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Childs chair bending top rail

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whatknot

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St Alberts chair 1 (Small).JPG
Hi all

I inherited a childs school chair from the school I attended many moons ago

My eldest sister was the last headmistress of that school and kindly gave me two

They were stored in a garage for some ten years or so and when I fetched them out the damp (I suspect) caused the top rail to try and straighten itself , the second chair wasn't quite so bad

Now I know about steaming to bend wood but don't have a steamer, I could make up a pipe steamer I guess but it wouldn't accommodate the shape of this rail

Any suggestions on how to bend it back into shape?

Would soaking be any good?
 

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That would work

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Thing is, as I'm sure you realise, the whole piece will need to be softened otherwise you'll end up breaking it at some point.
So take the arm off. You could boil it to soften for bending if you have a suitable container.
 

whatknot

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Oh yes I realise it needs removing and then bending after ???

I hadn't thought of boiling it rather than just soaking it

Would boiling be much better than just soaking for a prolonged period do you think?
 

MikeG.

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You can steam using a bag, rather than something solid. If you have access to a heavy duty plastic bag, or can make one out of some sheet plastic (it doesn't have to resist high pressure, so folded over and over edges will work), then steaming it should be fairly easy. However, before you start, make yourself some formwork and really think through your clamping arrangements. Also, strip the finish.
 

whatknot

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Thanks for that

I can't think what to use to steam though, I had one of those little steamers but its long gone now, short of a kettle I can't think what else to use and sourcing something is out of the question for now at least

There isn't much finish left to be fair, after storage for all those years and it may only have had wax polish on it before

I have a form in mind so that shouldn't be a problem

Its one of those jobs I have been meaning to do for a long time, now I have the time
 

MikeG.

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A kettle without a thermostat would do the job. A saucepan on a stove/ burner/ hotplate would do. A pot on a small open fire would work. The classic is a wall paper stripper, but those aren't easily sourced at the moment.
 

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I would suggest holding it in its present shape.... maybe with a tourniquet arrangement. Then boil or steam. That way it will be held in its current form and would not get out of control. As that would simplify the clamping/re-assembly. It looks like you should then be able to bend and re-assemble in on go. Wear thick gloves!
 

whatknot

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Thanks, yes I have a strap I can use to hold it roughly as it is to stop further straightening

Thick gloves I do have though

The aim being to make it usable again for my fast growing grandson
 

beech1948

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Well you could ask a neighbour if they would loan a wall paper stripper to you. Transfer at a distance given the current climate of anxiety.
 

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Yep, boil/steam with the strap on and use the strap to pull into shape. Pop it it back onto the spindles, leave a couple of days before taking it off and re glueing.
 

whatknot

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I should have asked earlier but for how long do you think it should be boiled ?
 

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Give it 45 mins and see what it feels like. It should feel like it's bending quite easily. It's roughly an hour per inch for steaming. So boiling may be quicker but it's a bit trial and error. Err on the longer side.
 

Mike Jordan

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Just one small addition to the above, after stripping the finish off, soak the timber in water for several days to ensure that its thoroughly wet right through before steaming or boiling as suggested. You will then need to leave the newly bent item on the former until it's completely dry before removing the clamps.
 

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Mike Jordan":2g1znvqn said:
Just one small addition to the above, after stripping the finish off, soak the timber in water for several days to ensure that its thoroughly wet right through before steaming or boiling as suggested. You will then need to leave the newly bent item on the former until it's completely dry before removing the clamps.
Yes it does help. But I would say that it should be perfectly possible to pull it to shape using the strap as above and putting it onto the spindles.... not needing a former therefore. Keep it pulled down onto the spindles with another couple of straps as well.
 

MikeG.

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That would work":31ia87ez said:
........Yes it does help. But I would say that it should be perfectly possible to pull it to shape using the strap as above and putting it onto the spindles.... not needing a former therefore. Keep it pulled down onto the spindles with another couple of straps as well.
Well, that might work. But the spindles don't offer much in terms of resistance to spreading, so it could end up any old shape it wants. Better to do the job once, properly, and make a former.
 

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I have done almost identical myself which did. But it's down to personal confidence probably. Your not using the spindles to hold the shape.... that's the straps.
 

MikeG.

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If you steam it, though, the whole thing goes floppy. When you pull the ends together with a strap, the side that is already in the correct position will bend in (as well as the out-of-shape side), and it would then be in the wrong position. If both sides had got out of shape then it might be worth the risk, but when one side is correct I can't see how it could work.
 
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