Simple Wood Bending Method

The idea of bending wood into arches and other curves can be quite daunting if you’ve never done it before. How often have you gazed in wonder at the beautiful intricate shapes of wooden architecture, marveling at the sheer creativity of the workman? Such extraordinary shapes and designs can be made only with the aid of bended pieces of wood.

There are a few popular ways to bend wood including steam bending, kerf bending, microwave bending, laminate wood bending.

For my projects, I tend to use the laminate method and so I’d like to share with you a how-to video I like that describes this process very well.

Wood Bending Method

As demonstrated, this particular type of bend is called a bent lamination where you use multiple layers of wood with glue in between them bent around a form and clamped down. When the glue dries, the wood retains its shape.

The first step is to make a bending form. First cut the outside radius with help of the table saw, then inside radius small enough so that your clamps will reach over the form and the piece you are bending.

Next, you rip the strips, keeping aware that they can be pulled down into the table saw through the throat plate. To avoid this, you should replace your throat plate with a zero clearance throat plate.

After this, you will rip the strips. To do this, you must get a good set of screwdrivers. You’ll see how this is done in the video. You then make a pass shaving off the edge of the board to the closest 1/8 inch. Repeating this will give you several bendable laminate strips ready to be glued and bent.

Apply the glue with a roller. Roll out the glue on the strips, stack your glued strips, then clamp them to the curved form. Whenever possible, use a pad so you don’t mark up or dent your wood. Start with the center.

Repeat this clamping process until all the strips are curved and clamped to the form. Let it dry for 8 hours or more, unclamp the form and viola! A nice consistent curve the exact shape of your form every time.

Build Your Own Boot Butler

I would like to share with you how to build a boot butler. I don’t know about you but I find it difficult to stow away all the shoes and boots that accumulate at the home entry. I built this simple “Boot Butler” to stash them away yet keep them easily accessible:

Start by downloading the assembly diagram here: Boot Butler Assembly Diagram

1. Cut the Plywood Parts

Cut all of the following parts with a hybrid table saw and straight edge (refer to the cutting diagram at left to see how to lay out and cut all the parts from one sheet of plywood): seat (A), seat underlayment (B), leg panels (C), frame side (D), stretchers (E), shelf (F) and stiffener (G). Smooth out the sides of the legs, the top edges of the stretchers, and all the edges of the seat and underlayment with a sander or a router and 1/4-inch round over bit.

2. Assemble the Shelf

All the plywood parts are connected with screws and glue. Before you drive the screws, drill counterbores for the screw heads that are just deep enough to be filled with wood filler or putty. Attach the stretchers and shelf by drilling four evenly spaced 3/is-inch diameter pilot holes through the outside edges of the stretchers and into the front and back edges of the shelf. Keep the screw holes at least 2 inches from the ends of the stretchers to prevent splitting when you drive the screws. Glue the joints (drawing 1), and drive 2-inch deck screws through the pilot holes and into the shelf.

3. Build the Box Frame

Now attach the two frame sides (D) to the ends of the shelf assembly. To accomplish this, mark the location of the parts onto the frame sides. Begin by measuring and marking a line 2 inches up from the bottom edges of each frame side. This is where the lower edges of the stretchers will fit when the stretchers are installed.

The stiffener (G) is positioned between the frame sides at the top center points to provide stability to the box frame. Mark the stiffener position, making sure the top of the stiffener is flush with the tops of the frame sides, and apply glue to all the joints. Clamp the stretchers and stiffener in position with bar clamps. Drill two evenly spaced 3A&-inch-diameter pilot holes through each frame side and into the ends of the stiffener. Drive the 2-inch deck screws to secure the stiffener (drawing 2). For extra shelf support, drill pilot holes and drive a screw through the center of each frame side into the shelf

4. Complete the Leg Assembly

Attach leg panels (C) to the outer faces of the frame sides to provide wider, more stable support points for the seat. Put wax paper or newspaper on your work surface to catch any excess glue, then apply glue to the outer face of each frame side, and to the inner face of each leg panel. Press the leg panels against the frame panels, centered side to side to create a 1/2-inch reveal on each side of each frame panel. All top and bottom edges should be flush. Clamp each panel pair together, then secure with counterbored 1 1/4-inch deck screws driven through the frame panels into the leg sides. Check the box frame to make sure it is square by measuring diagonally from corner to corner, across the tops of the leg assembly. Use a pipe clamp to draw the frame together until it is pulled into the square, and the diagonal measurements are equal.

5. Attach the Seat Assembly

The seat is made from two sheets of plywood: a 3/4-inch thick underlayment (B) layered together with the plywood seat (A). Lay the underlayment on a flat surface, then flip the leg and shelf assembly upside-down and center it on the bottom face of the underlayment. Outline the edges of the frame onto the underlayment for future reference (drawing 3). Flip the leg and shelf assembly upright, and apply glue to the tops of the legs and stiffener. Position the underlayment on the assembly according to the alignment marks. Drill 3/16-inch-diameter counterbored pilot holes through the underlayment into the legs and stiffeners, then drive 2-inch deck screws.

Apply a thin layer of glue to the top of the underlayment and the underside of the seat. Position the seat onto the underlayment so the overhang is the same on all sides. Set heavy weights on top of the seat to help create a solid glue bond (drawing 4). Drive evenly spaced, counterbored 11/4-inch deck screws through the underlayment into the seat. Finally, cut the aprons (H) from 4-inch wide pine ranch molding. Position the aprons so the tops are flush against the bottom edges of the underlayment, overlapping the edges of the frame panels slightly. Attach with 8d finish nails.

6. Apply Finishing Touches

Fill all of the countersunk screw holes and plywood edges with wood putty and sand smooth. Apply primer and paint we painted our boot butler with cream-colored exterior latex enamel paint. For a decorative touch, stencil or sponge-paint the surfaces.