Timber selection is always important when it comes to steam bending and selecting the right Lacewood is no exception. Is the grain straight enough but still have character? Is the timber free from knots and defects? I could not find any advice regarding the steam treatment of London Plane, quarter-sawn or otherwise or how it ranks in the advisable or not chart (Oak and Ash being at the top of the chart).
In the spring of 2019 I made a steam chamber from redundant aluminium ducting, put to good re:use after changing my extraction configuration last year. Inside I placed two aluminium poles and the timber stock sits on these with very little contact – allowing good steam circulation. Although the chamber gets very hot to touch it circulates the steam well and I am able to manage how much steam is contained and how much is released for pressure control.
I have experimented with some very tight curves but even on very thin stock, the lacewood snapped when pushed towards 300 degrees. So many splits and snaps! However, the dressing table now being made to show at the London design Fair has gently curved leg rails and mirror stand, and this curve proved no challenge and with a simple dowel jig (rather than a comprehensive forma), the rails came out as intended.
I love this technique so much that I intend to build a 2m long steam chamber and although I wont become Joseph Walsh overnight, I think I have enough of a handle on it to work on some more ambitious projects (in Ash!)