Bending Solid Wood #1: Day one

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Blog entry by Patrick Oughton posted 09-17-2008 01:31 AM 3512 reads 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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For my third course at the “Centre for Fine Woodworking” here in New Zealand, I decided to try “Bending Solid Wood” – a two week course with the project being a stool designed for the course by the instructor, local furniture maker David Haig. David also teaches in Maine and a few other places around the US and Australia. The school is in Nelson – a truely awesome little city at the north end of the South Island.

A winter morning in Nelson.

Going into the course all I knew about bending wood was laminating thin stock around a former but I wanted to try something different and this course offered exactly that. I decided to try and get two finished to keep my two girls happy.

Day one – we got straight into stock preparation for the steam bent legs – these started out as 50×75 (2” x 3”) blanks which were milled down to almost final dimensions. The stretchers were also prepared for steaming – these were milled to final dimensions (12mmx20mm). Once the 12 students had all prepared the leg stock we were introduced to the steamer. Due to the number of students there were 2 steamers available – one an easy to build plywood one (more on that later) and one was purpose built for David out of stainless steel.

Steam Box
The guideline was steam your timber at 100 degrees celcius for at least one hour for every inch thick (width of stock is not important during the steaming process).

Whilst the legs were steaming we split into teams and made a accurate leg template and 3 sets of formers plus 3 drying racks as we needed to have all the legs bent on day one (they take 3-4 days to dry out again).

Drying Rack for Legs

Drying rack for Stretchers

Former for Legs (with leg bent around it).

I think we left the legs in for around 2 hours to be safe, after that we started bending the legs, speed is important during the bending as the stock cools remarkable fast – we had about 1 minute to get each leg bent and clamped to a former. Fans were then applied to assist the cooling process and after about 30 minutes the legs were transferred to the drying frame and clamped in place. The next leg was then bent.

Bending a leg

End of day one – everyone happy, all legs bent and drying, and David pleased with our progress.

5 comments so far

View Ampeater's profile


440 posts in 3747 days

#1 posted 09-17-2008 04:25 PM

That looks nice. I’m waiting for your next post.

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

View Davesfunwoodworking's profile


278 posts in 3874 days

#2 posted 09-17-2008 07:22 PM

This is cool. I am working on a project that I am building a steam box for . I have never done it before and think it will be a fun project. I can’t wait to see how well it works. Yours looks like it works well.

-- Davesfunwoodworking

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3987 days

#3 posted 09-17-2008 07:49 PM

Looks nice! What type of wood is that?

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Patrick Oughton's profile

Patrick Oughton

30 posts in 3854 days

#4 posted 09-17-2008 10:35 PM

The legs are a mix of Oak and Ash, depending on how guick we were to get to the lumber pile.

View Houtje's profile


311 posts in 2971 days

#5 posted 05-08-2010 06:18 AM

I waiting for the next episode…
I love it thanks for sharing it….

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