The Journey Into DesignWoodworking

Steam Bending Kiln Dried Lumber and Angry Old Men

Steam Bent Walnut Handle

When I first wanted to incorporate steam bending into my work, I, of course, did a little research and Googled how to steam bend lumber.  I found myself reading through many argumentative old curmudgeon woodworkers’ comments in a woodworking forum, arguing over whether or not you could steam-bend kiln-dried lumber.

They thought once you kiln dry it, the wood will no longer absorb moisture, so it won’t absorb the steam, and you won’t be able to bend it.

Well, air-dried walnut was not readily available in my area, so I picked up a scrap of wood off the floor, applied some steam, bent it around a form, let it sit for a few days, and, Bam! There it is, a kiln-dried piece of walnut holding its shape.

Now I will admit that it is only an 1/8th inch thick and I did have to sand off a few splinters, and it did take a few tries to figure out how long it needed to sit in the steam.  But I was eventually successful.

What I learned from this was… People who spend their time arguing on the Internet have no life experience, and if you want to be a better woodworker and improve your woodworking skills, you should spend less time on the Internet and more time in your shop making things.

If you want to design and build better things, you need to learn what is possible, from the process to the limits of your skill and the material you are working with.

If you want to find out more on how I steam bent this handle I also have a video for that.

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.