I used to do my steam bending on top of my brewing kettle whilst making beer. That was a little too stressful, doing two things at once with a high time investment, and potential for things going wrong, and involving gallons of boiling wort. So I decided to do it properly, in the woods. I’ve been building and rebuilding a little informal stove from fire bricks and thick mess wire grid for a while. It’s main purpose has been to drive away the pesky midges that hang around otherwise and bite me. I’ve been running it with a short chimney which causes a good draught, but to steam I needed a ‘kettle’ on the fire. I rebuilt it into an approximation of a rocket stove. Basically this is a heavy firebox to retain heat with a hole where the sticks are fed in and air is taken in immediately below the grid that supports the sticks. I used an old malt extract bucket a quarter full of water ans then set my steaming cabinet on top. Not as precarious as it sounds. Although it took a while to generate sufficient steam, once up to temperature there was no shortage. The aim was to make a handle for a trugg repair a customer has asked for. I’d split and shaved down a length of hazel previously and fixed up a temporary jig to hold the handle in shape once bent. It seemed to go OK:
You can see the trugg with the old worm-eaten handle here:
Sorry, no after picture, but it looks OK.
Call off the search for stock knives, I’ve bought a set from France that are winging their way over the Channel as I write. They look to be an English pattern set, so it will be interesting to see if there is a maker’s name on them – a lot were made in High Burton, near Huddersfield not far from here. This is the true stock knife as seen on eBay.fr:
The bend on the handle looks pretty shallow, which is a plus for the bowl-carving I’ll be using it for.