Best method to bend

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Forum topic by tamtum posted 03-04-2016 11:19 PM 489 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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180 posts in 1259 days

03-04-2016 11:19 PM

What’s the best method to make curve in a wood (chair leg with two or more curves). To use a solid piece of wood and cut it in bandsaw , steam bent from solid wood or laminated from thin strips?

-- Alexander , Greece,

9 replies so far

View eflanders's profile


84 posts in 1269 days

#1 posted 03-05-2016 01:50 AM

A laminated leg is by far the strongest. Steam bending (when done properly) is the second strongest. All of your ideas will work if your load isn’t very heavy.

View benchbuilder's profile


265 posts in 1869 days

#2 posted 03-05-2016 01:55 AM

I would say it depends on the locattion of the curves and wood used, the stress on the bends and amount of bend. I like lamination bending. But you can steam bend if the wood your using will bend as much as you want. I have built a steam bending boiler from pvc to boil the water in to produce the steam. . You can then pipe the steam into another pvc tube to steam it. If your just bending shollow curves I would use the lamination method. Band sawing reduces the strangth of the wood and band if you dont cut so the grain is in line with each bend.. just my thoughts but I am no expert!!

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

289 posts in 1881 days

#3 posted 03-05-2016 02:11 AM

Steam bending is less predictable and requires shaping, but no glue no slicing laminates. It is also to do slight bend with steam bending, you are better off bending steeper curves than shallower. Laminates can be very precise and you can predict spring back very accurately. Band sawing solid wood will leave you with shortgrain, which in theory leaves your piece weaker.


View JBrow's profile


744 posts in 339 days

#4 posted 03-05-2016 03:00 AM


I have done bent laminations with PVA glue, but have not yet done steam bending. Both methods are, in my view, stronger than cutting the curves at the band saw. The grain of the wood on these bending methods remains intact, enhancing strength.

I found that the PVA glue resulted in spring back. I have wondered whether this spring back is consistent and thus predictable. Logan Windram has answered this question. However, no spring back would be preferable. I am not sure whether no spring back can be achieved. However, since doing PVA glued bent laminations I have read that Resorcinol glue is a rigid glue less susceptible to creep found with PVA glues. If true and as a result, Resorcinol glue should minimize spring back. Since I have no experience with Resorcinol glue and bent lamentations, I cannot verify the claim I read.

View ThomasChippendale's profile


244 posts in 351 days

#5 posted 03-05-2016 03:55 AM

The best method depends on the result you want to achieve. Steam bending will result in less wood wasted but is more or less accurate and requires some specific equipment and energy. Cutting from a solid piece will use a lot of wood but sometimes, for a shallow curve is very nice and accurate. Laminating will apply for more contemporary furniture and if well planed for spring back will give a strong result with however the need for templates and a lot of glue and clamps.

Wha is your project ?

-- PJ

View shipwright's profile


7084 posts in 2217 days

#6 posted 03-05-2016 05:51 AM

Cabriole legs have been sawn for ever. As long as the curves are not extreme and the elements are not extremely thin, the method will work just fine.
Bent laminations employing hard drying glues like hide glues or urea formaldehydes will spring back minimally compared to PVAs which do not dry hard.
Steam bending results will vary with the individual pieces of wood and will be difficult to keep identical.

You choose. It all depends, as stated previously, on the severity of the curves, strength of the wood and thickness of the element. They are all workable although personally I would avoid PVA laminations..

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View JAAune's profile


1614 posts in 1736 days

#7 posted 03-05-2016 06:23 AM

It’s been said many times already. Mild curves can be sawn but more aggressive curves are weak and don’t look that great if they’re sawn out. If the piece will need a lot of shaping and weird joinery after the bend, steam-bending is usually the best since it can be cut like regular wood. Laminated parts are strong and can look almost like solid, bent wood but there’s a limit to how much they can be shaped.

For personal preference, I don’t enjoy making laminated parts but I do enjoy steam-bending. Consequently, I’ll usually choose the former wherever possible.

-- See my work at and

View tamtum's profile


180 posts in 1259 days

#8 posted 03-05-2016 11:09 AM

Thanks all of you for your answers.

-- Alexander , Greece,

View JackDuren's profile


119 posts in 378 days

#9 posted 03-05-2016 02:47 PM

Personally I like lamination. You can use one piece as long it is structurally sound in its use..

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