Getting ready for some serious steam bending

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All set to steam bend these beauties in an exciting project to design and build a pavilion for garden designer Tom Hoblyn at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

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Steam bending is an ancient boat building technique, I learnt building traditional wooden boats in Norway. For this project we have built a very long steam box which lifts off once the wood is up to heat. You can see the piece of wood inside the box and the pulley to lift the box off quickly. Once the wood is hot, it is very hard to handle but it is malleable – if you are strong and bend it quickly before it cools down.

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This is the former we are bending the wood around with my good friend Jim Tory in action.

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This is the arm we use to push the wood round.  It gives good purchase but takes a lot of strength.  Most of the rings and arcs I make for my furniture are turned with a mechanised Ringmaker which I built with my brother-in-law James Powell who is an engineer.

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Here it is before the steam box went on. A lot of fine-tuning is going on now to get the wood to take the form without cracking. The knots in the wood are knot helpful.

Great to have this wonderful barn to work in and a great team with Jim, Christoph Kurzmann and some others who are coming along to add muscle power for the bends.

Love a challenge – especially if it involves steam bending solid timber!

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