Friday, August 2, 2013
The term yakimage means “heat bending.” The use of an open fire to bend planking is used throughout Asia, and its also familiar to the Bengali boatbuilders working near us. The planks are bent slowly, off the boat. In old photos and drawings often one can see stones used to weigh down the plank ends and though none of my teachers used weights, I tried it here. It makes sense, because the weight applies a constant pressure.
First we beveled the plank edge where it meets the bottom, then cut our nail holes from the inside and made matching mortises on the outside.
My teachers also all used props braced overhead to bend the planks. I found it easier here to use pipe clamps pulling down against the metal framework of our shop. The clamps let me apply steady pressure very slowly.
While the fire burned underneath the bending point we also poured hot water on the top of the plank. We had to keep spraying water underneath to keep the plank from charring. The whole process took us about six hours. In the West, wood that comes out of the steambox has to be bent immediately. The nice thing about this method is we can take our time.
Bending to the exact curvature was never something I saw my teachers attempt. They bent by eye and then manipulated the plank on the boat to the final curve. I made patterns of both the curve we wanted and the twist, and while I tried to match them to the bend I don’t think it was so precise.