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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a project with a curved deck and stairs. The decking material is Ipe. I have heard many stories of unsuccessfull glueing of Ipe. I plan on building a steam box so I can try bending the deck boards. The smallest radius I will have to deal with is just over 11' and the larges is nearly 15'. I have two questions.

1) How wide of a board do you think I will be able to bend on edge? The main deck is 3 1/2" but I could be convinced to use narrower strips on the curved steps if need be.

2) Will I get enough steam from a wallpaper steamer rented from HD? I was there yesterday and they have an old rental they are selling for $152. I would buy it if I thought it would generate enough steam.

The house itself has a few curved sections so I milled my own Azek soffit matterial. With just a little heat it sure cuved nicely. I thought I was going to have to buy heating blankets but with such a large radius it did not take much to bend them.


Thank for any advice
Dave
 

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Curmudgeon
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Since ipe doesn't absorb water,
I'm not sure what kind of result
you can expect.
The generator doesn't have to
produce all that much steam,
you just need to build a chamber
to hold the lumber in the steam.
Put some ends on a pipe,
set it on an incline-generator at
the bottom, door at the top.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Because Ipe is so dense I would not expect it to work well with steam bending but after doing some research on line I am rethinking this. I have read several atricles about people saying they have had success with steam bending Ipe but I am sure they were not trying to bend 1"x4" on edge. I also found a paper rating different wood on bending properties and Ipe scores well. Big shock to me.

I plan on building a large enough box to steam a dozen 12' boards. I have found many sites with plans on how to build them.

Thanks for your input
 

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Design/Build Remodeling
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Because Ipe is so dense I would not expect it to work well with steam bending but after doing some research on line I am rethinking this. I have read several atricles about people saying they have had success with steam bending Ipe but I am sure they were not trying to bend 1"x4" on edge. I also found a paper rating different wood on bending properties and Ipe scores well. Big shock to me.

I plan on building a large enough box to steam a dozen 12' boards. I have found many sites with plans on how to build them.

Thanks for your input
I too am surprised by this info!:eek: We have tried to glue it with very little success - I think it's too oily!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
One way or the other I am going to give it a shot. I will post results next week after my test bend. I will take a few pictures and if I can figure out how to post them I will.

Dave
 

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2) Will I get enough steam from a wallpaper steamer rented from HD? I was there yesterday and they have an old rental they are selling for $152. I would buy it if I thought it would generate enough steam.
Target has a higher volume steamer which was inexpensive (<$40).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I tried steaming some Ipe on Friday using the steam box I built and a rented wallpaper steamer. The box is large so I can bend 12' boards and the rented steamer just didn't create enough steam. I have modified my lobster steamer and will try again on Monday with a higher volume of steam.
I will let you know how I made out.

Dave
 

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Curmudgeon
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We'll be here, waiting to hear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I tried steam bending the Ipe decking on Monday. I had my modified lobster pot and burner connected to the steam box with pex tubing.

The setup sure did create alot of steam. The box is 13'x12"x9". It is made from 3/4" ply and wrapped with 2" rigid insulation. A half asses setup but good enough for a test run. Within 20 minutes the box was 210+ degrees and steam was pouring out of the drain tube. I had several strips of Ipe in the box. 3 1/2" -2 1/2" - 2" and 1 1/2". I let them steam for nearly two hours.

I pulled the narrow strips out first and with some effort they took the shape of the 11' radius. With more effort I may have been able to force the 2 1/2" strip into place but I would not be confident it would stay there. The full size deck board had zero chance of taking any of the radii I had to bend.

Another issue I had was one of the boards came out looking terrible. It had oil coming out of it. It was a sticky mess and could never have been used for the finish product. Since I only tried several boards I don't know what percentage of them would have come out like this.

All in all I was not happy with the results. Also I had no way to tell how much water I had in the pot. I was suprised how easily an aluminum pot can melt :( I melted a six in hole through the bottom.

Tonight I took some Ipe back to my shop, ripped it to 1 1/4" strips and put it through my shaper to give it a T&G profile. It is a tapered T&G that fits together perfectly and I am hoping to laminate them together. I am wondering if I should have used my finger jointing knifes instead. I have not ready many great threads on gluing Ipe but I really don't want the treads to have several butt joints along their 14' arc.

Dave
 
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