I want to know some techniques on how to bend wood. My father is the
woodworker in the family but even he does not know :-( I want to know how
exactly you do it. what presure to use. how long it has to be under
pressure. do you need some special equipment or can you make it yourself?
all kinds of questions I want an answer on it. If somebody can explain or
tell me where I can find some websites solving this problem. please inform
A common method for more pliable woods is steam bending. The wood is steamed
to make it more pliable and allow it to bend more easily.
Another method is to cut saw kerfs at regular intervals (not all the way
through the material) allowing the wood to bend. This is usally for outer
skins on display cabinets or some decorative/modern furnitue designs.
Another method is to use thinner pieces of material that bend more easily
and laminate them together in a bending form and hold it in that form until
the glue dries.
There's a start for you :)
Actually the steam and heat active the resins in the wood or some such thing
and this allows bending while also holding the wood's shape as it cools.
This process is only available once in each piece of wood. And there's not a
lot of open time so you need a jig all set to accept the steamed wood and
hold it while it sets. Some woods work better than others for steaming due
to resin content or something.
We used red oak for the curved arm and bow back on the Dunbar Sack-back
Windsor chairs. Bending the wood was done on the first day of the five day
class and we let the pieces cure (tied to hold the bow) until the last day
of class for final assembly. Mike used a length of 4" schedule 80 plastic
pipe with end caps as the steam chamber. Rods through the sides of the pipe
keep the work off the bottom of the pipe and holes in the bottom let out
condensed water. Steam was provided by one of those propane cookers that
people use to deep fry turkeys heating a 5 gallon metal gasoline can (uh,
filled with water not gasoline, folks!) which was connected to the steam
chamber by a length of automotive radiator hose. You do want to have a lot
of steam and heat. I'll see if I can find my photos of the rig and jig.
I'll have to check my notes which are over at the shop, but I think we only
had to steam the wood for about 5 minutes. Then you want to work quickly as
only a few minutes out of the steam and the wood is setting up in its new
shape. It is remarkable how easily the wood bends in those few magic
The other very important consideration is picking the piece of wood you
choose to bend. You want straight grain and little or no grain running out
on the edges. We started with rived wood rather than sawn boards; literally
splitting red oak logs into billets of grain. And then we carefully worked
those pieces down to dimension with drawknife, planes, spokeshave...
There's one spot on my chair's back bow where a tiny tab of grain runout
pops up just a hair. It's not enough that anybody else would notice, but I
I'll try to find photos and stuff if you're interested.
Windsor chairs should be painted for the same reason girls shouldn't get
There are several methods. You can bend and glue several thin strips
of wood together, clamping them to a form to cure. "Springback"
occurs with curved pieces, maybe 5-15%. This is how long curved
banisters or hand rails are made. You can also build a wood
steamer--a little more involved. There is no exact way to do it since
wood bending is classified as an "art." You may want to visit your
local library or Amazon.
This comes and goes on the group. Here's a link:
Note that you can sort/refine by date.
I have seen bending rig made from all manner of shop stuff, including
a small bender made from schedule 60 pvc with screw on ends that was
supplied steam from an electric tea kettle.
All I remember about steaming is the greener the wood the better,
allow about an hour an inch, you have less than 5 minutes work time
after reaching elasticity, watch for springback, and leave the wood in
the form for about a week.
What are you making?
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