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Help with steaming gunwales in a plastic sleeve

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Dave Osborn, Jun 7, 2021.

  1. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Hi guys
    I know some of you use the plastic baggie type tube for steaming gunwales. I hear it’s easy peasy. I’m gonna try it.
    Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned to make it easier??

    I saw a YouTube video of it, but the bend was sorta mild on a row boat. I’ll be bending a 1919 Otca (I think). It has a more severe bend than a rowboat.

    Do you bend and screw as you go? I’m sure bend and clamp works. But can’t really clamp by the decks and that’s where most of the bend is....
    Any help is appreciated!
  2. Rod Tait (Orca Boats)

    Rod Tait (Orca Boats) Designer/Builder

    I would not try to drill holes before steaming as the wood may take an unnatural curve there. Clamping would be how I would go and the beauty of leaving it in the bag is that there is no rush. Use some wood pads under clamps so that you do not dent the wood as you tighten clamps. for the ends, place a solid piece of wood across the deck and then pull each side up to this block with clamps or even over bend it a bit as there will likely be some spring back. Or you could just make a form similar to the shape you want and bend the gunwales to that in the plastic.
  3. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson Lifetime member

    Here is the solution I came up with for your problem on the same boat.
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  4. Craig Johnson

    Craig Johnson Lifetime member

    Be careful when clamping to use soft jawed clamps or put a long soft wood cushion under a metal C clamp because it is easy to crush the steamed gunwale.
    A washing machine drain hose makes a great heat resistant transition from steamer to tubing. Insert it all the way in the plastic tube and about an inch over the gunwale tip because when the tubing gets hot it gets soft and tears easily. Inserting the washer hose over the tip prevents either tearing or pinching off the steam at that point.
    Poke a small hole in the low point to allow water to drip out and not obstruct the flow of steam.
  5. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish Loves Old Maine canoes

    Did some rail caps on the last one I restored and had no issues drilling and nailing down the caps through the bag. I used a teapot on my camping stove, had plenty of steam and plenty of water left over to continue if needed. Its interesting watching the cold air get pushed out of the bag and instantly turn into hot vapor. I believe I went with the 5 mil tubing. I would recommend boots and not your flip flops as well:) during the process.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
  6. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I try to drill and screw through the tube as I bend. I first use screws one size smaller and if I can find enough use screws that I can quickly and easily put in with an electric driver (phillips / pozi).
    I start by fixing the gunnel in the centre of each side without the plastic tube for about 3 screws towards each end. I then put the tube on and steam each quarter. It's always best to have two people then you don't need clamps. If you are by yourself, you need to to put a clamp on with a pad between it and the gunnel while everything is slipping around on the hot plastic.
    I found it's a good idea to mark which ribs will have a screw through - it's quite easy to get that wrong, and obviously make sure you have heat proof gloves to handle the hot wood but which are easy to get on and off so you can pick up drills and screws and operate clamps when needed. Craigs solution works well if single handed.
  7. OP
    Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Good tips! Thanks for your help!
  8. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Hi Dave. I think you know that I use a sewer line from a camper? It has more volume and is accordianed back as I go . I use steel screws to fasten and swap them out later on. But I like the concept of fastening right through the plastic tube. Let me know how it goes, or have you already went? Best, the "General"

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