Pete Leenhouts wrote:
"....wipe the wood down with dawn dish detergent - it makes it easier for the
wood to bend."
I would guess that this works because the dish liquid acts as a surfactant,
reducint the surface tension of the water, and allowing it t penetrate more
deeply between the fibers of the wood.
I was taught to lift the endpapers of a book with water with a drop of
surfactant in it; you paint the mixture on and wait a few minutes for the water
to soften the adhesive, then you can lift off the endpaper without (in theory)
damage. Its trickier than it looks, but to do the same thing with plain water
would take hours---the usual procedure with plain water is to submerge the
board, accepting destruction of the board for the sake of saving the endpaper. I
never liked the idea of using surfactant; my take was that however it is acting,
the surfactant remains in the paper afterwards, all ready to cause some kind of
trouble, maybe years lalter. Just a tiny amount of it, my teacher said, but it
is (I figured) something which has big effects in tiny amounts.
For paper and books, fortunately, there is another option: a mixture of alcohol
(just about any alcohol) with water will achieve the same end: the mixture
penetrates between the paper fibers, and although the alcohol evaporates out
quickly (leaving no residue), it leaves behind the water to soften the adhesive
(always paste or hot glue with an old book---modern books with synthetic
adhesives are a major problem). Unfortunately, I can't see how to apply the
alcohol mixture idea to hot steam bending. A pity.