Incorporating bends into furniture will make the piece. They add attractiveness, creativity, style, and art to an otherwise simple product. Some projects are impossible to complete without bending. For example, fishnets, snowshoes, canoes, boats, and guitars rely on bending to the max.
Bending can be an enjoyable process if these simple principles are followed.
1. Select the right method of bending for the task.
~Will your bend have to support itself? Or will it be braced by other parts of your project?
~Some types of bends will work better in various operations.
2. Always consider your choice of wood for bending. Some woods bend better than others.
~Select a straight-grained piece for a higher quality bend. Knots and curved grain will result in cracks and splits.
~Quarter-sawn wood is better for bending then flat-sawn.
3. Design forms or molds that are effective and well suited for the bending operation at hand. These are required for most bending operations.
This small fishnet displays an example of two types of bending, lamination bending and hydro bending.
Taking two or more pieces to achieve a certain thickness and degree of bend. A mold is required for this operation, it holds the degree of bend while the glue cures. You will need to use thin stock, amounting in several thin laminations for tight bends (1/8”-1/4”). For larger bends you can use thicker laminations (3/8”-5/8”).
Make a two-part mold by removing the middle section of a laminated block.
Plan on spring back! After stock is removed from the mold or form, the work piece often expands slightly straighter than the curve of the mold. Another method of holding spring back is to incorporate a brace to hold the bend on your project. However, be aware that too much tension will likely self-destruct your project.
Re-saw your stock! To prevent waste re-saw your stock on the tablesaw or bandsaw using a fence.
Gluing Make sure you select the appropriate type of glue for your bend. Remember some glues are rigid and some are non-rigid. Non-ridged glues will lose their bend unless “clamped” in place.
Cutting kerfs or saw cuts across or with the direction of the grain, causing the stock to bend. This practice is more effective when cutting kerfs with the grain. Always back your kerf bending with a thin lamination on the backside. This will help hold the desired shape for a lifetime.
Practice kerf bending on a scrape piece!
-Cutting kerfs too deep will leave lines on the visible surface of the bend.
-Cutting kerfs too deep will result in a break on the bend.
-Cutting kerfs too shallow will not allow the work piece to bend.
Appling steam to the wood to help soften grain fibers causing it to bend. Requires a steam box or enclosure, which can trap the steam and help it absorb into the wood. Caution: Steam can be pressurized, to much pressure will result in an explosion.
-Source of steam can be as simple as a kettle on a one-burner stove.
-Wood should be steamed for one hour for every ¼” of thickness.
-Use care not to over steam the wood, this will weaken it.
-Use a flexible metal strap on the backside of the bend as a support for difficult bends.
-When steaming multiple pieces, allow room for the steam to flow between each piece.
-Tilt the steam box slightly so the water can run out the other end.
-Use three different supports, all at different heights.
An economical stream oven for occasional uses
For Under $50
AVOID STEAL OR IRON FASTENERS IN YOUR STEAM BENDER, THE COMBINATION OF TANIC ACID IN THE WOOD, MOISTURE AND IRON WILL STAIN YOUR WOOD BLACK
Soaking wood in water for a period of time to enhance the flexibility of the wood and allow it to bend. The stock will need to be fairly thin for this operation. If the stock is too thick the water will never make it to the middle of the stock.
Soaking can be done in:
-Aluminum or vinyl gutter.
-Ceramic Cylinder or Container.
AVOID STEAL OR IRON FASTENERS IN YOUR SOAKER, THE COMBINATION OF TANIC ACID IN THE WOOD, MOISTURE AND IRON WILL STAIN YOUR WOOD BLACK
Soaking too long can cause damage! The grain structure is weakened significantly if left submerged in water for too long.
Using veneer or thin plywood to accomplish a bend. A form or mold is necessary for all veneer bending. Veneer is sometimes permanently adhered to the mold or a form that will remain part of the project.
-Use vacuum pressure to accomplish quality veneer bends.