How to Bend Ash Wood

Overview

Ash is a hard wood that has been frequently used for curved elements because it bends easily when steamed. Hockey sticks are traditionally made of ash because of the curve in the stick blade. Other common items made from ash include snowshoes, boat components such as ribs and planks, and curved chair backs or other furniture components. Ash is hard, straight-grained and has good shock-absorption properties. With a simple steaming rig and the appropriate bending jig, you can easily bend ash.

Step 1

Select the ash to be bent. Ash should be straight and smooth-grained with absolutely no knots, as the wood may split or crack at a knot during the bend. Air-dried ash that has retained some moisture will be easier to bend than kiln-dried wood.

Step 2

Drill a hole in the steel pipe large enough to insert the steam hose from the wallpaper steamer to begin making your steaming apparatus. The pipe needs to be long enough to hold the entire piece of lumber you are bending.

Step 3

Slip the steam hose into the pipe, and turn on the wallpaper steamer.

Step 4

Plug one end of the pipe with a rag and allow the steamer to warm up and begin producing copious amounts of steam.

Step 5

Slip the wood into the pipe, and plug the other end with rags. Steam the wood for one hour per inch of wood thickness.

Step 6

Remove the lumber from the steamer. Use gloves, as the wood will be hot.

Step 7

Place the steamed wood in the jig as quickly as possible, and tighten down the jig. The exact process will depend on the jig.

Step 8

Allow the wood to cool. Once it is cool to the touch, remove the curved piece of ash from the jig.

Things You'll Need

  • Steel pipe
  • Wallpaper steamer
  • Drill and drillbits
  • Ash lumber
  • Rags
  • Gloves
  • Bending jig

References

  • Cornwall Austin Seven Club: Bending Ash Frames
  • Woodweb: Best preparation for bent ash
  • Value Created Review: Wood Bending and Forming
  • Primitive Ways: Steam Bending Wood
  • The Wood Box: Ash
Keywords: woodworking techniques, bent wood techniques, traditional woodworking

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.