Tips From A Shipwright: How to Steam Bend In A Plastic Bag

Well, if this isn’t one of the most clever ideas you’ve never thought of – then please tell us what is! People invent plenty of crazy ways to steam bend wood when building or restoring wooden boats, but few have used or even considered using a plastic bag. Also extremely clever is how Lou demonstrates his method for progressive bevel cutting. Check it out!

If Louis Sauzedde isn’t the ultimate wooden shipwright and movie star, then who could it be? He has turned wooden boat restoration into a video series attracting lots of attention and fixing up some special boats along the way. We love that he attacks his projects with confidence and traditional sense, but is not afraid to try out a new material or new idea that challenges everything he was taught about his profession.

Follow along with the rest of this 4 part (so far) video series on the restoration of “Remora” here¬†and delight in watching Lou work and in his super wicked Rhody accent. So killa!

Steam Bending Frames on A Herreshoff

There are many tricks for bending wood for boat building Рmost involve steam and a box or closed area for the wood and steam to meet up and party while the wood gets all woozy and pliable! Frames and planks are most often bent and then placed on the boat, but there are many ways to skin this cat Рand many opinions. So we look to master boatbuilder, Dan Shea of Bristol Boat Company, who has his own tried and true method.

It looks easy and seems to work very well judging by the beautiful boats his little shed behind the Herreshoff Marine Museum cranks out. So we’ll leave this up to Dan to explain. This nice video will give you insight into what it takes to get those wooden pieces to bend so nicely…. all it takes is some steam and lots of muscle. (and a sweet jig.)



Steambending Fishing Platforms


This video from Angus Ross shows the steambending process that he used to build custom Wave-like benches. This series of unique sculptural fishing platforms for the city of Canterbury run along the Riverside walk on the river Stour.

Steam Bending A Toboggan / Sled

Here I primarily cover tips and techniques for steam bending lumber. In this case it happens to be for building a toboggan but the same guidelines apply for any application.

Steam bending a replacement timber in a plastic bag on a Herreshoff 12-1/2

Shipwright Louis Sauzedde continues his work fixing a leak on a historic Herreshoff 12 1/2 daysailer named ‘Rhode Island Red’ from Bristol, Rhode Island. In part 4, Lou demonstrates how he used a pattern to create the replacement piece and then how to steam bend the new piece using a plastic bag.

A Unique and Effective Method to Steam Bend Wooden Boat Frames

Shipwright Louis Sauzedde shows us his trick for steam-bending frames using plastic bags rather than a traditional steam box. The frames are steamed right in position on the side of the boat so that no heat is lost and the frames can continue to steam even after being clamped into position.

Steam Bending Wood in a Microwave

Using a microwave oven to steam bend small pieces of wood. These are White Ash, 9 and 16 inches long, for a wooden 1880’s Melonseed Skiff project. Pieces are 1.5x.5 inches thick. These will become bentwood knees to support the side decks.

Steam Bending Demonstration

Brad at Bristol Boat Company shows how to steam bend frames as part of the restoration of an almost 100 year old 12 1/2 named Wizard.