Curved Panels - adding another dimension to woodworking. #4: Easy Does It - curved panels without a vacuum press

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Blog entry by John8059 posted 03-07-2009 04:23 PM 1597 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Building a better form for curved panels - 201 Part 4 of Curved Panels - adding another dimension to woodworking. series Part 5: Putting it all together - a simple curved door. »

I couldn’t find any pictures to make this easier to demonstrate so I whipped up this:

The object here is to demonstrate how a curved panel might be made without a vacuum press. A picture is supposed to be worth a 1,000 words so I’ll cut it short. The lighter-colored material in the center of the picture is supposed to be the end result. You will have to imagine that it is 2 or more layers of bender board (see #1 & 2 in the series). With this technique you will not want to use the urea formaldehyde glue and since you will most likely eventually have to veneer the curved panel, I recommend you get some of Joe Woodworkers cold press veneer glue and use that to bond your curved panel bender sheets.

The golden-colored objects in the picture represent more bender boards that bridge the ribs (labelled BENDER in the diagram below) and support the panel between the upper and lower ribs. Also, I might add that I don’t think you need to actually bond these bender sheets to the ribs. Further, I can’t prove it but it would seem that the more ribs you have, the better the form would be. I also think that may not be the case with the bender bridge sheets and I would use just one thickness of the thickest material you have. If you don’t want to buy anything thicker than 1/8 bender, then maybe you ought to use 2 plys for both top and bottom bridge sheets.

You will have to make some calculations to determine the radii in the diagram above (NOTE – it is not to scale and not intended to suggest any proportions). Start with the finished panel and work your way out until you get the radii of the upper and lower ribs. Make all your ribs from a single pattern (one for upper and one for lower) and be sure to include some way to align them all.

This may be over kill, but you could also include the thickness of your veneer in the calculation. You should then place one thickness of the venneer above and below the finished curved panel when you lay it up. When you get your curved panel made, you can re-use the press to adhere the veneer to both sides of the panel at once by squeezing the veneer sheets and curved panel in the form again. I did not go to that extent and did not have any problems with the panels or the veneer. I would NOT try to do the panel and the veneer at the same time.

Maybe I’ll come back with a little about the veneering later. It doesn’t get any easier than in this application. Also I will share how my cousin machined the curved rails that hold the top and bottom of the panels in the doors shown below.

I see I forgot to mention that this will work simply by piling some weight on top of the form. The bender does not offer much resistance. You could use clamps and you could also find 13 other ways to accomplish this. Finally, be sure that your upper and lower ribs are aligned before you apply pressure or you may end up with a wavy mess!

-- Cuz

7 comments so far

View Marco Cecala's profile

Marco Cecala

189 posts in 4027 days

#1 posted 03-07-2009 06:00 PM

I just discovered this series. Thank you for sharing with the group. You have good information to pass on, and present it in an interesting way.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4094 days

#2 posted 03-07-2009 07:28 PM

A picture is worth a thousand words and here you have spoken volumes.

Thanks for sharing how you execute such great ideas.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18266 posts in 3670 days

#3 posted 03-08-2009 12:41 AM

Thanks for the info. I read through your series and the place in FL you posted for material. I never did figure out what you are actually using for “bender boards”. Could you please elaborate on what material they are?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3571 days

#4 posted 03-08-2009 02:05 AM

Nice explanation and drawing good work John


-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View JonJ's profile


163 posts in 3834 days

#5 posted 03-08-2009 08:39 AM

That’s cool. Often a jig or form is just as interesting (if not more so) than the finished piece.

-- Jon

View John8059's profile


53 posts in 3411 days

#6 posted 03-08-2009 03:39 PM

Sorry about the link guys. It seems that website is put together using frames and I gave you the “main” frame. This link should get you to the correct page.

If not, select the “QPS Online Catalog” link from the drop down at the top of the main page. Then select the BENDING PANLELS tab and you will see the selection. There are no instructions for working with the panels there. I don’t think I ever found any literature about how-to (that is not to say there isn’t some). I asked friends and related similar experiences to the task and found the way(s) I have presented here.

As I mentioned earlier, I do not know of any difference between bending birch and bending lauan. Maybe it is a mistake? Maybe it is worth asking them about? The difference between barrel and column – when you roll it up, does it look more like a barrel or a column? It bends easily in one direction only.

At the link you will also find several other bending products that may better suit your needs. I can not comment on any of them but would love to hear how they worked for you if you should try them.

I am working on the final installment right now – making the rails and stiles and putting the curved panel doors together. Hope you will chack back for that.

-- Cuz

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3552 days

#7 posted 03-09-2009 01:37 AM

Great post. I like the way you explained this.

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

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