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!