thank you! That was exactly what I wanted to know!
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    West Wales, UK
    Posts
    397

    Default Re: Wallpaper steamer

    I've bent both ash and oak (European) using a wallpaper stripper and a length of ground drainpipe. You just need to keep an eye on the water level, as the tanks aren't very big. I've since been given a second stripper, so when I next need to steam large quantities (I have a lot of cracked ribs to replace), I'll run them in tandem, sequentially.
    Nick

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Modesto, CA
    Posts
    543

    Default Re: Wallpaper steamer

    I tried a wallpaper steamer when I first set out to bend a staub of wood. 20mm x 40mm x 2m. Turned out to be a dismal failure: not enough steam in my steam box. Being at the time an absolute newbie, I'm not sure exactly what forces were at play to produce failure. I have since purchased a steamer from Rockler. Good for about 2 hours of steam. I've also become sold on using lay-flat tubing instead of a steam box. I feel I can get very good control of the bend with the tube: I use spacers to augment the bend, so that the spring-back becomes the curve I want, and elsewhere spacers to produce a reverse curve to straighten the bend out where needed. The tube gives me the time needed to set the bend, unlike the 4 minute window coming out of the steam box. I still am mindful of time-in-steam, so as not to produce a brittle stick. In sum: I'm sold on the method.
    "... the door was ajar, and the game was afoot." Lawrence Block

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
    Posts
    10,426

    Default Re: Wallpaper steamer

    A long square section wooden steam box built of shelving pine with cross rods of wooden broom handles plus a pressure cooker over a BBQ works just fine! It was the steam box set up of preference for most home builders of the past. The cross rods keep the wood out of the bottom of the box and in the middle where the steam is most effective.

    An even simpler approach is to use stove pipe, laid on a slant between a couple of horses, with a cap on the low end and a ladder frame to lay the stock on. The pipe method is fast and can be insulated with burlap matting or glass insulation material. The end cap can be made in the home shop by hammering a sheet iron disk over a wooden disk form to bend the flange. Or, a sheet metal shop can do the job in a few minutes. The flanged cap can be either soft soldered, boiling water won't melt the solder, or silver soldered using a propane torch if you plan to run out of water and cook that puppy. Stove pipe makes for a quick and dirty set up and can work just fine. The insulation makes it more efficient.
    Jay

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Lawson, Missouri, Ray
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Wallpaper steamer

    I built an 8 foot long box out of cheap white pine using 1x6 and I bent all of my white oak for the frames on the Haven I'm building. Used the wallpaper steamer and it worked well.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    New jersey
    Posts
    2,435

    Default Re: Wallpaper steamer

    The Rockler steamer is really identical to my wallpaper steamer. It easily handled stock of the dimensions you used. Must have been something wrong with your setup or a mechanical malfunction. For $10.00 on Craig's list you have to give it a try.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Modesto, CA
    Posts
    543

    Default Re: Wallpaper steamer

    It was possibly a mechanical malfunction in the steamer. It may also have something to do with the fact that I was trying to steam in mid-winter, with the ambient temperature in the high 40s. It may also have something to do with my steam box: after I built it, I re-read some of the instructional texts on how to build one, and found the instruction to only glue the wood, not to screw it. But the wood itself was definitely fire-wood grade material -- began splitting as soon as the steam hit it.

    I'm not so much averse to using a steam box, but I feel I have more control over the bend by using the lay-flat tubing method. This way, I'm not trying to get the wood out of the box and into its complex curve all inside a 4-minute window of opportunity. The added benefit is that I don't hae to store a steam box when not using it.
    "... the door was ajar, and the game was afoot." Lawrence Block

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