Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bending wood

I'm still doing wood work in the master cabin, and I've been focusing in the bed.

The bed sits on a chest of drawers ( twelve drawers in total). Because our sink is in the master cabin, the walking path between the bed and sink needed to be "just so" in order for me to feel comfortable walking between the two. I moved the bed aft off the center line about 7 inches. The other design feature I wanted to build into the bed was having radius corners at the foot board to help navigate between the sink and the bed. It's amazing how more comfortable it is to walk past a radius corner vs a right angle corner. This, like other projects on the boat, is a fight for inches.

My first inclination was to cut multiple kerfs in the radius pieces to achieve the bend. Because one will see those kerf cuts, I decided not to go that route. I decided to laminate multiple pieces together and bend them around a form.

I re sawed stock into 1/8" staves to get the pieces I would need to do the laminating. I had problems cold bending the staves so I decided to steam bend them with a thrown together steamer and steam box.

I built the steamer out of a piece of square tubing witch I fabricated a base, a lid, and a nipple to accept a piece of radiator hose. The steam box was built out of duct tape and some old 2" rigid insulation I had laying around. I drilled some 1/4" holes in the side of the box to insert welding rods to make shelves for the lumber to sit on. My wife's meat thermometer put a high tech look to the whole contraption.

Once the box got up to 212 degrees, it only took about 20 minutes for the wood to act like a piece of rubber. I had to work quick to get the glue on then get the pieces bent around the form. Another person sure would have been handy, but I managed to pull it off.

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