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Stem Bending

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by Mike Daugherty, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. Mike Daugherty

    Mike Daugherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    My first canoe. I did a practice bend and it went well. My first attempt for real ended up with cracked pieces.
    After carefully cutting new pieces to 1/4” x 7/8” I decided to soak them for an hour in hot water before steaming. It went much better and both sets of inner and outer stems are bent and drying. However, I noticed that as one might expect the pieces swelled slightly. The overall thickness of both stems has changed from 1.5” to 1.625” inches. An increase of 1/8”. So now I am concerned. As they dry will they return to near the original size? Is it going through be stable at whatever size it stabilizes at? After they are glued if the wood changes shape again could they warp?
  2. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac

    I usually soak white, red cedar, oak, ash for a week before I steam bend. Yes they swell, and soaking plus steaming raises the grain and gives the wood, particularly oak, an un-natural color.
    So I always sand another time after steam bent wood has a chance to dry to smooth the wood, take it back to its true color, and reduce thickness by a bit. Yes, wet wood will shrink as it dries, probably close to the dimensions you cut. Wood always 'moves' as it becomes wetter/drier. I don't understand glued. Little wood gets glued in traditional w/c construction.
  3. OP
    Mike Daugherty

    Mike Daugherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you for responding.
    So to be clear these are laminated stems. New questions..
    How long should I wait for drying to see if they return closer to original size? It has been 56 hours for one and 44 hours for the other.
    Sanding the individual pieces won’t change how they fit together? (They were all bent at once on the Stem mold.)
  4. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac

    Laminating up a stem is something I have not done. If bent all together over a form, so held together to dry, it's going to take some time for the inside to dry, and that's where the glue gets applied. Any chance of separating the laminae, tie a string to each end to make a bow so that the shape is maintained while drying. If the wood is thin, maybe 4-5 days before glue. If all together, maybe a couple weeks - just guessing. But then, I use epoxy and want it very dry. Some other glues, like Gorilla, are not as sensitive to moisture. Sanding the inside faces is certainly not needed in this case, but you will still be doing some final shaping after the stem is 'one piece'. The drier it is, the less it will change on you as it dries.
  5. OP
    Mike Daugherty

    Mike Daugherty Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I did remove the laminations from the forms as a group after 24 hours and made 2 stem bows, one for the stern and one for the bow.
    Are you saying to separate them and create bows of all 12 pieces?
  6. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    If I'm laminating stems it's because I don't have the time to steam bend them. Thin strips 1/8 th inch or so what ever will take the bend dry over a form. Epoxy in between each, of course put plastic on the form so it doesn't get glued to it. Leave for a day or two, remove and your done. cut to shape on the bandsaw. IMG_3491.JPG and a lot of sanding.
    MGC likes this.
  7. ReynoldsWR

    ReynoldsWR New Member

    First post here so...I just finished cold molding practice stems using air dried white oak I sawed from 4 inch thick planks I have had since yep, the mid 1960s. Used four pieces 0.220 x 2 inches and West System epoxy. They are still on the form but I expect them to be more stabile than steam bent stems. BTW, working on my first cedar canvas canoe so will be making all the rookie mistakes I'm sure.
  8. Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Welcome! Most everyone has made the mistakes you might make. The biggest mistake would be not to attempt it at all.
    mmmalmberg likes this.

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