Bent wood lamination

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Forum topic by therookie posted 04-19-2011 02:22 PM 1634 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View therookie's profile


887 posts in 3030 days

04-19-2011 02:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip jig trick question resource

Hey all, I was wondering if anyone could give me some suggestions on how to bend a wooden cane out of hickory and walnut. I am looking for possible dimensions of the radius of the handle for example and a suggested length of the cane. I will end up soaking the 1/16” thick strips in a tub of water over night to make them pliable. That is once I make a form to bend them around. Thanks Adam


5 replies so far

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3489 days

#1 posted 04-19-2011 03:27 PM

While I don’t have extensive experience in bent laminations, I have done some. First, I don’t think you need to soak it all night. I have worried about that much water in the wood messing with the glue-up—maybe thinning the glue. Hopefully others could address that. You might look into steam bending. There are a lot of good videos online that are helpful. I’m thinking that’s the way I’ll go next time. I’ve seen them bend some pretty thick pieces that way. The down side is, there is some expece in building the steam chamber. If you are doing more than one, it might be worth it.

You are right about the forms. You need them however you do it.

Good luck


View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3053 days

#2 posted 04-19-2011 04:12 PM

I agree with Kent, steam bending is the way. There are some very low tech steam boxes around; that should be easy. Wood selection will be critical. Can you tell I know nothing about this subject?

I can speak, however, about soaking and bending, even involving canes. I built some and blogged the project here.

The soaking is not a problem if you use polyurethane glue.

I know I could not have curved mine into a typical cane handle, hence the applied ones.

Keep us up to date on this, Adam, maybe even do a blog. I’d love to follow it.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View lew's profile


12434 posts in 3958 days

#3 posted 04-19-2011 04:16 PM

At 1/16”, you may not have to soak the wood. I have bent thicker SOFTER woods without soaking. I am like Kent, don’t have a lot of experience with this so hopefully someone here will be able to provide an authoritative view point. I do know that you should support both sides of the bend to prevent the forces from cracking the laminate. Here is one way to do it

The metal strap can be a banding strap from a shipping box, if it’s wide enough.

The only other hint I have is to get everything ready and close at hand before you start.

Hope this helps.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 3030 days

#4 posted 04-19-2011 07:58 PM

Thanks for all of the speedy responses, I will be doing a blog about what I am going to be making. I will go step by step with making the form and all, so just give me time to do some more research and my next blog should be this or the bookcase I am working on.


View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3850 days

#5 posted 04-19-2011 08:22 PM

1/16” wood is pretty flexible. Soaking it will harm your chances in
my opinion. If the wood is over-wetted it becomes weak and
can break in bending.

If you have trouble coaxing the wood into the curvature you want
dry, try a luthier’s bending pipe. They are easy to make with a piece
of pipe and a propane torch.

There are a lot of tricks to bending. The Taunton book on bending
wood contains a lot of good ones.

The back strap method is good for bending thicker pieces but I
wouldn’t use it for thin pieces like you want to use.

I’ve built guitars using a hot pipe, and a side-bending machine I
built. I’ve also bend wood up to about 1” thick with a back-strap
and peg-table a-la Michael Fortune. For the thick stuff steaming
works best. Liquid fabric softener in your steamer can make the
wood more pliable. For the thin stuff, you can spritz it with
water, bend it over a form and hit it with a heat gun or compressed
air to chase the water out. That’s just one trick of many.

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