Did you know,
another way to steam bend wood, that works for students and the financial novice, would be to use a heat blanket.
you will need:
a heat blanket, like the one we use up here in the winter on our beds.
some towels, enough to cover the surface of the wood you would like to bend.
plastic trashbags, the thick black, non-sustainable kind.
electricity, water and time.
you may also need a sandwich or beverage of some sort.
first, prepare the jig, or the negative form of the shape you would like to end up with. a simple way to do this is to take the mdf and cut a few profiles, maybe three or four at the most. some people will then cover the face of the jig with flashing (thin metal sheeting) to create a solid-esque shape over which to bend.
next, you will lay your sheet of wood to be bent, I suggest the birch plywood, because I make everything out of birch plywood there are some other wood suggestions above. if you expect it to stay put youll be using at least 1/2 in sheets at least, over the jig/form
Actually sandwich the wood in between wet towels on both sides. place the heat blankets in the enourous black trash bags sandwich the wood/wet towel sandwich between them. so from the bottom up you should have in this order, jig, trashbag/heat blanket, wet towel, wood, wet towel, trashbag/heatblanket. The heat blankets are inside the trashbags because water plus electric anything equals calling the paramedics and/or fire department.
the heat blankets should heat the water in the towel up enough where it will allow the already slightly flexible plywood to become more plyable. I doubt it will make a lot of steam, so it will take longer that true steam bending, but it should work. After the wood begins to get flexible, you want to begin to bend it around your jig, this can be achieved using weights, or straps depending on the profile you are trying to achieve.
during the heating process you may want to apply sandwich to yourself as necessary. use beverage sparingly, as it is never a good idea to be drunk around shop equipment.
good luck, tell me how it works out. oh yeah once you get the shape you want turn off the blanket, and let the thing cool off and dry out before you unclamp/strap it. afterward, youll want to seal the wood with some sort of surface treatment, i.e. furniture wax