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CAUTION --- Hot, Steamy Tech (with Pics)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 34FordConv, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. 34FordConv
    Joined: Oct 31, 2007
    Posts: 185


    I'm building a 34 Ford Cabriolet Jalopy and I needed a new tack strip for the top. After sourcing several, I found that the new inserts were all plastic material. Well, plastic in the hot sun with a canvas top stretched taught against the tacks would not be good as the plastic would soften enough to allow the tacks to loosen.
    I decided to try my hand at steam-bending wood to make a solid wood tack strip.

    Here's what I came up with.


    1. Container to boil water in. (I used a 25 gallon barrel)
    2. Tube to direct the steam to your steam closet
    3. Steam Closet ( I used a piece of alluminum tube ) (ABS Pipe or a metal box or anything to contain your steam will work)
    4. Wood to bend ( I used a piece of oak door trim)
    5. A form to hold your wood to the desired shape.
    6. Water
    7. Fire

    I got a 25 gallon barrel with a clamp on lid (sourced for free from a brother-in-law that works in shipping and recieving at an un-named company). I soldered a piece of copper tube in the lid of the barrel that I could push a rubber hose on to direct the steam to my steam closet.

    I had a piece of alluminum tube roughly 6 inch by 8 feet. I drilled some small holes in the sides and put pieces of steel coat hanger through to hold the wood off the bottom of the tube to allow the steam to surround the wood. No matter what you use for a steam closet be sure you can susspend the wood to allow the steam to surround and penetrate the wood. I drilled a half inch hole in the side near one end to allow the excess steam to escape.

    DO NOT seal your closet you must allow the steam to escape or BOOM!

    The ends of the tube were plugged with rags and the delivery hose pushed in one end past the rag.

    The Barrel was set in a fire pit, filled about half way with water and the fire lit.

    Here's the setup at work.


    Notice the steam escaping from the upper end of the steam closet

    I cut the lower rounded edge from the door trim with a table saw to use as my tack strip.
    Cut an extra piece to use as a test piece to gauge the readiness of the wood for bending.



    The wood will go limp when it's ready and you can twist and mould it any way you like.
    Be sure to wear gloves cause it will be darned HOT.
    Steam burns are probably one of the worst burns you can get.

    I steamed this piece for about 2 and a half hours.

    Once your test piece shows signs of being ready to shape, be prepared to clamp your piece to your form you need to be as quick as possible.

    Use scrap wood to clamp against and only clamp where you need to. The steamed wood will crush under the clamps and hold that form so clamp only to hold it in place, not too tight.



    Let your wood cool and dry over night and that's it.


    You can also get the same from just boiling the wood if you have a large enough container to place it directly in the boiling water.

    You can steam your own bows, headers, tack strips, whatever. You could even make wooden mouldings for your ride if you wanted

    DO NOT stem laminated wood, it will just come apart.

    I steamed my header as well.



    Here's the tack strip bolted to the car with counter sunk heads.



    I hope this inspires you and helps with your ride.

  2. cleatus
    Joined: Mar 1, 2002
    Posts: 2,277

    from Sacramento

    Pretty clever for a Canadian :)
    Stogy likes this.
  3. 34FordConv
    Joined: Oct 31, 2007
    Posts: 185


    Thanks Cleatus, Our brains thaw out a little in the summer :D
    Stogy likes this.
  4. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    Member Emeritus

    Now that's a clever piece of tech. So now we have no excuse for not replacing those odd shaped pieces of wood that seem to always be rotted away on these old cars.


  5. 34FordConv
    Joined: Oct 31, 2007
    Posts: 185


    Thanks fab32 - You can shape any piece by boiling or steaming the wood. You just have to be sure it's ready to shape by using a test piece and checking it often.
    I've read that a rule of thumb is 1 hour steaming for each half inch of thickness.
  6. RAY With
    Joined: Mar 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,133

    RAY With

    Unique solution but simple. Never thought of a rig like you have there. Thanks for sharing . Great post like this is just another HAMB perk!
  7. 34FordConv
    Joined: Oct 31, 2007
    Posts: 185


    Thanks Ray with ... Is that your roadster in your avitar? Any more pics of it?
  8. zzford
    Joined: May 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,823


    Nice tech. It won't work down here in Florida, though. We don't have any of the big boulders that are pictured.
  9. 34FordConv
    Joined: Oct 31, 2007
    Posts: 185


    HA! :) My wifes idea of art .... A rock ... go figure ... I wanted to put a Model A four door in the yard for art ... but that got shot-down so a rock it is ... And I had to move it twice now (with my jd crawler).... That sucker is heavy!v :D
    Stogy likes this.
  10. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 5,020


    Very good idea:D Thanks

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