Steam Bending A Bench

I did this job a few months ago but just getting round to putting some pictures of it up. The job was to do a steam bent bench and panelling in a sauna. The sauna was on the grounds of an estate and all the timber was from trees that were on the land.

We got all the timber rough sawn. It's a shift though, we straightened one edge then squared it all up. Next I planed it down to the thickness we were looking for then set about steam bending.  

My steam bending set up is as redneck as it comes. I use a 4" soil pipe (new and unused) then put an end cap on each side, I cut a hole in one of the sides to put in the hose from a wallpaper steamer and make sure to drill a hold in the pipe to let out the steam. I think if it builds up it could explode or something like that. I would put in one of the alder pieces for about 45 minutes to an hour and it would bend nicely. The timber had knots here and there and I managed to snap a few slats. Steam bending is a funny thing and pretty amazing when the wood actually bends. The alder slats in the pics above are about 40mm x 25mm so it wasn't small twigs I was bending. Worked out fine.

I thought I had some pictures of my steam bending apparatus but they're somewhere, I have all these pictures on hard drives or in the dropbox or on iCloud and its hard to track shit down. I'll find them though and put them on the Facebook page sometime. You get the idea.

The panelling above was all oak. We got it in the same condition, all rough sawn and had to straighten, plane and thickness. It came out nice and some of the figuring was pretty nice, the pictures aren't excellent. Its all tongue and grooved then glued and pinned with 23 gauge pins. I had to take a compressor but there was no power at the sauna, it's in the middle of nowhere. So I had two thoughts, first was to fill up the compressor and drive down to the sauna and use up the air in the compressor. first thing I thought was that I would crash and the compressor would blast me through the roof and into space. I don't think that would happen but you never know. The second option was to use my power invertor onto the car battery and power it that way. I chose the second option and it worked great, I didn't want to risk getting smashed through the roof of the car either so it worked out best in every way.

There was 3 small windows too, the owner had the glass so I used the same oak and made some wee small window frames. I like how they turned out, I like how the whole job turned out. The pegs that you see were fitted as they are in the photo. I fitted, tidied up and left, I got the call "It looks great.......except the pegs" I think I must have picked them up wrong, it wasn't a big deal, I popped down and cut them down to about 75mm long and added more between the ones in the pic. Everyone was pleased and it was a nice stylish sauna changing room. 

The bench was alder, the windows and panelling was oak. If you're going to be steam bending it's easier if you choose some clear timber with no knots. I think the knots and small kinks worked well in this mystical little sauna down in the woods though.

***Just to let you know that if you are in Glasgow this weekend, Friday 2nd of October to Sunday 4th of October. I'm going to have some whisky barrel skateboards for sale along with some boards I collaborated on with a Glasgow streetwear brand Fakie Apparel. Theres a lot of talented companies selling their goods. Pop in and have a look if you are in the ares. The Studio, 8 Dixon Street, Glasgow.***

Posse out #15ingramcrew