How to Steam Bend a Cane Handle

Written by benjamin skinner | 13/05/2017
How to Steam Bend a Cane Handle
Canes can be made from many different types of wood successfully. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The most difficult part of making a solid wood cane is bending the handle to the correct shape. With just a handful of tools and access to a kitchen or camp stove, you can create your own custom cane with a handle of any shape you desire. A bent cane handle can be created in just a few hours of work.

Presoak the end of your cane for a week before attempting the bending process.

Lay a 4 x 4 block of wood on its side and draw the shape you want your cane to be. A half-circle shape is the standard cane design and the easiest one to create. Mark two points at the edge of your 4 x 4 between 4 and 8 inches apart. Position a compass in the centre of these two points and connect the points with an arc made by rotating the pencil around the compass. Cut this arc out of your 4 x 4 block with a jigsaw, creating a curved cane form.

Fill a very tall pot up with water and bring it to a rolling boil. Insert the end of your wood and leave it in the pot for at least 30 minutes to become more pliable.

Lay the heated end of your cane in front of the notched form you cut out of the 4 x 4 block. Apply a clamp around the end of the 4 x 4 and the opposite side of the cane, sandwiching the cane and the block together. Slowly increase the pressure of your clamp by turning the handle so that the cane is pulled up in to the form and bent in the rounded half-circle shape of the handle.

Follow the half-circle or your form out from the centre where your first clamp is installed to the outside edges and apply two additional clamps, sandwiching the handle at two more points. The clamps should be located just after the point where the handle begins to bend, and again at the point at the very end of the curve of the handle. This ensures that the handle has a nice rounded look when it is finished drying.

Leave the cane in this position for a week in a dry environment. It will hold the shape of the notch you cut and you will have your new cane handle.


Use a comfortable cane handle to create a good template for your new cane.


Wear protective gloves while handling the cane after it has been heated with steam.

Things you need

  • Straight staff
  • 4 x 4 block of wood at least six inches long
  • Jigsaw
  • A pot at least 16" tall
  • Three bar clamps

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