Steaming out dents

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  • #683852
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    Today I tried my hand at steaming out dents in a piece of wood. But it was my first time. I used a dampened sock to wet the wood, and an iron to heat the sock. Is this right? Or would you try to wet the dent first? Any technique hints would be appreciated.
    I was trying to see if I could get a dimpled effect, but I ended up with craters. I believe this techniques was used by Japanese carvers for applying a wart like look to carved toads.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    #683917
    YrHenSaer
    Participant

    That’s about right…… however I prefer to use a CLEAN cotton cloth, keep it wet and apply heat from the iron directly onto the cloth in short bursts. Dirty cloths can transfer the muck onto the wood and bake it in. Deep pits may need more than one attempt; it won’t deal with broken fibres – just dents – and some may be too deep to steam out. You’ll still need to scrape and dress that area when it has dried out sufficiently.

    The Japanese carvers’ stipple effect was done with precise hammer blows onto a punch and the surrounding areas of wood scraped down to a level plane before applying heat/steam. This raised the compressed grain and the resulting small bumps were then scraped with a fine pumice. Typically this reproduced the skin effects on toads and the like. A simple technique, but not as easy to do as it sounds.

    Hope this helps.

    #683926
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    The socks were clean, just old 🙂 I made the dents with a 20mm hardwood dowel that I rounded over the end on. I may have been a little heavy handed with the hammer though. I will see if there are any suitably round steel parts at work that I can “borrow”. I will go smaller, and more of them, just to see how it all comes out. Might be an interesting texture for a box lid.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    #683945
    YrHenSaer
    Participant

    Glad to hear the good news about the socks, Colin….!

    Seriously, the weave on cotton holds moisture better than that of wool – which doesn’t like water by its nature – and modern foot-wear contains a lot of synthetics and elastic material which can make a terrible mess on irons when it’s hot, also on the wood if it penetrates.

    The work that Japanese carvers did was mainly in miniature on hard Ebony, or Box, so in saying this, the nature of the wood and its density can have a marked effect. Tight, dense, even-grown grain is best.

    The punches that I saw used for the stipple effect were of varying sizes, so that a random appearance could be obtained and were shaped with a shallow dimple, the inverted ‘stipple’ shape in negative, surrounded by a ‘flange’ about 1/8″ wide to limit and regulate the depth of penetration.

    The idea of areas on a box for decoration sounds very good……… I hope that you can show a few pictures
    All best

    #683949
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    Sounds like I may be able to make a similar punch with carriage bolts and stacks of washers with a nut behind them. Washers limit the depth of the head when I hit the bolt.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    #684183
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    First serious prototype. Using a roller pin from an SDS Max tool holder, 8mm diameter, 4mm radius on each end, and hardened. An 8mm hole through a scrap of plywood to hold it vertical and avoid mashed fingers. The wood is spruce I believe, the force was varied (as you can see from the one dent that ended up as broken fibers rather than deformed fibers). I pinched an old tea towel from the washing basket instead of the socks. Will give it a coat or two of BLO, with some 4 ought wire wool between coats and see how it looks.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by Colin Scowen.
    #685018
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    OK, so after finishing, the box is a bit.. ‘meh!’. The dimpling was a bit hit and miss, but that is more likely to be a combination of varied grain and varied process. The dimples are very tactile though, so in that respect, it seems to have worked. But the way they hold finish and create shadows just makes me think the lid is dirty.
    So overall, it’s possible, with care, but not something I’m likely to repeat in the future. Now to take the lid off, plane it flat, replace the hinges, fill some of the gaps in the dovetails and get on with something else.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

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