Curved Panels - adding another dimension to woodworking. #1: Curved Panels #1 - Introduction and some uses for curved panels.

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Blog entry by John8059 posted 02-21-2009 06:06 PM 1787 reads 6 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Curved Panels - adding another dimension to woodworking. series Part 2: Building "flat" curved cabinet doors - 101 »

With all the gorgeous and clever projects presented on LJs, it is hard to find something to contribute that isn’t redundant (or just plain embarrassing after seeing some of your projects). I haven’t seen much in the way of curved panels so I am going to offer my experiences on the subject here. I must admit that so far Les Hastings is “King of the Curves” and you should check out his work, but he actually carves his curves out of solid wood. I will be discussing curved panels made from thin and/or flexible laminations.

For my first installment, I’ll just skim over a few of the curved projects I’ve done and see if there is any interest in learning how to lay-up curved panels. If there isn’t I guess there is no point in continuing, but I suspect a couple of you will find the challenge irresistible and want to learn more.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, a lot of different kinds of cats, and even more tools and materials to use to get the job done. I don’t think I have done the job the same way twice yet and always consider how I would do it “better” the next time. In other words, I don’t claim to know the best way or all the ways. You can take what I have to offer and build on it. I’ll be interested in hearing your comments and ideas on how I could have done it better/different.

My first curved panels were made from 1/8” door skin because I didn’t know any better. I used hide glue to bond them and bent them over a 25.5” diameter form I made by bending heavily-kerfed plywood over 12” radius ribs. I can’t find a picture of it. Here is the result of the lamination:

And the finished product:

By the way, using the door skin instead of a material made to bend caused the panels to spring back once they were released from the form.

The next curved project I worked on was to design this:

And build the curved panels:

I also did all the veneer work and helped assemble the cabinet, but the shop I did this for did the finishing.

You can see this was quite different from the crude way I made the flower box panels above. I upgraded to a vacuum bag system, used panels made for bending, ureaformaldehyde wood glue, but still struggled with a number of problems. I will elaborate on this method in a continuation of this blog.

The most complicated curved project I did was this:

Working from a simple sketch, I designed and built this lectern and table using curved panels of the same radius. I believe I had all but one problem licked with this technique which I will share in yet another continuation of this blog. Here is one of the panels being glued-up:

I think this is the way to go and I will share complete details of the materials and procedures I used to make these.

Finally, I will share how I made two curved flat-panels doors. I am not particularly proud of them, but I did this in a relative’s basement in another state, without any of my tools and equipment, and without a vacuum press.

I brought only some 1/8” bending board and cherry veneer with me. We made a really simple form (sorry – no picture) and using 8/4 and 4/4 cherry my cousin had, whipped these doors together and hung them in a couple days’ worth of spare time. Cousin Chris gets credited with the procedure for making the curved door rails. It was much easier than what I had planned and you can see the result is great! See how he cut these out of the 8/4 cherry.

Not as nice as Les Hasting’s curved doors, but they worked and you can build them without a lot of money or time invested in jigs. Thanks for looking and check back for the details later!

-- Cuz

7 comments so far

View Ampeater's profile


440 posts in 3743 days

#1 posted 02-21-2009 06:16 PM

I am interested in seeing more. That lectern and table really look great.

I am looking forward to the next blog.

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View PetVet's profile


329 posts in 3483 days

#2 posted 02-21-2009 06:46 PM

This is a great blog. Curves add such a unique look to a project, and I have to admit I have never attempted them. Look forward to the next installment!

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

View Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)'s profile

Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)

176 posts in 3946 days

#3 posted 02-21-2009 09:00 PM

I am also looking forward to the next installment.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3553 days

#4 posted 02-21-2009 09:34 PM

Add me to the list. I am looking forward to this also. Now I know I need to get started on that vacuum system.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3437 days

#5 posted 02-22-2009 02:35 AM

Looking forward to this one, did you make your own bag? Don,t sell your work short mate it looks pretty fine to me.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View John8059's profile


53 posts in 3412 days

#6 posted 02-22-2009 03:12 AM

I just posted Part 2, might it might be too late to start reading it. Yes I make my own bags from vinyl I buy at Wal-Mart. I use a special cement that you can get from Joe Woodworker – can’t remeber the formula-like name of it. I use an assorment of plumbing parts to attach the vacuum hose, but I wish I would have bought some valves from Joe. Next purchase I will.

Thanks for the compliment and thanks for looking. Happy to answer any questions and open to suggestions.

-- Cuz

View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1305 posts in 3768 days

#7 posted 02-22-2009 04:04 PM

They look just fine to me, great work!

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

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