Bending wood question...

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Forum topic by Vince85 posted 01-28-2014 08:19 PM 935 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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23 posts in 3201 days

01-28-2014 08:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bending birds eye maple walnut

I am working on a small little project that I need to bend some wood for. The piece that I am trying to bend is only 1/4” thick. I have never tried bending before but have always wanted to. The woods for the project are walnut and bird’s eye maple. The piece I want to bend is the maple. I have tried two techniques that I read up on, steaming it (30mins) and boiling it (1 hour) and barely got it to budge. Is bird’s eye maple not a good wood for bending? Would walnut be any better or should I just scrap the idea of bending either of these two types?
Any advice would be helpful and very much appreciated!

4 replies so far

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2713 days

#1 posted 01-28-2014 08:26 PM

Kiln dried maple is one of the most difficult to bend. Air dried works much better. Walnut is better also. Extend your steam time to about an hour for kiln dried 1/4”.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3670 days

#2 posted 01-28-2014 09:08 PM

Doing more than a slight bend in most 1/4” hardwoods without
a backing strap is asking for breakage. With a backing strap
and end stops I think you’ll have a reasonable chance of
succeeding on your first try.

View jumbojack's profile


1677 posts in 2647 days

#3 posted 01-28-2014 09:16 PM

1/4” is kinda stout for bending. Can you split that? You will have much better luck trying to bend 1/8” and do a lamination.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2339 days

#4 posted 01-28-2014 11:00 PM

Air dried woods always bend easier.

Also, for 1/4” stock I’d consider hot pipe bending. It’s a musical instrument technique for bending thinner woods. The hot pipe technique will allow you to escape the necessity of using a backing strap and end stops. Basically you just need to heat a metal pipe to around 230-240 degrees Fahrenheit then rub one side of the wood over the pipe until it softens a little.

-- See my work at and

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