How to Bend Wood Dowels

Written by jennifer rose
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How to Bend Wood Dowels
Bending wood dowels allows you to create customised projects. (dowel image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

Bending wood dowels customises them to the specific shape required for a project. Steam bending is a method of wood dowel bending. Although steam bending does not require expertise, preparation and practice will most likely be required as it may take a few attempts to get the process timing correct. Different types of wood dowels bend more easily than others. Certain woods are very difficult to bend without breaking. Dowels made from straight grained wood are the easiest to manipulate. Steam-bent wood dowels are stronger and less likely to break.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wood dowel
  • Steam chamber
  • Wood scraps
  • Gloves
  • Professional grade wood clamp

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  1. 1

    Place the wood dowel inside the steam chamber, balancing it on top of the wood scraps to keep the wood dowel from touching the top and sides of the chamber and coming in contact with the surrounding condensed water.

  2. 2

    Turn on the steam source and allow the steam to take effect on the wood dowel. A general rule of timing is one hour for each inch of thickness of the wood dowel. Adjust the exact time required as needed.

  3. 3

    Remove the wood dowel carefully from the steam chamber using leather or another appropriate heat-resistant pair of gloves.

  4. 4

    Place the wood dowel in the form and put it in a professional grade wood clamp immediately to begin bending it to the required shape.

  5. 5

    Clamp the newly bent wood in the form and leave it there until it has completely cooled and retained its new shape.

Tips and warnings

  • Hardwoods require longer steaming periods than softwoods.
  • The steam chamber must have a venting hole or pressure release valve to prevent the build-up of air pressure as this can be very dangerous.

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