Steam Bending Wood For Inlay
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January 14, 2015

I am having a great time in the shop utilizing the time tested technique of steam bending wood for two custom Walnut drop-leaf sofa tables. I needed to inlay Wenge stringing, or lines, around the edges of the table tops, which include tightly radiused corners. It is necessary to steam the Wenge lines to make them flexible enough to bend around the corners without breaking. So I made a bending former, which exactly matches the shape the line will hold when layed into the table top. I then steamed the lines inside my home made contraption: a hot plate, a kettle and various bits of PVC tubing (see photo). The Wenge lines were steamed for about 40 minutes. The steam softens the lignin in the wood which allows the vessels to slide over each other. Once I took the line out of the steamer, I clamped it against the jig, then left it cool, after which it helld the curves.

Please watch the video my wife, Laura, took of me steaming and bending the Wenge lines:

In a couple of weeks I will show you how the tables are coming along and you will see the final tranformation once the tables are finished.

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