Wood bending question

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Forum topic by Chelios posted 05-11-2010 03:15 AM 1691 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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568 posts in 3029 days

05-11-2010 03:15 AM

What woods lend themselves to bending? What woods don’t bend? What is the process by which they bend? Can I do this in my shop or is this something you need special equipment for?

8 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117060 posts in 3540 days

#1 posted 05-11-2010 03:27 AM

Hey Chelios
The wood I think is best know for bending is red oak there’s a pretty long list of woods that can be bent.
One of the worst bending woods is pine.
Bending wood can be done with steam or with the lamination of thin strips glued on a form.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3029 days

#2 posted 05-11-2010 03:35 AM

Thanks Jim

I have plenty of red oak to experiment. How long does one steam the wood before it bends?

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3029 days

#3 posted 05-11-2010 04:06 AM

I thought that was the temperature for checking beer can chicken!...I am glad I remembered this because I might have tried it.

good one!

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 2968 days

#4 posted 05-11-2010 04:52 AM

Steam bending is kind of a science. You need to loosen the bonds that adhere the wood fibers together with steam and then force one face of the wood into compression and the opposite one into expansion by using a bending caul, usually made of iron banding with a stop on each end to keep the compression and expansion forces in the right areas to keep from collapsing the inner face or tearing the outer.

Smaller pieces may not need it, just bend it around a form or attach it to the project, like a boat knee or something.

Steam boxes and steam bending have been around for a long time. Google has lots of results.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View TheDane's profile


5399 posts in 3626 days

#5 posted 05-11-2010 10:04 PM

I’m considering building a steambox like the one LJ Hallmark posted last week ( ).

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

260 posts in 3086 days

#6 posted 05-12-2010 02:14 AM

I recently taught a class on building Norwegian Tine boxes. There is one in my project list. Think Shaker box getting pillaged by Vikings. The bending pieces were 3” x 28” x 3/32” cherry and birch.

My steam box was a piece of 4” abs sewer pipe with rubber caps. The steam source was my wife’s floor model clothes steamer. I connected it to the steam box with a piece of 5/8” heater hose. I steamed the wood for at least an hour. I could get 4-5 bending pieces in the steam box at a time, along with some spacers to allow steam circulation.

A guy in the class brought his “steam” box. His had the same general dimensions as the one posted last week by Hallmark. This box was custom bent out of sheet copper. He filled it with water and sat it on one or two hot plates and boiled his bending parts.

One might think if steam is good, boiling water is better. I think the steam worked better. I believe it penetrates deeper and has more heat.

-- Tony -

View buffalo689's profile


175 posts in 2970 days

#7 posted 05-12-2010 01:55 PM

First,You have to choose your wood wisely,knots and wild grains will break your b…chops.

-- bill

View rance's profile


4255 posts in 3123 days

#8 posted 05-12-2010 02:46 PM


Take a look at the one Norm built on the Hat Rack Episode (#2110). PVC, New/Clean can, radiator hose. His looks the simplest, safest, and easiest to build. Only change I might suggest is a wet rag door, although Norm’s has vent holes all along the bottom, so it’s probably a moot point. The wet rag might be easier access though.


-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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