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Best Grain Orientation for Steam Bending?

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Forum topic by Lazyman posted 12-16-2017 03:53 PM 1787 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lazyman

2517 posts in 1531 days


12-16-2017 03:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: steam bending question oak beech

I’m planning a project that requires steam bending and before ripping the strips I need to bend, it occurred to me that it might be easier to bend if I orient the grain in one way or the other. Is it better to have the growth rings parallel or perpendicular to the direction of the bend or does it make any difference? It seems like it would be less likely to split along the grain if the rings are perpendicular.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.


9 replies so far

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Rich

3650 posts in 733 days


#1 posted 12-16-2017 04:34 PM

It’ll ultimately be stronger if you orient the grain along the bend. You wouldn’t build a shelf with the grain running front to back for the same reason.

The only reason I can see to have the grain across the bend would be for decorative reasons, like for a facia.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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jdh122

1038 posts in 2961 days


#2 posted 12-16-2017 05:06 PM

Getting wood with the least amount of grain runout is by far the most important. After that, if you can get air-dried instead of kiln dried it’s better. Otherwise most people seem to say that it makes no real difference whether you bend along the flatsawn or the quartersawn plane. I”ve not notice any difference, although I haven’t steam bent hundreds of times or kept rigorous records of my bending…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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Lazyman

2517 posts in 1531 days


#3 posted 12-16-2017 06:08 PM

Thanks Jeremy, that’s exactly what I was looking for.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3792 days


#4 posted 12-16-2017 06:38 PM

Putting a small chamfer on each corner can
help prevent grain from slitting out. I do
it and haven’t really had problems.

I’ve read that flat sawn wood bends better
than quarter sawn.

I wouldn’t recommend getting obsessive
about grain runout, but say you want to
bend a 36” long piece of oak. There’s
usually some runout on the board you’ll
be cutting the blank from. I draw a line
along the grain, band saw to the line and
run it over the jointer, then rip parallel on
the table saw.

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lndfilwiz

108 posts in 1744 days


#5 posted 12-16-2017 07:32 PM

Make sure you have your jig already built before you start teaming. I use to help a friend make bobsleds using 4X4 white oak for runners. We made a jig from a 16X16 beech log and placed a angle iron pocket on the front of the log The log was cut to the curve that we wanted the runners to be. We built a roller on heavy duty angle iron the pivoted around the curve ~ 4” from the curve. We used an electric winch to pull the roller/lever around curve jig. We let it sit for 2 days before taking it out. He made a 12” dia by 10’ long steamer. Made 10 bob sleds before he passed away!

-- Smile, it makes people wander what you are up to.

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shipwright

8086 posts in 2942 days


#6 posted 12-17-2017 01:19 AM

I always tell people to chamfer the corners as Loren said. In my experience (bending A LOT of ribs and planks in/on wooden boats) it is definitely better to bend on the flat grain than edge grain. In small bending however, it may not make a lot of difference.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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Lazyman

2517 posts in 1531 days


#7 posted 12-17-2017 01:44 PM

Thanks. I will give the chamfer a try. The piece I am bending is just slightly over 1/8” thick beech and 1’ X 60” but is kiln dried (nearly impossible to fine air dried wood in DFW area) and I am making a pretty severe bend so anything I can do to prevent a failure may help. The first try with flat grain split. I read that soaking kiln dried wood may help so that is going to be my next attempt but without access to air dried wood, I might be wasting my time.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Lazyman

2517 posts in 1531 days


#8 posted 12-27-2017 04:36 PM

Success. I did chamfer and soak the wood strips but in the end, I think that using a metal bending strap was all it took to prevent the failure. I simply bought a small roll of roofing flashing at Home Depot, cut a strip the same width as the wood strip and screwed some wood blocks to the flashing so the wood strips fit tightly between them. There was quite a bit of spring back but it was still set well enough to work. Thanks for the advice. I’ll post project post shortly but here are some shots of the results.


-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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shipwright

8086 posts in 2942 days


#9 posted 12-28-2017 12:06 AM

A hard setting glue like hide glue or urea formaldehyde will dramatically reduce spring back.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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