Has anyone tried this process?
I believe it's Danish in origin, but there's a (local to me) dealer in
Northern Ireland. Hardwoods (beech and ash are favoured) are steamed
then compressed _lengthways_
in large hydraulic presses. The compressed
timber now takes a permanent shortening of maybe 5% and is stored
(wrapped) to maintain its high humidity until ready for use.
Timberyards sell it in this condition.
When you want to bend it, you bend it with little more than hand
pressure to shape, then hold it in place and air dry it until humidity
drops. The initial pre-compression makes it easy to bend and avoids
cracking. Once dried, the wood is stable.
They're offering it as a solution for one-off architectural shapes, such
as curved window frames. You only need lightweight jigs to form it and
the simpler process for the end-user avoids the need to steam it