West Coast Customs: The Microwave Steamer

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on May 14th, 2011

The last time we posted a video by Ish, he was teaching us how to expertly wrap a steering wheel in leather. This time, he shares a tip on what to do if your steamer is broken and you need to get wrinkles out of a seat cover fast. His methods may be unconventional, but they seem to work.

You may remember Ish from MTV’s hit-series Pimp My Ride. He’s an employee of West Coast Customs (WCC) – the shop that did all those over-the-top fabrications to teens’ cars. Remember when they installed a fish tank in the backseat of a Mitsubishi Mirage?

Sure they’re eccentric, but these guys actually know a thing or two about custom interiors.

Check it out…

6 Responses

  1. Ryan Patton says:

    Now thats a hot tip! That could get tiresome back and forth trips to microwave glad I got a steamer!

  2. Nadeem says:

    I agree Ryan. A professional steamer is invaluable.

    Here are some other comments left about this post in another upholstery forum:

    sofadoc: During the fleeting nanteenth of a second that the camera allowed me to fixate my eyes on the finished product, I still saw a few wrinkles. I guess the microwave trick is better than no trick at all, but I’d stop short of saying that it works “as well” as a steamer.

    Peppy: I would find it hard to get something like a bucket seat or pontoon furniture into the microwave. And I tend to need to work the skin longer than the 8 seconds it would stay hot. Probably better to microwave a pot of water and pour it over the skin. At least that way you could focus the heat where you need it.

    JuneC: Before I went with that method, for the DIY’er, I’d get a hair blow dryer on HOT and a few chilled bottles of water. Heat the vinyl till just barely touchable (do try not to leave fingerprints, then roll the cold water over the surface (spritzing with ice water is better). If using the bottle as a roller, make sure the vinyl isn’t so hot as to leave an impression. Shrink’s em up pretty well. May require several iterations.

    gene: A young guy saying “…back in the day…” and he’s referring to using Microwaves. LOL

    Back in MY day, there were no microwaves.

    I would think the steam from my iron would work better than his trick, but it is a good trick to know about.

    Here’s another trick: The batteries on my camera were dead and I needed to take some pics of furniture in my studio. I put a bowl of water in the microwave, got it really, really hot, and put the batteries in the hot water for a few minutes. I dried the batteries (they were hot to the touch) and put them in my camera, and voila! The batteries had enough juice to take the pics.
    BE CAREFUL boys and girls. Those batteries could explode if they get too hot. I would never put batteries in the microwave, only in hot water.

    And another tip: If you just washed your little doggie and you don’t want to take all that time drying her/him with towels… (Just kidding.)

  3. stitcher_guy says:

    That thing still looked awfully loose after the towels were removed. If it was in my shop, I’d be padding or tightening up seams and leave the microwave for popcorn.

  4. Chad (merge) says:

    Another tool that I have learned about and love to use is a “sealing iron”. These are commonly found in the model airplane hobby, but work wonders on leather and vinyl. Usually I use a piece of muslin or other thin soft material between the foot of the iron and the vinyl/leather I am trying to tighten up. I have found that I use this more than my steamer because i can focus the heat where I want it. Beware, like anything else though you can overheat an area. If you have something really stubborn, you can heat with this and cool the area with an ice pack. Give it a try…


  5. timrein55 timrein55 says:

    Walmart has a killer portable steamer with a 4′ hose, been using it a yr now with no problems and only 50 bucks

  6. Mcautotrim Mcautotrim says:

    Putting steam to leather is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard of. Vinyl, on the other hand, works great. If you can’t pattern leather to fit, you probably need more practice,just saying. Slightly loose leather will set up in a matter of days through regular day/night cycles. Steaming it will reduce the life of the leather by years.

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