Steam Bending Masterclass

February 28, 2022

Last week we had the pleasure of collaborating with some fabulous participants on our first 5-day steam bending masterclass. Edward and his team worked alongside the students as they made their own Sussex Mirror. Although steam bending is a substantial part of the project, many other skills were also covered in depth, including timber preparation, precision sanding and shaping, and learning how to sharpen hand-tools.

“The course is far more than making a Sussex Mirror and it was a joy to work with the team of exceptional craftsmen.”

– Paul M

We documented each day and have highlighted the main steps and activities in the series of short videos below.

Steam bending masterclass day 1:

Timber selection.

Timber Preparation.
Demonstrations and training using various machines, and machining timber in preparation for steam bending on day two!

Tool sharpening.
Tool sharpening demonstrations and training to round the day off!

Day 2:

Learning the science and art of steam bending.
Discussing the timings, process, and the jig in preparation for steam bending oak and ash timbers.

Steam bending.
Our students in action and learning fast!

Removal from jig.
Removing the timber from the jig 20 minutes after steam bending to allow the timber to cool. After removal, fixing in timber in the drying rack before starting the entire process again. This intense activity was followed by Edward’s tasty home-made gourmet lunch!

The hand-held CNC Shaper tool.
In contrast to traditional steam bending the students were taught how to use the Shaper hand-held CNC router, used to cut out the plywood back panels for the mirrors and templates.

Day 3

The main shaping and making day.
Learning to use the precision wide belt sander to perfectly flatten the mirror.

Marking up, learning to use the domino jointer and pillar drill, and cutting off the internal excess timber.

Shaping continued…
Learning to use the hand-held router to cut the groove for the mirror, curve and shape the straight edges and inside circular edge.

Shaping Up!
Chiselling and spoke shaving.

Day 4

Fine tuning.
Learning how to hand cut wedges for securing the pegs, sanding with precision, and oiling. followed by a pint down the pub!

Day 5.

The final day.
De-nibbing and sanding the grain lightly to make the mirror silky smooth, gluing and wedging the pegs the applying the final coat of oil like a pro. As part of the final assembly bonding the mirror to the back panel. The mirrors are now complete!

We have had some great feedback from our students and the whole team had a thoroughly enjoyable week. If you would like to find out more or would like to sign-up for one of our forthcoming workshops, please feel free to give us a call on 01243 696606, contact us or book your place via our online shop.

Forthcoming Courses

July 2022: Monday 4 July – Friday 8 July 2022

October 2022: Monday 17 October – Friday 21 October 2022


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