While green bamboo bends easily, dried cane is far from pliable. To form a bamboo cane into an arch, use steam heat.
Steam bending a wood canes gets you the right-sized handle for your hand without ugly glue marks. It economizes the wood and helps preserve attractive grain patterns in nice hardwoods. The secret to steam bending is to give the wood enough time to soften and become pliable. This varies by the thickness of your cane. “Fine Woodworking”’s Matt Berger estimates it can take anywhere from 20 minutes for a 1/4-inch thin post to 2 hours for a 2-inch thick piece. Once the wood is soft, the project needs a few minutes’ labor.
Put a large pot of water on the stove, and bring it to a boil.
Turn down the temperature when the water comes to a boil, setting the heat to medium. The water will remain hot enough to create steam.
Lay the top portion of your cane across the top of the pot where it can breathe in the steam.
Leave the wood resting on the pot for 20 minutes, to get it soft enough to bend.
Put heat resistant gloves on and grab the wood. Bend the top into a U-shape for your handle. If the wood does not bend easily, it requires more steam time. If so, put the wood back atop the pot and leave it for 10 more minutes, then check it. Leave the wood on for as long as it needs to bend easily in your hand.
Stop bending the handle when you have the positioning you want.
Secure the wood with a clamp, or tie it using twine. Once the wood cools down, it will remain bent; until then, it could slowly spring out of shape.
Set the wood in a secure place, where it can dry. When the food feels cool and dry to your touch, remove the twine or clamp to enjoy your new cane.
You can also steam with a steam box instead of a pot, available from woodworking supply shops.
Published in: Do-It-Yourself