PVC Steambox to Steam Wood




About: I'm a BioMechanical Engineer at Virginia Tech. I consider myself a Do-it-yourselfer, even if it takes more money and more time, I'd rather do it myself and learn something I haven't done before then have som...

This instructable will go through a step by step process of making a Steambox to steam wood. Other steambox variations are made from wood, however this was the cheaper way to do it.

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Step 1: Things You'll Need

-Section of 4" PVC pipe QTY: 1
(Mine came in a 10' section, 4" You can use bigger or smaller, this is what I chose)
-PVC 4" Cap QTY: 1
-PVC 4" Female Adapter QTY: 1
-PVC 4" Threaded Plug QTY:1
-5" Carriage Bolts QTY: 2
-Section Flexible PVC 1/2"
-PVC Primer
-PVC Cement
-Copper 1" to 1/2" fitting QTY: 1
-Moolah = Cash

-Mitre Saw
(I used a Sliding mitre saw because of the diameter of the pipe"
-1/2 and 15/64 Drill bits

Step 2: Cut Section of PVC

Cut Section of PVC to desired length. I just added a half foot to the workpieces that I'll be steaming. My tube came out at about 54 inches.

Sorry No pictures of this one.

PVC makes a ton of mess when you cut it. Cut it outside, or over a trash can or something easy to clean up. Also, 4" is alot for a miter saw to handle, so you may have to cut halfway through, and rotate it, cut doesn't have to be perfect, but try you're best.

Step 3: Prep and Add Caps to Tube

Clean the tube as well as possible. I used a paper towel. Next apply primer to the tube, I would suggest applying it when the tube is on its side, or you'll make a huge mess like my old man did when he applied the first little bad, after that he wasn't allowed to touch anything.

Apply the primer to both the end, and to the cap, quickly apply cement to cap, Don't puddle it, but be gracious with the amount applied. Apply cap QUICKLY!!! and give it a 1/4 turn.

Next the other end. Apply primer to both Female adapter and the end of the tube. Apply cement, and install same way, remember the 1/4 turn as you insert the tube into the Female adapter.

Let it cure overnight, the package only says 2 hours, however I gave it a night to set.

Step 4: Drill Holes, and Install Hardware

I drilled two holes about 1/3 and 2/3 along the pipe. I drilled both holes along the writing on the pipe as to keep them level, so the board would sit level inside.

The drill bit I used wasn't long enough to drill through the diameter of the pipe. So I measure the length from one end of the pipe, and traced marks around to the other side, you can eyeball these, as nothing in this project was done exact to a measurement. Drill holes in both sides, and insert the 2 bolts and attach nuts.

Drill the holes over a trash can, as the PVC makes a ton of mess from 2 little holes.

Now I installed the hardware off center, as to allow more room in the tube, if it goes through the center you only have so much vertical height to work with.

Two more holes must be drilled, a 1/2" hole for the steam inlet, and a 5mm hole for a vent.

Step 5: Finished Product

You've now created a steambox to use to steam wood. I'm planning on making another instructable on how to bend wood using a steam box. Stayed tuned for that installment.

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    13 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 4

    You can lay the pipe on a flat surface, secure the pipe, then lay a marking device on a 2x cut to the correct height, then drag it down the sides. Both sides will have a mark the same height off the table.

    Next, just measure from one end to mark the spacing for your holes.

    Is it possible to steam wood with glued strips? I have a clipboard that I glued wrong and it's warped.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    bending can be used in boat building and also for musical instruments


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    This is also good for people who collect surplus rifles. Steam works quite well for removing Cosmoline, a thick petroleum based preservative that is lathered on the surplus firearms before they are stored. It also helps raise various small dents or dings in the wood grains


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I know your post is a few years old, but I just saw it. My wife get's angry at me, but when I am restoring a Garand, I stick the stock in the dishwasher on the hot water cycle. Strips it right off!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, its used to make the wood plyable so that it can be shaped to a mold.


    10 years ago on Step 2

    A PVC Rope saw would give you a cleaner cut here. They're about 2 dollars at the hardware store. Just chuck the PVC up in something, or make sure it is secured to something. Put the rope saw around the spot where you want to cut it and work it through the piece in a downward motion. A whole lot safer and cleaner than a saw. You also don't risk melting the end of the PVC from the cut.


    10 years ago on Step 5

    Good post. Is wood merely soaked or is their actually steam in the box? How do you heat it? You could use a little Lacquer thinner and it will take of all the primer and the black writing written at factory.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I was thinking about doing something like this with a wall paper steamer, nice to know i was on the right track. I had to bend dowel rod for a sculpture project in school and had to use my bath tub, this would have made things much easier.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    cool, i'm in the process of making one of these right now. I'm hooking it up to a pressure cooker for the steam. =)