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So you want to bend wood for a project, but you don’t have a steam box handy? Don’t worry; you can still bend wood to your will even without steam or using a steam box with other effective wood bending techniques. This guide will show you how it’s done.
Basic bending wood techniques
You must remember one thing when it comes to bending wood, you must give it time. Wood is naturally flexible despite being high in moisture but once it is cut or after felling, the wood starts to lose moisture and begins to harden. When this happens, it may take a lot of time, and effort, for wood to bend to different shapes. The following techniques do not use heat or steam but can take time to bend wood.
Things you will need
- Wood you will be working on
- Laminate (epoxy or glue)
- Cork liner
The lamination method
The lamination method uses a laminate or a special kind of glue to bend wood. You will be using a form or a pattern where the wood will be set in order to take up the form. The laminate will then be added in order to force the wood to take up the form.
1) Prepare the wood to be bent
Cut the length of the wood strips longer than the final measurement. You need to do this because this technique will shorten the length of the wood. Draw a diagonal line using a pencil and a ruler across the bottom of the stock. This is done should the wood strips become dropped or rearranged. You will be able to tell which piece fits to where.
Cut the wood strips using a straight-grained edge. Don’t set it on the face-grain side because this will let you put back the strips with very little interruption.
Use a cork liner to line the form. The cork acts as an anchor for the lamination. It will still even out any irregularities when the wood is in its sawn form. This will make the wood easier to work with.
2) Adding the laminate
Now place the glue on top of the wood strips. The glue will help the wood hold its new bent shape. A disposable paint roller can apply glue to the wood easier compared to using a sponge or a paintbrush.
After covering the wood with the glue or laminate, place it in the form. Do this quickly before the glue has set. You must apply another layer of strips with glue to further enhance the lamination process. You may repeat this process until your wood develops the right thickness.
3) Secure the wood with clamps
Clamp the wooden pieces together. Keep the wood clamped until the glue has dried. Check the manufacturer’s information on how long does the glue dry before wood may be manipulated. Once the glue has dried, cut the ends according to the desired measurement.
Using the kerf-cutting method
The kerf cutting method is another way to bend wood and is also known to be very effective. This uses almost the same technique as wood lamination but with a few minor differences.
- Cut notches 2/3 of the thickness of the wood. The kerfs should be located on the inside of the curve you want to bend. Take note that the kerfs should be just the right lengths or these may result in breaking and cracking the wood.
- Try to get the kerfs at least 1⁄2 inch (1.3 cm) apart. Create even spacing in between kerfs.
- Cut across the grain to reduce the chances of splitting wood.
- Remove the gaps made by two notches by compressing the ends of the wood when the shaping or bending is done.
- After the wood has been bent, you want to make sure that it remains this way. Maintain the bend by using a laminate. Apply a laminate or glue to the wood. Disguise the kerfing by mixing glue and sawdust to fill the spaces that are found in bent wood.
- Wait for the glue to harden completely before using it for any project.
It is possible to bend wood even without applying heat or steam. You can use kerfing and lamination methods, two effective and equally popular wood bending techniques. Follow these to the T and you will be bending wood and making more bent and shaped wood projects soon.