How To Bend Wood Using The Bent Lamination Technique?

Many wood pieces, especially furniture, utilize bent or curved pieces of wood in construction. There are many techniques that can be used to create curved pieces of wood. Bent lamination technique is used to produce a solid, curved piece of wood using a bending form, multiple strips of wood, wood glue and clamps.

Check out this video by The Homestead Craftsman for more tutorials:

The bending form is typically made from several thick layers of wood glued together. To make your own bending form, simply cut an outside radius that is the shape you want to bend into. Then cut the inside radius, making sure the finished product is not wider than your clamps can accommodate. The finished shape should look something like a rainbow, or half the circumference of a circle.

The next step is to cut the wood strips. When “ripping” strips, be aware that the strips can be pulled down into the table saw through the throat plate. To prevent this, replace the table saw’s current throat plate with a Zero Clearance throat plate.

Set the gauge on the rip fence to the closest 1/8th of an inch increment that cuts the least amount of material off your wood board as possible. This will shave off the edge of the board. Move the rip fence gauge 1/4th of an inch each time to allow the 1/8th inch thickness of the saw blade plus the 1/8th inch thickness of the strip sawed off of the outside of the board. This is the safest and most efficient way to rip nice, bendable 1/8th inch consistent strips. Repeat the process until you have the necessary amount of strips.

The next step is the begin gluing the strips together. You will need to attach the glued strips immediately to the bending form, so be sure to have all of your supplies ready and easily accessible before you begin: The bending form, wood strips, glue and clamps. You will have a limited time to complete this process before the glue dries.

A roller can be used to more easily apply the glue. Apply glue to the roller from a small pan and roll the glue onto the strips. Roll a thin amount of glue onto each strip, rolling glue onto both sides of the strips that are on the inside of the shape and on one side of the strips that are on the outside of the shape. Stack the strips evenly on top of each other.

A pad can be used to act as a buffer between the wood strips and the clamp. The amount of pressure that a clamp is capable of exerting can easily mark or dent the wood. Glue left on the outside of the strips can react with the steel of the clamp and leave dark marks on the wood.

Place the center of the strips on the center of the arch of the bending form and attach the first clamp. After the first, and centermost, clamp has been attached, lay the wood on its side to make it easier to handle. Attach a multitude of clamps to the bending form and wood strips, until all sections of the strips are bent tightly to the form.

Your laminations will need to dry for at least eight hours. After which you should be left with a consistent curve in the shape of your form.

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