Thursday, September 16, 2010

Confession is Good for the Soul


Here goes nothing.

I've had lots on my mind of late. I think it is starting to show in spots.

I've been working on things for my canoe building class and the school in general. I've got things going on at home and would be lying if I said that there wasn't a lot going on at work, too. For whatever reason, I decided that I'd fire up the steam generator and bend some of my cherry I've cut for the coamings on the kayak.

Recalling the canoe building class with Jerry Stelmok up at the WoodenBoat School, I remembered that dry wood - like the mahogany that we used for gunwales, needs to be soaked before steaming to avoid simply tempering the wood and ending up with hot, brittle wood.

For this eventuality, I made some soak chambers from a 2" piece of ABS pipe with threaded caps on the ends. The "steam box" was another piece of 2" ABS pipe.

Before I left for work this morning I had a moment that Click and Clack of NPR's Car Talk would have described as "unguided by the thought process". I wanted to prepare the wood for steaming this evening by soaking it first. So, I took some pieces of cherry I'd cut for the purpose and put them in the tube, filled the tube with water and plugged the end. Simple, right?

Well, I came home form work this evening and had dinner. After dinner, I set up the "steam box" and the steam generator to bend the wood. I then went to the soak tank to extract a few pieces of the wood to steam.

I repeat - I then went to the soak tank to extract a few pieces of the wood to steam.

Nothing was moving out of the tank.

Mental note - don't put too much wood in the soak tube - when wet, it EXPANDS.

A lot.

The pieces of wood were not that tight in the tube, but when I filled it with water, they expanded so much that I couldn't pull them out of the tube.

I did finally smarten up a bit - I used the soak tank as the steam box and when the wood was heated, it shrank allowing me to pull the wood from the tube. The hot wood bent like a noodle.

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