Inch Bofin Carriages

Rain, Wind and Rainbows, Wooosh, Woooosh. Rakatakataka. The sounds of the Rain falling on the roof of the workshop is wonderful. Rain never bothered me that much. Though I have to admit, after a month of mostly Rain and Wind it gets you somehow. Beautiful sunsets are rare, simply because most of the time its way to clouded and taking a hike when wind is blowing you out your shoes making the rain feel like stones being thrown at you has its charms, yet it makes staying next to the fire and spend the weekends inside much more charming. Anywayz. Besides the somewhat saddening weather, Working on the Carriages with Franky has been great!

The first week I had to get to know the Workshop a bit, but work was in abundance. He is currently working on a Handsome Cab. Its one of those old skool Carriages used as cabs, It gets drawn by one horse, with the maximum of two passengers. The driver sits high in the sky on the back of the thing. My first job was to add some Trim, Trim???? No were not a barber. With Trim we mean the profile on the edges and corners. I had to get used to this word too, for I would usually say Profile. yet here its called Trim. So trimming I did! Afterwards I had to join some mitred profiling on the inside of the doors, A bit of filling and sanding of gaps and joints etc. Nothing fancy.

Carriages are not all about wood, there is actually quite some metal involved, This particular project has a metal frame with mostly plywood attached to it, (which is not that common) yet there was a lot of metal work to be done, from Ornaments used for the ropes. to the rails on the edges, bends for the shafts etc. I don’t have that much experience with metal work, never could have imagined how Franky handles dem apples. Fire is what we needed, Metal should be glowing red for it to bend properly! we lit the fireplace in the workshop. Just a fire is not enough, it needs air. Franky grabbed a Hairdryer, a big brick and placed the hairdryer in front of the fireplace. That will do!
After some time he took out the metal, hold it here and hit it there he said. We were supposed to bend the thing in a spiral. A big metal beam in a block of concrete just outside the workshop. It had some bolts and shapes welded onto it, Holding it in one of the shapes and a couple of hits from Thor’s mighty hammer it became a spiral alright!

After some more heating and hitting we managed to get the Spirals somewhat similar! Meanwhile I worked some more on the carriage and trims. The next step was to make an U bend to connect the Shafts to. This would eventually become the thing that goes around the horse to pull the carriage. With some spare plywood I found I had to make a bending mold. Afterwards I worked some solid wood into laminates. We didn’t have proper space to do the bend though. “Go to the chicken coup, behind it is a door. just fixate the bending mold on the door, that will do” he said. It was a Magical day, for it wasnt raining. I placed the door on some iron supports and attached the mold to it.

It had been a couple of years since I bent wood. But the theory was still somewhere inside that grey mass above. The most important thing I remember was preparation!! I checked all the Laminates, the glue, the strap, clamps, holes. Everything seemed to be just fine except for the lack of clamps. With some improvisation to solve said clamp problem and managed to bend the thing. Not perfect, but acceptable! With the help of a Japanese draw saw, the chisel and the plane I made the halfwood joint to connect the shafts to the Ubent.

With that done it was time to get the thing connected to the carriage. We leveled it and placed it in the right position on some bricks. While Franky was busy bending and welding the three metal parts needed, I did some small work attaching the torch holders, whip holder etc. The windows at the front had to be attached to. The window consists of two parts, one with hinges connected to the roof that can flip up. the second part needed some custom made metal hinges that connect it to the side of the carriage. I calculated the angle, cut, drilled and bent the small metal parts and attached them. a little adjustments were made, it worked just fine!

looking good so far.

looking good so far.

The shafts need reinforcement, with the help of the mold we used for the bending the local blacksmith made us some metal reinforcements. all we had to do was to fit them properly and drill the holes. We added metal on the bottom, top and back of the shafts. then drilled them through and fixed the bolts.

To complete the thing we add some handles with some flexiply and the spiral thingies we made earlier. The spirals are for the ropes of the driver to steer the horse.



I cut off all the extending bolts, we sanded whatever needed sanding, Voila si Gata. There was only one problem, The carriage didn’t fit through the door…… At first I laughed, then I cried! We had to take off the shafts, the metal parts connecting shaft to carriage and also the back seat. That wasn’t as easy as expected for the springs the carriage was resting on were perfectly in the way. With some hitting and pulling we managed to get the seat of, meanwhile destroying half of the thing :)))). Anyway, with all the things removed we tilted the carriage on its back with the front pointing upwards. which made it fit through the roller shutter. Outside we reattached all things, restored the damage that was done removing them. Result:

Handsome Cab, de la Inch Bofin

Handsome Cab, de la Inch Bofin

Working on the the Carriages is nice, something different then usual even though the materials related to this particular carriage, (Plywood), is a bit boring. The place itself is alright Lots of space, lots of mud, lots of horses, In the garden we have quite some Potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, different herbs and Turnip TURN-UP TURN-UP! ready for consuming. Its a bit different though then the places I have been staying at for the past two years.

Franky, he doesn’t like silence that much, in the workshop its the radio brainwashing us with the same shit everyday: Justing Bieber and Adele songs 10x a day mostly, srsly, I go to sleep and wake up with those Damn Radio songs in my head HHNNNGGGG. Besides that whenever he enters the kitchen or living room the TV goes on, throwing all this Terrorism, death and destruction and Commercial bs at us. Luckily I have the power to shut down said TV or Radio whenever he is not around :D. We work 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, the weekends as you wish. Which is alright, Everybody has its own thing. For me though, I have been avoiding these things.  Its as if i’m walking this middle line with both side pushing and pulling me of sorts, On the right side things related to my old life which I’f been trying to avoid, Media, Structure, Repetitiveness. On the left side, Freedom to do as I wish, Woodworking, Organic home grown Vedgz, Home made stuff(Bread,cookehz,Peanut butter,chutney) Its hard to describe really, how this place makes me feel on occasion.

In any case, I’m learning new things about carriages and metalworking which is great! So ill make the best of the time I have here. Winter has not even started, yet the year is almost at an end. Spring is around the corner. Time flies! With the blink of an eye ill be thumbing again!



PS : I bake cookies now. Behold a few of my Creations!


Steam Bending Wood

Steam bending wood is a technique used for centuries, back in the days it was commonly used to bend hull ribs for ships, different hand tools and weaponry. As time passed it became more popular under the furniture makers and they started using this technique for making chairs, baskets, tables and even musical instruments like violins and guitars. These days steam bending has become less popular in the industrial section but still widely practices by craftsmen and even thought at craftsmen schools.

The ability to bend solid wood can give your projects both a structural advantage and an amazing visual boost. For example, a sweeping curve on the back leg of a chair can be very weak if it is cut from a solid board. There will always be a small part of the leg with short grain which will break if it is subject to stress. If you use the steam bending technique to make this leg, It will keep almost all of the strength of the original straight piece of wood. The grain will also follow the curve and visually show the shape you have created.

The principle

Wood cells are held together by a substance called lignin. Imagine the wood to be a pack of straws, when looking from the top the space in between those straws are filled with lignin. by steaming the wood you decrease the strength of the lignin bond between those straws. Steaming the wood on 100º for about 1 hour for every 3cm in thickness (width is irrelevant) will soften the lignin enough for you to bend the wood in the required shape.

The steam box

Building a steam box for bending wood only requires exterior-grade plywood, waterproof glue and an electric tea kettle.the box should be as small as possible depending on your project, a common used size is around 1.5m x 15cm x 15cm (LxWxH) you can make it longer but you might have to add a steam kettle or find a better way to produce enough steam. on the bottom of the box drill a hole and use iron pipe to spread the steam coming from the kettle.

Use Tongue and groove joints help seal the box’s corners, you can consider to silicon them to make sure no steam will be lost, but if you glue your joints right it should not be necessary. add screws every 12cm along the corners, the box also needs a vew drainage holes in the bottom, imagine you glue your steambox so perfect. it might explode due to the pressure rising inside. Also the steam should be able to circulate around the wood and through the box. therefor it is advised to raise your wood by adding some horizontal dowels. make a hinged door at one or both ends, use a rubber strip to seal them. to be able to monitor the heat inside of the box you can add a hole on top and put a thermometer through.

Choosing your wood

Species Smallest Radius
Oak (red/white) 5cm
Hickory 5cm
Elm 5cm
Walnut 8cm
Ash 12cm
Cherry 15cm
Maple 20cm

There are 2 simple rules when choosing wood:
- Exotic woods do not bend well.
- Softwoods do not bend well and should be avoided.

Not all species bend well and not all species can bend as much as others. It is also important to find the perfect board for your steam bend, take a good look at the grain, it should be as straight as possible and not run out to much, especially where the bend will take place. It should be knot free or any sign of knots, damage in the grain or weird patterns should be avoided.

The moisture content of your board is also important. Freshly sawn wood usually has a moisture content of about 70%. Wood bends best between 20% and 30%. It is better to catch this “on the way down” rather then to remoisturize the wood. The proper moisture content is important if you are bending to small radius- and less important when bending shallow curves. Once the wood has air dried to 6% or 8% it may not be possible to bend it to small radius curves. The lignin bond is only partially reversible at this level, especially if the wood has been sitting for a year or more in this dry state, it will not be possible to gain all the elasticity back by remoisturizing the wood, even by steaming or soaking in water for a longer period of time (days or weeks).

Preparing the bending mold(form)

Before you start steaming your wood, you should have the mold ready to rumble! Basically a mold is the shape you want your wood to bend in, it should be fixated to the table or something similar and very sturdy. Bending the wood will take allot of power so if the mold is not fixated well enough you will not be able to bend the wood around it fast enough. a vew examples of molds below. when making your bending mold, take in consideration your wood species, minimum radius etc.

 Steaming and Bending

Now the Steam box and bending shape are ready to go you can start with steaming the wood, Remember the temperature inside the Steam box should be around 100º then steam your board for about one hour per 3cm of thickness (regardless of width). Wood at 30% will require a little less time, wood at 15% a little more. Oversteaming is not advised, as it may cause compression wrinkles to develop as the bend progresses around the form. when your board had enough sauna its time to bend! get your clamps ready and make sure no objects are in between the steam box and bending mold. Once you open up the steam box and take the wood out the lignin starts to harden. so its all about speed, Bend the wood as soon as possible around your bending mold and clamp them. depending on the size of your bend you might need to ask for some help. the faster you bend and clamp it around the mold the better. Once it is clamped in place, leave it there to dry for a vew days. usually after 5 to 7 it will be fully cooled. (or under 10%)

 Springback and  Close in

Springback can occur when the curve is so shallow so that the lignin does not shift enough to hold the new shape, the part is too dry (moisture content too low before steaming or insufficient steaming time), the clamping pressure was to less, the part was not left on the bending form until fully cooled, or the part didn’t dry thoroughly (less than 10% M.C.).

Close-in can occur iIf the moisture content of the wood is too high when bending (above 30%), the displaced and compressed wood fibers continue to contract as the bent wood dries out or If the end pressure is too high during the bending process, the overcompressed inner face of the blank will contract as the wood dries out. To avoid Springback or close in you can fixate the endings with a rule or connect them to another part of the end product fixating them in place. if you are bending legs for a table or chair for example, Experience is all that will help you to avoid both these problems.

Below some nice examples of steam bent furniture.

Wanna see some Steam bending Action? This 6minute video will show you some amazing Steam Bending!