Steam Bending Wood in a Microwave





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Published on May 15, 2010

details at http://www.eyeinhand.com/Marginalia/
Using a microwave oven to steam bend small pieces of wood. These are White Ash, 9 and 16 inches long, for a wooden 1880's Melonseed Skiff project. Pieces are 1.5x.5 inches thick. These will become bentwood knees to support the side decks.

Comments • 179

NIce idea but jeez, stand the other side man. If that guide bolt comes out or sheers off it's going to go through you with a hell of a whack. It might never do it, but it only has to do it once.
So cool.
Steven Mason
Very good, but how did you get the long piece in the microwave?
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Dahlia Bloom
After watching this video. I took 3/4 inch thick dowels wrapped in saran wrap, then foil paper, then repeated again. I put them in my crockpot, with 2 cups of water, on high. They didn't fit so I covered the crock pot with more foil, and a towel. I let it steam for 6 hours. I  wrapped the dowels in a towel, stepped on one end, and bent the other by hand, they were fairly supple at that point. I now have them bow shaped. That's the shape I was going for.If I was going for a horseshoe, I think I would have steamed a bit longer to be safe.Initially I was going to boil hot water and soak the wood, shaping it to the bucket, but It seemed like it would take days of working that way, especially since the dowels are thick, and not thinner. I'd like to try it again though. Just a thought for any DIY person like me, who doesn't have hi tech gadgets lol..
That looks dangerous as fuck for the long pieces..
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How did you heat the long piece? It obviously wont fit in the microwave
Shake hands with danger, man. How do you secure the leverage arm so it doesn't spring back and castrate you? Your trust in the indestructibility of bolts and lumber is terrifying. Just because that wood is wet (and hot) doesn't mean there isn't a ton of potential energy waiting to snap back on you. One more thing; there are no trees any more so old or remote that they cannot have a bullet or nail embedded in them from the Revolution. Having a metal detector in your shop is no more unusual than a microwave, and might lower your fire insurance. Your medical insurance is a function of your shop practices. Were I your agent, I'd be raising your rates...a lot.
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Lantern Lab
You just saved the day. I have to bend one piece of wood for a trim piece on a project and had worked out a super complicated way to do it before seeing your video. Now I'm going to build a better form and try this instead.
Eduardo Laranjeira
Must easier if you put some amonia clorure in to the water.A product like like glass cleaner.
P. Drizzle
when he removed that metal ruler I thought it was going to slip and go flying across the room
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