How to bend wood, the right way. I know how to do it the wrong way

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Forum topic by bodymanbob posted 05-03-2012 09:39 PM 8878 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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36 posts in 3260 days

05-03-2012 09:39 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple shaping victorian

I need to make 2 half circles from 1/2’’ 2’’ 37’’ to a 23’’ from end to end 1/2 circle. HELP Any and all ideas about this.

13 replies so far

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13640 posts in 3537 days

#1 posted 05-03-2012 09:53 PM


i little more info
would help

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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3030 posts in 2617 days

#2 posted 05-03-2012 10:14 PM

Proper defining terms for arcs and circles; Radius, (or Diameter), Angle.
Perhaps defining the wood thickness, Inside Diameter or Outside Diameter might help as well.

e.g. 180 degrees (Angle) at 13” Radius I.D. 1/2” Thick
This will help us better get the picture of what you’re trying to do.

Proper methods depend on how thick, what material, what tools are available, etc.
Heat will soften the lignon in the wood and allow bending such that it will retain the new shape when cooled.

Bending Irons work for thinner strips 1/4” or less. Steam chambers can soften thicker boards, but you need good jigs, a metal strap on the outside surface and lots and lots of clamps (and a few strapping buddies to muscle it into the jig).

Generally, wood compresses about 12% but only stretches 8% before cracking, so the metal strap prevents excessive stretching.

Cold bending often works with thin laminations. Vacuum forming can also be used with this method with various techniques.

There is also a method that first steams, then compresses the board lengthwise to “accordian” the fibers. This compressed wood can be stored wet inside bags for a long time then set into forms to dry into the new shape with relative ease. (It is commercially available, but not cheap)

As with most anything, there are a thousand ways to skin the cat. Experimentation is definately in order.

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

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36 posts in 3260 days

#3 posted 05-03-2012 10:51 PM

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36 posts in 3260 days

#4 posted 05-03-2012 10:55 PM

here are some pic..and 1/2’’ thick by 2’’ wide ….flat its 37’’ long after its bent it well be 23’’ from end to end i

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932 posts in 2551 days

#5 posted 05-04-2012 03:02 AM

The easiest way to accomplish this would be to make some 1/8th inch strips and glue them together against a from using a band clamp to secure it to the form while the glue dries.

The next more wasteful way is to cut the piece from a single piece of wood in the shape of your arc.

The third is to steam bend it, which my attempts to describe would sound confusing at the moment.

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

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775 posts in 2564 days

#6 posted 05-04-2012 04:50 AM

this will not b a problem!!!!see the band saw in my pic? thats a 34 in wlheel 1in thick an 2 in wide yep its made of wood…for a better look go to my projects band saw rebuild…want to see how i did it let me know an i,ll send u the pic of how its done


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204 posts in 2578 days

#7 posted 05-04-2012 05:57 AM

Ds251 and everybody else nailed it, the only thing I would add is you want extremely strait grained wood, rift sawn or quarter sawn. I usually make some kind of form and use (wooden form ,I’ve used a bicycle rim before) and an old band saw blade (for the metal strap) with the teeth filed down (so you don’t mar the wood) which is placed opposite the side you are heating against the form. Usually you want to over bend as it will spring back a bit, it just takes a little practice. Good luck.

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779 posts in 2461 days

#8 posted 05-04-2012 06:05 AM

“Do not try to bend the wood — that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no wood.”

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

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John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3933 days

#9 posted 05-04-2012 12:32 PM

It is recommended you use a resin glue such as Unibond 800 or epoxy for bent lamination work. The arc will retain it’s curve with very little spring back. PVA glues are much more flexible and will cause a lot of spring back.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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3030 posts in 2617 days

#10 posted 05-04-2012 03:59 PM

If I were doing this project, I would use 1/8” thick strips and cold laminate them into a form.
This seems to me to be the quickest, easiest way.

You can resaw solid strips on a bandsaw, then surface them with a drum sander wheel in your drill press. (Pass the strip between a fence and the drum – course grit works fine here)
Wrap your form in plastic wrap so it wont stick.

A strap and a caul on the outside of the form prevents marring from the clamps.

Option B would be to cut from solid wood in three or four segments, joining the ends.

P.S. Have fun!

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

View Jeff's profile


488 posts in 3391 days

#11 posted 05-04-2012 04:11 PM

If you cut this from a single piece of wood it will have at least one very weak spot, perhaps two, where the grain length is short. Bending a single piece or laminating several pirces means you’ll have the grain along the entire length of the piece. Depending on the wood species you may not be able to bend 1/8” strips without steaming. Soft woods are easier to bend, obviously. You could soften the wood by leaving in hot water for a few minutes.

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196 posts in 3326 days

#12 posted 05-06-2012 07:27 PM

You can always use cold-bend wood if you don’t want to glue up thin pieces.

-- Doug - As my Dad taught me, you're not a cabinet maker until you can hide your mistakes.

View jaidee's profile


51 posts in 2976 days

#13 posted 05-07-2012 05:25 PM

Lamination is definitely the easier method if this is your first foray into bending. But be aware that the “plys” will show if you are leaving the wood natural (as opposed to painting). If you are repairing the piece in the picture then steam bending would be the more natural looking and durable option. Fit the method to the need.

-- I used to be all thumbs......'til I got a tablesaw!

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