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Forum topic by andr3w1sh posted 09-06-2015 06:16 PM 1097 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1196 days

09-06-2015 06:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: new project shield press laminate questions basswood historic help

Hey guys! This is my first post and I’m super excited!

I’m planning on taking on a new woodworking project as part of another larger project, and I could use some help/input as it gets into some uncharted waters as far as my woodworking experience goes.

The plan: recreating a mid-14th century Germanic heater shield.

The details: basswood planks were used, butted together with glue and covered with canvas and leather. The finished dimensions of the shield should be 48cm wide by 58cm tall and 12-15mm thick. This converts to just under 19” wide by just under 23” tall and an average 1/2” thick.

My local Woodcraft store carries basswood planks in 4” by 24” by 1/4”, so what I’m thinking is making two panels and laminating them into a curve using a shield press. Check out the image for a little more clarity, and check out this link for more info about the shield press. Plywood is not historically accurate, but laminating to meet thickness is.

The alternative would be to either find planks in 1/2” or laminate the individual planks to make them 1/2”. Either of these would require me to shave the sides of the planks to an angle to get the curve in the shield once they’re butted together, and then sanding (a lot) to smooth the curve. I’d prefer to use the laminate/press way to achieve the smooth curve and a bit of added strength.

So I’m asking you, the experts, if what I’m planning is possible. Any advice or input you can give me on this will be greatly appreciated. Please and thank you.

-- please and thank you

10 replies so far

View MrRon's profile


5195 posts in 3446 days

#1 posted 09-06-2015 06:53 PM

Bending boards perpendicular to the grain will not work, except maybe for a very slight arc. I’m not sure if steaming will work before gluing/clamping. There is a product called bending plywood that would work.

View BurlyBob's profile (online now)


5986 posts in 2468 days

#2 posted 09-06-2015 06:58 PM

Andy, your going to have an extremely tough time bending that set up, laminated. My suggestion would be to build your frame, install the longer (vertical) pieces and smooth them into a curve. You’ll have to use sanders and a plane to two if you have them. When that’s all done, my next suggestion would be to either soak it in water to soften the wood for bending or make numerous partial cuts from one side of the board to the other. I’ve never done that but have seen it use to curve a board. A question I have is about the arc. If it’s a gentle one, the entire job will be a lot simpler. The more pronounced the arc, the more difficult the bending. Best of luck.

View andr3w1sh's profile


10 posts in 1196 days

#3 posted 09-06-2015 09:36 PM

Thanks guys for your help so far.

@MrRon, I want to stay away from using plywood. As fun as the plywood press looks, and as easy as it would be to get the desired effect, it’s just not historically accurate.

@BurlyBob, the arc is not very extremely harsh. The rule of construction per historical reference is that the shield cover the front of the body from shoulder to shoulder. This image is a pretty good approximate.

So it’s sounding like my idea of laminating the two plank blanks on the press isn’t going to work. If I were to just make a flat blank of planks and soak it, then put that on the press, would that work? Something like this image here.

If so, how would I keep it from “un-warping” and flattening back out?

Or is my best bet still going to be joining the planks into the shape of the curve and sanding, sanding, sanding?

Thanks again!

-- please and thank you

View jdh122's profile


1052 posts in 3020 days

#4 posted 09-06-2015 10:01 PM

If you’re interested in historical accuracy, then I think you should cooper the staves (a variant on what you say you want to avoid).
Soaking won’t help with bending, you need to introduce heat, either with steam or very hot water. I’ve never heard of anyone bending wood parallel to the grain, though, and the little I know about how steam-bending works suggests to me that it’s not going to work. But then, there’s a lot I don’t know…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Daruc's profile


460 posts in 1335 days

#5 posted 09-06-2015 10:09 PM

I don’t think you would have any problem bending 1/4” thick basswood pcs to that curve. Might get a little tough trying to bend 6 at a time but I believe it’s doable. You will need a lot of cauls and at every seam. Flexing back would be a little problem. You might exaggerate the curve and use urea glue to help. If you could use 3 layers it would be a better product.

-- -

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2689 days

#6 posted 09-06-2015 10:54 PM

Look on eBay or Google for Basswood. Woodcrafts price of $4.19 per piece of 1/4×3x24 inch piece isn’t just a bit high, it’s a “Holy Crap” epiphany!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 2664 days

#7 posted 09-06-2015 11:16 PM

Are those glued on top of each other? If so, you’re gonna have wood movement bonanza, if I’m understanding what you’re doing there.

Honestly, I’d cooper the piece. Then, plane down the high spots and sand like crazy until it was smooth.

Or, I’d solid wood edge band some bending ply, and veneer the big surface. But coopering will give you the plank look if that is desired.

View andr3w1sh's profile


10 posts in 1196 days

#8 posted 09-07-2015 02:25 AM

Thank you all for your help and input. This has been an educational post so far. I’m coming around to coopering this project, which is silly that it took me this long because that’s how they were historically made. Shame on me for trying to improve a tested and proven method, right?

@Dallas, thanks for the tip, I definitely am finding them cheaper on eBay, problem is I can’t seem to find any 1/2” x 4” x 24”. Apparently no one makes basswood planks in those dimensions. So I’m back to my original problems, but I’m thinking I could get 10 of the 1/4” planks and just laminate them together in two’s so that I have 5 planks at 1/2” thick. Then cooper, plane, and sand like crazy as suggested.

Unless anyone knows where I can find some 1/2” x 4” x 24” basswood?

You guys have been great, thanks again.

-- please and thank you

View jdh122's profile


1052 posts in 3020 days

#9 posted 09-07-2015 12:46 PM

I would think that if you have the tools to cooper this lid you probably also have the tools to convert 3/4 inch basswood to 1/2 inch. It can be done by handplane or on a tablesaw or bandsaw, or even with a well-sharpened ripsaw. I think you can probably also find a shop that would run them through a planer for you. Your local lumberyard may even offer this service. Or if you tell us where you live maybe a member of this site lives near you and can help.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View andr3w1sh's profile


10 posts in 1196 days

#10 posted 09-08-2015 06:46 PM

Good news, everyone! (Farnsworth voice)

I found a guy on Etsy of all places that sells basswood in specified dimensions and for pretty cheap (for the planks I need around $3 a board)

So now it’s just to the coopering of the proper-sized planks, which brings me to my next question I’m hoping you guys can help me with. Is there a good formula to use to determine the angle of the bevels needed to get the desired curve? Or is this a trial and error thing?

Oh and I wanted to thank Jeremy for letting me know I can reach out to this community for actual physical help as well. I’m in Sacramento.

-- please and thank you

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