Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hot Air Wood Bending

NOTE to readers:
This particular post has gotten the most traffic of all my posts for a while now.  Is there really that much interest in wood bending?  I would remove it if I thought that this post draws readers to my page by mistake, but then again, I'm willing to leave it up with the hope that would-be wood benders might also be interested in kayak building.  So other than that this page skews the statistics for this blog, no real harm done.  Hot air wood bending, really? Who would have known.

Steam bending of long pieces of wood requires a long steam box and a lot of time to get the steam box heated up.  So unless you intend to steam a lot of pieces, waiting for the box to heat is a pain.  Instead, we did some hot air bending.  The wood, black acacia had soaked to the point of sinking and so was thoroughly saturated with water.  So with a hot air gun and lots of clamps, we heated a few inches of wood at a time, bent, clamped and then moved on.  Simplicity itself.
Heat the inside.

Heat the outside, bend and clamp.
All done.  Wait for the thing to dry, remove clamps and glue.


Eric said...

How did you guys come up the Black Wood Acacia? I have done a few small scale projects with some I "harvested" from some pruning work, and I think it is beautiful and nice to work with. Just wondering if you came upon a supply of larger stock. Black wood acacia seems an idea wood to use since it is considered by some to be noxious weed.

Wolfgang Brinck said...

There is a bunch of acacia growing near the shop. Some prior resident sawed it down and suckers grew back up out of the stump. We used suckers about 3 inches in diameter. Larger stock would have been nice but there wasn't any. Using the acacia was mostly an experiment. It wasn't ideal since it had a lot of knots but it worked well enough.

Eric said...

Thanks for your response! I wish there was more of this wood available, as it grows fast, locally. and requires little water to grow, (as opposed to White Oak which seems to only be shipped from east of the rockies) while it also seems to have great boat building properties. Are you familiar with other woods which are comparable to white oak but available closer to home?

Wolfgang Brinck said...

I hear black locust is good or even better than white oak and grows on the west coast though it isn't native here.
I have also used poplar which bends well but isn't as strong as white oak. I also don't know how rot resistant it is.