Posted December 9, 2013
I have used this unit several times now. It heats my steambox easily and costs me less than twenty cents per hour to operate. I can use it in my basement workshop without having to worry about open flames and homemade equipment. I built a steambox similar to the one described in the included plan. The plans recommend installing weatherstripping on the door. If you don't, too much steam may escape. Not just any weatherstripping will do! The foam stuff will not work. I cut inch and a half wide strips from a thorn-resistant bicycle inner tube [thorn resistant tubes are much thicker than standard tubes] and fastened them to the inside of the door with galvanized staples. This works very well. Don't forget to drill other holes in the box for steam flow and drainage.
Posted November 26, 2013
I wish I had purchassed it a year ago. I give it 5 stars
I got mine from a friend...
Posted August 16, 2012
I got mine from a friend and after a meltdown of the PVC tube I was using, I utilized a 5 foot by 6" dia. section of galvanized ductwork that with end caps and a slope, work flawlessly and is very easy to build. Bending strips for former glue-ups in a full scale WW1 biplane project.
As a woodworker, I have struggled...
Posted April 15, 2012
As a woodworker, I have struggled for years with different types of steam bending setups. This unit is not only extremely easy to setup and use, it allows up to 2 hours of steam which is more than enough for most bending projects. This tool is a welcomed addition to my shop.
When I first saw this kit,...
Posted December 29, 2011
When I first saw this kit, I was skeptical that this tiny plastic box could put out enough heat to get the job done. It takes a lot of energy to turn water into enough live steam to bend wood with, & all of the steamers I'd seen involved one of those 5 zillion BTU propane burners like New Englanders use for clam bakes. Having now used that little box with the 1500W heater to bend white oak like it was a wet noodle, I'll say I'm a believer. BTW, if you're not intimately familiar with the dangers involved in working with live steam, watch out or you'll end up with severe burns! The kit includes all of the hardware you'll need besides screws, but there are a few other bits you'll want to pick up before you start. I started out with some ¾ hickory scraps & built the steam box. Then I ran over to the Big Box to get some weatherstrip. Having built the box & glued it with Titebond III, I left it overnight &, next morning, proceeded to fire up the steamer. I quickly found that gluing a 1 length of tubing into the drain hole would have been a great idea, as the water would run out the hole, then along the low corner of the box & drip anywhere other than into the can I had put there to catch it. Also, the plan hadn't made fully clear the importance of sealing the inside of the box against moisture. Over the next 1/2 hour, I watched the box warp & twist into something from a Salvador Dali painting! O.K., lesson learned! Plywood is my friend & epoxy my blood brother. As for the steam box: gentlemen, we can rebuild it, we have the technology. I reused the hardware & a few wood parts, but this time I used birch marine ply for the box & coated the inside faces with epoxy. I also made sure to seal all surfaces that would be exposed to steam, including the steam vents, drain, holes for the dowel support racks, & the hole for the meat thermometer (oh, yeah, that's one more bit of hardware you'll want to get). The box was reassembled & the seams were sealed with a bead of epoxy. Why, you ask, didn't I just use a length of ABS pipe from the store? Well, ABS doesn't look half as sexy or smell very good in the woodshop. Wood is also a better insulator, and, most importantly, I need a door on the box that's fast & easy to open & close. A pipe with a screw-on cap just can't compete with a nice wooden box. So, back to the story! I fired up Steam Box Mark II the next morning, and, lo and behold, the boiler puts out enough steam to heat the cold end of the box (near the door & steam vents) to about 190°F! Having fiddled with the draw catch on the door & nearly gotten burned a couple of times, I made a small handle to keep the door-opening hand clear of the escaping steam. I did a few test bends on the bent-handle carrier (free downloadable plan on the more info tab) & found the job goes a whole lot easier if you use a bending strap. Once I made one from some perforated galvanized stuff they had at the local Big Box, I was able to turn out a handful of perfectly bent handles from some kiln-dried oak that had been lurking in the scrap bin. The boiler holds about 2 hours worth of water, & if you do need to refill it, you just turn it off long enough to stop boiling, fill it, & turn it back on. The box will only lose about 10° in the process if you don't open it, so the wood will still be kept hot until you get fresh steam. Overall, I'd say that for the convenience of having a rough plan to follow, the hardware components to make the box, & a convenient (and safe!) steam source that's actually designed for this sort of job, this kit is easily worth the money for the home-shop woodworker or occasional professional wood bender. I'll try to post some photos sometime soon. A highly recommended accessory for this kit would be any wood bending book by Lon Schleining. I heard a lecture of his a while back, & the guy really knows his stuff he'll save you a lot of frustration & trial-and-error.