Are you interested in learning how to bend thick wood? If your answer is yes, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we will be exposing you to a comfortable method of bending thick wood.
Many people wonder how woodwork professionals can get curved designs when making furniture and wood projects. If you’re one of those with this thought, then you are about to learn what it takes or how to do it.
How Do You Bend Thick Wood Without Breaking It?
We want to show you how you can bend wood via the bent lamination process. Now, what is bent lamination? A bent lamination process involves using multiple layers of strips bent around a form with glue in-between them and clamped down to the form to create the shape of the bending form when the glue dries. You also need to know how to soften wood for bending.
1. Make a bending form
The first step is to make a bending form. To make the bending form, you have to cut your outside radius or any shape that you want to bend your wood to. Then you cut an inside radius small enough so that the clamps you’ll be using can reach over your bending form and the workpiece that you’ll be bending, clamping them down firmly.
2. Rip strips
After making your bending form, the next step is to rip your strips. If you’re using a table saw, you should be aware that your strips can be pulled down into your table through the throat plate. To avoid this unfavorable scenario, replace your throat plate with a zero-clearance throat plate. Once you replace the throat plate, you can now rip your strips.
Set the gauge on the rip fence to the closest one-eighth of an inch mark that cuts the least amount of material off your wood.
3. Shape the edge of the board
After setting the gauge on the rip fence, shape the edge of the board. You will be making one-eighth of an inch strip. Follow this process to get as many pieces as you need. This process gives you comfortable and bendable one-eighth-inch strips. If you use the same measurement for all the strips, each of them will be consistent.
4. Get some glue
Get some glue and a roller to apply the glue to the strips. You can pour the glue into a tray and from it, dip the roller in then apply it to the strips. Apply glue lightly to each piece. Continue this process until you cover each strip with glue then clip them onto each other until you get the desired thickness.
While doing this, it would be best to have all your materials available because the process requires a limited amount of time. If you exceed this amount of time, it may become difficult to bend the wood.
You should also try to avoid the standard wood glue for bent laminations. Standard wood glue seems not to be ideal or effective for this purpose. It gets soft quickly, but you need your wood hard for wood-making projects.
If you are looking for ideal glue, you can consider epoxy. This is suitable for this purpose but more expensive than the standard glue. Cheaper but equally effective glue is the urea-formaldehyde glue. This glue takes longer to dry, but when it does, it results in hardwood.
5. Clamp the strips to your bending form
The next step is to clamp all your strips to your bending form or form (for easier understanding). Place the wood on the form. It would be best if you had a buffer between the wood you are bending and the form.
A pad or buffer is to protect the wood from marks that the clamp may produce from the pressure applied for firmness. Also, if there is glue on the surface of the strip, it can react with the steel from the clamp to leave dark marks on the strip. Now clamp the pad and the wood to the form.
6. Lay the wood down
Lay the form down along with the clamp and the strips. Continue to use more clamps to clamp the strips until you reach both ends. Leave for at least 8 hours.
7. Unclamp the strips
After this amount of time (about 8 hours), unclamp the form. If you perform the process excellently, you should get wood that is consistent with the shape of your form.
Tips to help with thick wood bending:
The following tips will be helpful if you are trying to bend thick wood.
Make all materials available
Before you start the process, ensure that all the materials you’ll need for the task are available. You do not have the luxury of time when it comes to this project. For this task, you need some glue, a roller, clamps, and even your table saw, inclusive of a zero-clearance throat plate.
Make one-eight inch strips
The reason for making one-eighth-inch strips is to create bendable wood. As you know, thick workpieces or boards are difficult to bend. However, thin boards are bendable- that is easy to bend. This is why you need to make strips first before thinking of making bentwood.
Avoid the normal glue
When performing this task, it is necessary to use glue different from the normal ones used for wood projects. Ideal glue is epoxy. It may be a bit more expensive than your standard glue, but it is much better to choose this as it delivers excellent results. Another wonderful option is Urea-formaldehyde glue. Any of these two can suffice for the project.
The process above is a convenient and straightforward method on how to bend thick wood. There is another process called the wood steaming procedure. As a beginner in the woodwork industry, you may find this process challenging, while it may not produce the desired result. So, we decided to stick to this process.