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.
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.