How to Bend Plywood

Although bending plywood is not a common practice that is used in many do-it-yourself type projects there are sometimes that a project calls for the need to bend plywood. Boat making is just one example of a project which may involve bending plywood. Whatever the need for bending plywood, the homeowner will need to determine a strategy for completing the task.

The methods of how to bend plywood may be vastly different but they do accomplish the same task. Whether you need to bend the plywood to a precise angle or you are simply bending the plywood to create an effect will be an important factor to consider in determining the method you will use.

There are some types of plywood which are flexible enough to be bent into a desired shape without additional treatments. However, thicker pieces of plywood require more work to bend them into a desired shape and this article will examine one common method for how to bend plywood and will also include information on methods for bending other types of wood such as 2x4s.

Steam Bending Method

One popular method for how to bend plywood is the steam bending method. Care should be taken in using this method because steaming the wood can bring it to temperatures that can scald the skin.

Heavy gloves should be used to handle the wood during this process. The wood should be inserted into the steamer and kept inside for a set duration of time. The general rule of thumb is that it will require one hour for each inch of thickness to make the wood pliable enough to bend.

While the plywood is in the steamer the next step in the process is creating a form to hold the plywood in place until it dries. Flexible plywood can be used to create this form. Manipulate the flexible plywood into the desired shape and use a series of 2x4s to hold the plywood in position. Fasten the 2x4s to the flexible plywood until they form a sturdy infrastructure.

Once the plywood is ready to be removed from the steamer, the next step in the process of how to bend plywood is to carefully remove the plywood and place it over the mold built in the previous step. Again, be sure to wear heavy work gloves when handling the plywood and use your gloved hands to bend the plywood over the form. Next use clamps to secure the plywood and prevent it from moving.

Kerf Cutting Method

We have already looked at one method for how to bend plywood and now we will examine one of the simplest methods for how to bend other types of wood. One such method is the kerf cutting method. This straightforward method involves cutting a series of small notches into the wood. A chop saw can be used to make a series of cut along the side of the wood which will be on the interior of the bend.

When making these cuts, care should be taken to avoid cutting deeper than two thirds of the depth of the wood. Doing this may make the wood susceptible to breaks as it bends. After the cuts are made, the wood can easily bent into the desired radius. Once the wood is in the desired position, wood glue can be inserted into the cuts to help the wood hold its shape.

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Luan Plywood Subfloor