Help with design/plan--Curved Bench

My boss has asked me to build a bench that will be placed in a fire pit. I'm thinking of using osage orange, due to its rot resistance.
At any rate, the bench is to have 3 or 4 sections. The first is a 6-foot straight section, followed by 180 degrees of a radius-type deal with an outside diameter of about 6 feet. If it makes it any easier, more or less sections can be arranged.
My thoughts so far are to build a set of "trusses" and bend 1/2" square pieces around the radius and screw them to the profiles of the benches. If there's any way I could avoid a whole lot of waste by doing something like this, that would be okay, I think. But perhaps it would be easier to just bandsaw the curved seat pieces out of wider stock. The problem there is, how to contour the seat (not necessary, but would be nice).
At any rate, if someone could give some pointers here, I'd appreciate it.
Thanks,
-Phil Crow
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On 6 May 2004 04:04:43 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Phil Crow) wrote:

Osage orange is a very bendable wood. In doing a bit of googling, I found that it was used by the Osage Indians in making their bows, and by settlers in making the hubs and rims of wagon wheels. As such, you should have no trouble bending the wood to the radius you propose.
WRT the contour, maybe you could just build the appropriate angles into the trusses and make a notch where each piece will sit to help hold the shape and aid in bending.

Disclaimer: I'm really not qualified to classify the above as "pointers". Use at your own risk.
Keep us posted.
JP

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First off, I would wait to see how it sits before I placed it "in" the fire pit ;-). Wood choice varies greatly but I would plan on a laminating technique for any of them. Instead of trying to cut or bend one solid piece Build a form and bend several thin veneers/layers of the wood to the form. There are several soaking or steaming scenario's that would work very well. An alternative to bending would be to end join with splines angle cut pieces into an octagon then cut out the curves on a bandsaw with a radius jig. Or use a router with a circle cutting jig. (Yes these jigs will be in the 4' to 6' range) Then cut the curves into sections and glue 'em front to back. Either of these methods would allow you to stagger the components vertically to allow for the contour. Ineresting concept, I may have to try this myself... hmmm maybe Cypress.
EJ
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Thanks, y'all, for the tips. Jay, I knew that about bows, but I didn't equate that to osage orange being a bendy wood for whatever reason. Looks up, sees nothing, I guess.
EJ, I'm afraid I'm a little lost with your suggestions. I have trouble sometimes with visualization. I'm right with you through "cut the curves out with a bandsaw" but then I get a little lost. If I've got flat, curved pieces of wood with a six foot radius, why cut them? For the sections of the bench? Also, by gluing them "front to back" does that mean glue several pieces of, say, 3" wide pieces to make a 9" wide piece? If they're all the same radius, can I still do that? I must admit that I feel a little muddled.
Also, should I be worried about laminated pieces delaminating after a year or two? I know the homeowner won't be thrilled to have her large, rather expensive bench turn into a large, rather expensive pile of lath after a few rainstorms. Is Gorilla glue my answer?
This will be the largest and most complicated project I've attempted yet, and I wonder if this is the one to be my first 'for hire' WW project.
Also, sorry about not getting back sooner; I've been in Columbus building a deck for a friend of mine.
Thanks, -Phil Crow
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I'm not sure of the term but it's gluing the faces together so 12, 1/4" pieces would form a 3 " board. gorilla glue may work but I would probably read the labels on some marine adhesives first before commencing This scenario would need to be sealed and varnished like a boat. Go to Norms website at www.newyankee.com and look at the Redwood garden arbor. He has plans and a video that describes my 2nd idea of end gluing segments together to form anoctagon then cut in to an arch. That could easily be adapted.
EJ
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wrote:

Thanks for clarifying, Eric. I've got the idea now. I think what I'll wind up doing is just gluing up a panel roughly the size of the seat (for 1/3 of the half-circle, about 2ft by 7ft) and use a big circle-cutting jig for my router with a 1/2" straight cutting bit to make the individual slats. For the front and rear rails of the seat and the top of the back support, I'll laminate some thinner pieces. I must admit, I'm excited about this prospect, and I hope that I get the job. I'll be sure to post pics to abpw if I do.
Thanks again, -Phil Crow
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