How to Curve Wood in Five Different Ways

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This is how to curve wood in five different ways. By the end of this post, you will know five different methods of bending wood, and you’re sure to find one of them that will work out just perfectly for you. Enjoy.

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Curving and Bending Wood

How-to-Curve-Wood-in-Five-Different-WaysThere are a lot of reasons to bend a piece of wood. When you are making furniture, instruments, or other fun wooden items, a curved piece of wood is a sight that attracts a lot of interest from people passing by.

Wood is a fairly dense item, so seeing pieces that are curved or bent is still a bit of a novelty. In furniture, it’s interesting to see drawer fronts that are curved, and headboards that have curved features.

It’s a lot of fun to make these is a woodworker as well, and it’s even more fun to get attention from your work because of the curves. Thankfully there are several different methods that you can use to bring curved wood to your projects, and they are all pretty easy.

I’ll show you several coming up, and you can start practicing them right away. They are all a little different way of accomplishing the same task, and you can pick the one that you feel the most comfortable with.

See Also: 13 Woodworking Ideas to Help Any Beginner

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Lamination in a Press

First and foremost, one of the absolute easiest ways to curve a piece of wood is to laminate together several thinner pieces a wooden press. This involves no heat, steam, or any process that you’re not already familiar with.

If you can glue together a bunch of thin strips of wood, then you can also put them into a curved press, and create a curved piece of wood. The concepts are very similar to normal woodworking, and this is the easiest way to get into curved wood.

Let’s say for example that you are making a curved drawer face. All you need to do is get a few thinner pieces, coat them with glue, and press them into a curved drying form. When they come out, they will look like one piece that has a curve to it.

These forms are really easy to make, it’s just a couple of pieces of wood that you can clamp together to hold the shape you want your curved piece to take. You can make any shape you want pretty much, and your imagination is about your only limit.

Many times rocking chair glides are made this way, because it’s a far more efficient use of resources then cutting away a bunch of waste from a larger piece of wood. All you do is glue up several thinner strips into a curved press, and when it comes out it’s a chair rocker.

See Also: 19 Incredible Tips on Working With Wood Glue

Steam Bending

Another method of bending what is called steam bending. This is where you take a piece of wood and put it in an environment of high temperature and steam and moisture, which permeates the wood and makes it flexible.

You can also bend wood using forms after your piece comes out of the steamer box, which is an easy way of setting the wood to shape. All you do is bend your wood around the form, and let it cool and dry and it will hold the shape.

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A steamer box can be made yourself or you can buy it. There are also lots of plans for using a tea kettle and making your own wooden box. Any way you go, steaming wood is an interesting way to curve it.

See Also: 50 Awesome Reasons to be a Woodworker

Heat Bending

Another way to curve a piece of wood is with heat. The sides of acoustic guitars are bent with a hot pipe and a wet piece of wood. It’s a process that does require a little bit of learning and some practice and patience, but it’s definitely something you can learn.

Even if you’re not making guitars, you can bend pieces of wood and make round jewelry boxes, round lids, and even wooden cups. These are all fine woodworking projects, and all because you know how to bend a piece of wood.

Find your bender online, especially if you are not comfortable with making one yourself. The temperature settings will be a lot easier to deal with than if you make yourself, and you won’t have to worry as much in the beginning.

See Also: 19 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Woodworking

The Book Store is Now Open!   Happy Building!

Kerfing the Wood for Bending

When you take a strip of wood and you cut several slots in it that go nearly all the way through but not quite, it creates a board that is flexible. You can then curve the board into many different shapes, and it doesn’t require heat or glue.

If you take a strip of wood and make cuts almost all the way through about every quarter-inch, that strip will become flexible. At that point, you can bend it to different shapes, and use it to make curves on wooden projects and furniture.

You will have to address all of the cuts obviously, but in the case where you are going to be covering the wood anyway, the kerf cuts will not make a difference. The linings of acoustic guitars are made this way, and it’s easier than bending a quarter inch thick piece of wood.

See Also: 11 Great Ways to Find Woodworking Inspiration

Cutting and Stacking Wood

How-to-Curve-Wood-in-Five-Different-Ways-stacking-gluingAnother interesting way of curving a piece of wood is to cut it and glue it together again in such a way that it makes the wood look curved.

There is a pretty simple track of cutting a curve into a piece of wood, and then taking the inside piece and putting it on top and gluing it.

Once you line up the grain really well, and create a very strong and very tight glue joint, the fact that it’s two pieces almost disappears. Most people will never see that the curved piece is actually too pieces, and it’s a very neat little trick.

If you think about your woodworking in different ways, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to come up with a bunch of little tricks like this. The more time you spend in the shop, the more these things you stumble upon, and the better woodworker you become.

See Also: 15 Great Places to Get Woodworking Wood

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know five different ways to curve a piece of wood, it’s time to go out in the shop and give at least one of the methods a try. The easiest place to start is either kerfing or lamination, because neither one of them require any special equipment.

You don’t even need to make the curved piece of wood for any particular purpose, all you need to do is demonstrate yourself that you can complete the process. As you are doing it, something amazing is going to happen, I promise.

The amazing thing is that you’re going to come up with a bunch of different ideas that you can do with this new wood bending technique. Seeds like this are awesome, and they always lead to more amazing ideas.

If you have any questions on how to curve wood and five different ways, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.

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brian forbes westfarthing woodworks llc owner

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