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Forum topic by Blackacre posted 01-19-2012 12:19 AM 1195 views 2 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2379 days

01-19-2012 12:19 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question shaping

This is my first post, but I’ve been reading here for a while. There is a lot of great knowledge to be found on this forum, so I thought I would post a question that I can’t find the answer to (I’m fairly novice with woodworking).

I was looking at maybe trying to duplicate this toy and build one for my son, but I can’t figure out how they shaped the plywood (marine grade, according to their website) for the front forks:

I’ve had some experience with vacuum pressing veneers, and using foam molds in a vacuum bag to make my own shaped plywood, but those bends are nothing like these. Is this something that steaming could accomplish? Or is there some industrial grade technique that I don’t know about?

Thanks guys.

6 replies so far

View zindel's profile


257 posts in 2646 days

#1 posted 01-19-2012 12:50 AM

i guess is they used bent lamination…although it does look like plywood and it is possible they used bendable plywood and laminated a few sheets of that together. but the spokes look like bent lamination and that is just cutting thin strips and bending them on a form and then gluing them all together. Takes some time but works great and is very strong.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, You've got an electrical problem.

View Blackacre's profile


4 posts in 2379 days

#2 posted 01-19-2012 12:59 AM

Hey thanks!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3070 days

#3 posted 01-19-2012 01:18 AM

I would guess that the flat material in the body of the bike is marine grade plywood. I expect the curved stuff to be thin sheets of material that are bent and laminated (glued) in that position.

Before building a bike like this, I would recommend some practice with scrap material to figure out how to do the laminating. You need to build a jig that you bend the material around first.

From my experience, these curved pieces, like the front fork are quite strong with respect to pressure from the outside in and quite weak with respect to pressure from the inside out. If you took that fork in your hands and pressed the bottom together, it would hold and no damage would be done. OTOH – try to pull the ends of the fork apart and you may break it with your own hands.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View DS's profile


2917 posts in 2416 days

#4 posted 01-19-2012 01:49 AM

Office furniture is made like this all the time. Like others have said, it is bent lamination.
Start with 1/10” thick veneer plys and bending forms.
The result is very strong for the thickness.

Heat is usually used, but not always necessary since the plys are thin, the ratio of thickness to the radius of the bend is slight.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Blackacre's profile


4 posts in 2379 days

#5 posted 01-20-2012 02:52 AM

Ok, that’s excellent. I appreciate the answers. I have a bunch of 1/16 inch Rock Maple that I can practice with, I’ve just never attempted a bend of quite this degree. Would I be right in guessing that I could only really accomplish this if I’m bending the sheets that are cut cross-grain as opposed to long grain? (I’ve attached photos to show).

Long grain:

Cross grain:


View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2351 days

#6 posted 01-20-2012 08:07 AM

Well depending on how flexible the wood is, it might need to be thinner.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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