Bending Wood

Bring your new ideas to life and create new furniture designs andwoodworking projects with bended wood. If your trying to make an electric guitar then no unless your making a hallow body like im going to.. if your making an electric guitar, those are built with many layers of wood that are then glued and stack on top of each other the use a jigsaw to cut out the shapes of the peices and then they are sanded down really well to get out all the bumps from where the jigsaw went out of line some companys also use laser cutters to cut out the peices of wood.

Some variations in shape and thickness can be worked around with the hands by applying more or less pressure to certain spots, but generally it is difficult and sometimes impossible to force wood to bend where it doesn’t want to. Also, wood forced to bend around variations in thickness will often revert over time as the item is exposed to variations in temperature and humidity.

Red oak is a popular bow wood for beginners, though it has less than optimal cast and some less than satisfactory shooting qualities, it makes an average to good flat-limbed pyramid style bow, and i have even seen semi-english longbows made from it. the key is not throwing your money down the drain to break your bow and your heart, its putting your heart into what you do. eventually you will come out with a good, dependable bow, and a whole lot of pride in what you made.

Bending can be grouped into several basic categories including: bending green” or bending wood that was recently alive and hasn’t dried; soaking in warm water; adding more heat, which can relax the wood fibers; steam and heat, which forces moisture deep into the wood, allowing the wood to bend easier; and bent lamination, which takes several layers of thin wood — cut thin enough to bend on their own or with the added moisture from the adhesive — and gluing them together in a curved form.

I’m currently engaged in a woodworking project designed to create a little excitement, and bending wood is at the very heart of it. I’m part of a group of historians and aviators who are recreating the six experimental airplanes of the Wright brothers, beginning with their model glider of 1899 and ending with the 1905 Wright Flyer 3, the first practical airplane.

Yes you can place the wood in the steam box and let it get nice and moist and then use an outlinne shape that you want to make the guitar and shape the wood on the inside of that outline shape and then let the moisture evaporate from the wood and youll be good, the wood will try to bend back in to its original shape thats why you need an outline shape so when the wood trys to bend back the outline shape will stop it from doing that.

There should be a way to load and empty the steam box that doesn’t require the user to wait for the steam to reach its peak production or allows the wood to be soaked in water. The wood bends properly when its fibers are saturated with water vapour – the moment when this is the case can be felt, but patience is required. After sufficient heating time the required curvature can be made in the strip by bending it on a bending jig.


The breaks depend on many variables (heat, thickness, type of wood, how you cut it, techniques to loosen the lignin bonds, etc.) It is normal to get breaks but the percentage of breakage has decreased significantly as I continue my work. Another way to bend wood without fussing over the temperature is to use my mother’s recipe for beef brisket. Not surprisingly, then, thinner pieces of wood are easier to bend successfully than thick pieces. I also think it is better to rive the wood than to saw it. In sawing you cut too much of the grain and it is harder to bend with out breaking. After appropriate time, remove wood from box and place steamed wood in the form.

They also provide a visual clue as to the readiness of the steam box to accept wood. I have no experience with steam bending, perhaps like others because building a PVC pipe steamer seemed like a biggish project. Compressed wood, however, does not need to be heated before bending, which provides with the possibility to execute the bending right on the spot. Start by clamping it to the first block, then bend slowly around to the next one to avoid cracking the wood.

It doesn’t make much difference what you use provided you generate sufficient quantities of steam that is hot enough and that doesn’t result in the destruction of your steambox (or shop!). You will need a coat hanger or a few feet of heavy wire as supports inside the steam box to keep the wood off the bottom so heat can get to it from all sides. I used to use an old Coleman campstove with a pressure cooker to hold the water, but found it barely yielded enough steam for ribs. There has to be a way to maximize steam volume without the danger of building up pressure that can lead to either an explosion or uncontrolled steam escaping the box.

He had a method of bending a piece of timber that did not require any special equipment: he simply used a household kettle, some absorbent cloths and a selection of cramps. I drilled a hole in the top for the thermometer, and one in the bottom of the door, for a steam vent. When steam bending you want the grain to run parallel to the length, you do not want grain to have run-out along its length. I learned all this from a guy who builds greenland fabric on steam bent frame kayaks.

If sheet metal is not available, a sacrificial strip of wood can be used as the bending strap but most likely will not be as effective. As a general rule, the steamed wood should be placed on the bending clamp immediately after it is removed from the steam box to prevent fractures. While the wood is steaming, a bending form or jig should be set up for actually bending the wood to the shape desired after it is removed.

My strap is built into my comealong chain tensioner setup, I can achieve 212 degrees of heat, and steam all night if needed. You can make steam boxes in numerous shapes, out of wood, metal or even PVC plastic. Think of how much more zen” life would be if you were able to multitask in half the time. The simplicity and integrity of creating graceful curves by steam bending fall very much in line with my philosophy of woodcraft. I cover the wood with a single layer damp towel and heat by passing back and fourth(ironing) with an old steam iron until it is plyable enough to take a bend.

The second is to use a bending strap, a strip of 20 gauge sheet metal approximately the width of the work piece and a few inches longer in length. I did not drill the holes first because I didn’t want to introduce any additional weak spots for bending. Normal wood glue sets soft and quickly, making it less ideal for this kind of project. Really, i wouldnt risk an expensive wood like osage orange on a starting bow anyway.

Another possible answer is there may be steam escaping from the seals or the box is too thin, and loosing heat. Keep the soaking the towel with boiling water until the wood is softened enough for bending – somewhere around 10 minutes should do. If all you have is a couple of ribs to bend, this is a great method. I can use it in my basement workshop without having to worry about open flames and homemade equipment. The timing depends on the wood, the thickness, and the heat and amount of steam.

I have seen videos that don’t involve steaming, instead actually soaking the wood in room temperature tap water, then pressing into a two part form and allowing it to dry. The original shape can, however, easily be restored by bending the two sides over the tube for a short time. Curvature jig: Bending to the required shape can be started once the wood has been heated sufficiently. He first built himself a huge steaming contraption out of old steel barrels welded together end-to-end. A steam source can be as primitive as a tea kettle with a piece of hose taped to the spout.