Steam Bending Wood… and the fire in the kitchen

Steam Bending Wood… And The Fire In The Kitchen

 

Steam bending woodOne of my biggest challenges when building my trunks is the lid because it is dome shaped. If you look at the top of the trunk you will notice there are wooden slats that arc over the top. Obviously I couldn’t just bend them with mechanical force or they would crack. I did a lot of research online and found that I needed to build a stream box and buy a steam generator in order to steam bend wood.. I lacked the time and money to build a good steam box so I had to improvise a bit.

What I did was get a cheap but heavy roasting pan that would fit over two burners on my electric stove. I would then fill the pan with water and turn the burners on high, set my wood on top of the roasting pan then cover it with aluminum foil.

The wooden slats I needed to steam bend  are about 2 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick. I found that about 45 minutes of steam would get them pliable enough to bend. Tip: when steaming them flip the wood over about half way through your steam time.

The downside to this is burning your house down, one day I was bending slats on the stove and I was preoccupied doing some other work out in the shop. I was walking back and forth from the shop to the kitchen to “keep an eye on everything.” Well, I was out in the shop and I hear this beeping coming from the house and I thought what in the ____ is that. Then my mind raced to fire, to smoke alarm to my other half is going to kill me, I entered the house and was greeted with the unique smell of a wood fire and melting plastic. The smoke was not too thick but definitely present. I made it to the kitchen and found that a portion of the wooden slat was or I should say had been hanging over the edge of the roasting pan and had caught on fire from being exposed over the burner.I pulled the burning slat off of the roasting pan and tossed it elegantly into the kitchen sink. No serious damage occurred but the house smelled for about three days and my wife was not very happy to say the least.

So lesson learned, stay in the kitchen when steam bending wood, right? No. Don’t be cheap and just go buy a steam box, my wife made sure that I understood that lesson very well!

Thanks hunny!

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What Is Wood Veneer

What is wood Veneer?

 

Solid wood is so much better than veneer right? Well its really not that simple, there are many different types of wood, grades of veneer and backing applied to veneer. I want to try and break down all of the misconceptions, myths, pros and cons about veneered furniture.

[hr] What is veneer? Quality veneer is a sliced sheet (about 1/42” thick) of wood taken from the entire length of a log. It is sliced, dried and glued together to make 4×8 sheets. Some veneer sheets can be much thicker depending on their intended use and some much thinner (1/128”). The very thin veneer is used for mass produced furniture and should be avoided at all costs. The veneer may be backed with several different types of backing from no backing, paper in 10 or 20 mil thicknesses or PSA which is basically a peel and stick backing like a big sticker.

 

Wood veneer for furniture
Veneer Rolls

Generally speaking veneer sheets are applied to a piece of solid wood or high quality plywood. The wood or plywood is coated in very strong glue and then the veneer is placed on the glue and pressure is applied for up to 24 hours until the glue has hardened.

There are many different grades of veneer available on the market today ranging from AA, A, B, C, D & E with AA being the best grade of veneer. There are also backer grades which are meant for unseen or rarely seen parts or sides of furniture.

Veneered furniture may be a little more expensive than solid wood furniture but it is better in quality and appearance. It is cost prohibitive to use high grade lumber to build furniture and you get a much larger selection of quality cuts when using veneer.

Another reason to use veneer is because solid wood can be unstable. This is especially true when talking about some exacting woods and different burls or crotch cuts. The great thing about having quality plywood under veneer is that it is much more stable than solid wood. The plywood and veneer do not move as much during seasonal changes in humidity and weather. Another advantage of veneer is that it is light and bends easily without causing stress within the wood.

[pb] Most furniture pieces that are veneered are really a combination of veneer and solid wood construction. The proper use of veneer and solid wood are the key when purchasing or making furniture. High traffic areas should not be veneered such as a chair, but low or no traffic areas such as a table top or chest should be.