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Steam bending snow shoes

January 4, 2011

As I promised, I did try some more steam bending.  The results were mixed, but I do have some pictures.

As you can see the bend failed.  I haven’t done a whole lot of bending,  and I am not sure exactly what the problem was.  The choices are 1) didn’t steam long enough 2) cut the strips with the wrong grain orientation   3) put too many strips into the steam chamber and there was not enough steam circulation.   I don’t think it was number 1.  But it could have been either of the second two.  I have tried gluing the splits and will take a few more pictures tomorrow.

Steaming and bending are very interesting,  I would certainly like to get better at it.  I made a decent small fish net last summer from steam bent wood.  But it does take practice.  Long ago, my grandfather made lobster pots.  The steamer is still in the shop above the blacksmith forge, but he didn’t do it for more than a winter or two.  It was time consuming and labor intensive.  The sled that I use to collect wood in the snow has runners that I bent with steam last year.  The bends were not very clean and I was going to make another pair, but they work so maybe I won’t make new until the old need to be replaced.

Anyway,  Robe, the gym teacher and my part-time assistant in the shop gave me some old school (they are literally “old school” in that they were used by our school long ago)  snow shoes.  They are HUGE.  My plan is to make a much smaller pair, but I want them to look old school.  That requires using even thicker wood than what I have used so far.   I’ll keep at it and keep you apprised.

On an unrelated note, there was an article in last Sunday’s Boston Globe (the G Section) which described the efforts of local shop teachers to reintroduce wood shop classes to public schools.  Unfortunately, you have to pay to see the online version.  So, here are the citation and the abstract:  If you haven’t tossed your Sunday Globe yet, take a look.


Boston Globe – Boston, Mass.

Author: Linda Matchan
Date: Jan 4, 2011
Start Page: G.12
Abstract: Shop reinforces math and science and social studies and problem-solving skills, said Kellman, head of the 60-member New England Association of Woodworking Teachers, an impassioned organization with no dues and two meetings a year. Woodshop classes “are where they pull everything together, all the stuff they learned in math and science like how metal contracts or wood expands and dries,” said Kellman, who is writing a master’s thesis at Salem State University on the demise of hands-on technology education.
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