We Provide Steam Bending Timber and Laminating Services.
My expertise in steam bending is the result of having done a trade as a Timber Boatbuilder. I also have extensive experience with Australian Timbers and have learnt what will and what will not bend well.
How Do We Steam Bend Timber?
The timber is placed in a sealed container or box and steam is introduced via a pipe from a boiler. Usually we allow one hour for every 25mm or 1″ of thickness of timber. Depending on various factors such as the age of the timber, species and severity of the curve this can vary and only experience will indicate when the timber is ready to bend.
Once heated, the timber is bent around a specially designed form utilising a piece of flat metal about 3mm thick on the outside of the curve.
We are currently in the process of designing and building a large forming machine which will help to speed up the process and produce consistent results.
Things to Bear in Mind Steam Bending Timber
- Steam Bending is fast as it does not require a lot of cleaning up after the bending. As with any bending process, bear in mind that all bending operations require a form to bend the timber around. This of course has to be incorporated into the cost.
- As steaming increases the moisture content it is sometimes necessary to let the time dry out again. Please bear this in mind when managing your project.
- Some discolouration may occur which needs to be sanded out.
- If the bent timber is not being used straight away it needs to be held in place mechanically to overcome any problem with spring-back
- Sometimes, timber size and the radius you are bending around are simply not possible. In this case a combination of steam bending and laminating is the only option.
Laminating is achieved by cutting the timber into narrow strips and then gluing together around a form or jig.
This creates a very strong and permanent shape. It also allows very large cross sections to be made which would be too large to steam bend.
It is however a slow process. There is a lot of machining of the timber involved to get it thin enough to bend cold.
Then, once the glue has set and the shape formed, more labour is required to shape the desired profile.
On lighter coloured timbers the glue joints are highly visible which detracts from the overall effect.