Today was a steamy day, both for me and my wood! I spent a good part of the day bending chair legs for 10 ladderback chairs that I am building. I was only able to fit 2 back legs in my steamer which I built from schedule 80 PVC. A turkey fryer provides the fire that boils the water in an old can.
I have heard you should steam them for about an hour per inch of thickness. These pieces are 1 1/2″ thick and I left them in the steamer for only 1 hour. It worked great. The bend is not super curved plus the wood is fairly wet. I made up a form from some 2 x 6 white wood from Home Depot. The white wood is cheap and works nicely with a spokeshave to fair the curves. I then clamped it in the form and will let it sit for a couple weeks.
I hope to have a class on building a ladderback chair in the future. In the mean time you could read more about our week-long Windsor Chair Class in our blog archives. We don’t have a date scheduled yet for the next Windsor Chair class but look for it soon, the class will most likely be in the spring of 2015.
Learn more about our Windsor Chair Class here.