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H&M were about to marry, and I was entrusted the building of a wedding arch . I had access to little workshop, but not much time nor financial support . I couldn't build something too technically difficult, but still I wanted curves ! And modern shapes .  So i dig up an old dream I had, to make my own steam machine to bent wood . It worked fine, and was a really interesting experiment .

We must be able to take the arch apart, so separate pieces can be easily transportable by car . It has to be strong enough to be then installed in H&M's Garden, and ground fixable so the wind won't put it down .

Hopefully, I was given some ash wood by a friend, and started the building .

Step 1: Building the Steam Machine.

I built the first prototype for my steam machine, using a galvanized metallic tube, a pressure cooker and some planks .  The pipe to conduct the steam is a gas pipe. It comes really soft with the heat, but doesn't melt .

The machine takes half an hour to get hot, you need to put enough water in the cooker, but then, in less than ten minutes, your wooden strips become soft as chewing gum . Though, the softness only lasts a couple of minutes, even less i think, so you've got to shape it really quickly .

Step 2: Placing Volutes on the Frame

I had prepared something like twenty strips  . 1m20 long, 20mm width, 6mm thick .  I built my frame out of ash too, assembled it using dowels and outdoor acrylic glue . It is composed of three ladders . They are assembled with pegs on the front, and screws on the back . Angles are reinforced with hidden galvanized brackets , so the ||  || doesn't go //  // .

The volutes are screwed and outdoor-glued to the frame . I first made them and placed them all with clamps, to define their final positions, and then fixed the whole thing .

I oiled the final result to give it a natural looking protection . I also wanted to experiment oil as outdoor prtection . Requires annual oiling, and the ash turns out to become gray when placed outside, even with oil . But it's a simple, risk-free, cheap, environnment friendly, satin-looking finishing, who gives the wood a nice natural touch . You got it, il love oiling wood .

Step 3:

Here we go ! the wedding arch, set up in H&M's garden,  after the ceremony . Hope you like it, feel free to share your opinions, questions, anything . It's been one year now, and the wood colour is turning to a nice grey.

I'd add that this job was inspired by the work of Matthias pliessning and the experimentations of Adrien Angebault .
I would love to see how the steamer is put together. Could you perhaps give a little more info on how you put it together and what supplies are needed? Also, did you cut the strips yourself or are they available at home improvement stores? Love the finished product!!!
Lovely work! I'd no idea a steam former could be so simple. *thinks of many bentwood projects*
Thanks ! I also dream of having time to think and make hundreds of other bent wood projects, but for now the machine keeps sleeping in my garage .

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