Bending Wood

Wood is a timeless material that fits nicely with any style of decor. If you are able to bend it, it has countless applications, including furniture, kitchen surfaces, banisters and sculptures. There are several methods of bending wood, and most require specialized tools, including molds and forms. But, bending wood is something that can be done at home to great effect.

Steam Bending

Steam bending is an old method of bending wood, but it remains the most popular method. To use steam to bend wood requires building a steam box, a water container, a connection hose, and a source of the steam. The box can actually be a PVC or metal pipe, if the wood will fit inside, otherwise, some sort of wood box is easy to make and will be effective.

The box or other container should into be made airtight- if some steam is not allowed to escape, the box can explode. As long as you can see drops of water escaping the box, it is not airtight. If the box is too airtight, drilling a few holes in it will help.

The water container can be made of any material, but will have to be able to be attached to a hose. A tea kettle is sometimes used for its portability and built-in spout. To make steam, you need heat. One of the safest methods to use for heating water for bending wood in a workshop is a hot plate or a small camp stove.

The chosen water container can then be heated up on the heat source. The steam will travel up the hose and into the box chose for bending wood. The general rule is to allow about an hour of steaming time for every inch of thickness of the wood. After the steaming is over, the wood should be taken out of the box, using gloves, and placed into the form that will shape it. It should be clamped into place quickly before the benefits of the steam have worn off.

Laminated Wood Bending

Laminated wood bending is a simple method for bending wood, though it can be time consuming. It requires the use of a mold to shape the wood, like the steam method, but there are no risks of burns or steam explosions. The main principle with laminating is that it is much easier to bend thin strips of woods than thick ones. A stronger wood can then be gotten by laminating the thin strips together to make a stronger, thicker wood.

The materials needed for bending wood with this method include the thin strips of wood, which should be longer than the final length will be. They will be trimmed after the bending process is finished. The wood should be quite thin- pieces that are 1/8 inch or even thinner are easy to bend and will work well. You will also need the glue that will bind the wood strips together, and a mold or form that will shape the bent wood.

The wood strips should then simply be clamped into the mold. Each layer should have glue spread on it before attaching it to the wood in the mold. After all of the pieces have been glued together, allow the glue time to dry. After it has dried, the ends can be trimmed to shape.

See Also: How to Bend Plywood