Bending wood

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Forum topic by Mrowell posted 01-05-2017 04:25 PM 939 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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279 posts in 1616 days

01-05-2017 04:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question trick resource ash oak clamp shaping bending curved wall wood slat

I have recently been asked to do a decorative wood wall that will give a staggered plank look. Normally this is a piece of cake on a strait wall but this particular wall is more of a U shape. Does anyone have suggestions of the best way to accomplish this without steaming each individual plank and bending it to the wall? I was thinking maybe something like 1/8” oak plywood would work? Another option I thought about (Although time intensive) would be to resaw solid wood to 1/16’-1/8” and bend it in place? Any input would be great because it is a large wall so any ways to do this efficiently would be greatly appreciated.

-- Matt R

9 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1396 days

#1 posted 01-06-2017 03:06 AM


I doubt that my post is much help, but I can think of only the following methods for shaping the face of wood to conform to a curve. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Without understanding the problem a little better, I am unable to say which method I would be inclined to use. However, if minimizing time is of paramount importance and varying thicknesses of material applied to the wall can be overcome, thin and hence bendable plywood would be a fast way to complete the wall.

1. Steam bending
2. Glue Laminating
3. Bending a Veneer on a bendable surface (e.g. veneer plywood)
4. Backside Kerfing, where a series of parallel kerfs are cut in the back side of the wood that are deep enough to permit the wood to bend
5. Assembled Staves, where edges of the staves are beveled at whatever angle is required to make the bend when joined together.

Backside Kerfing and Assembled Staves produce a segment of a polygon. If a smooth curve is needed, the show surface must be fared to produce that smooth curve; planning, scraping, and sanding.

If the inside corners of the U shaped wall are 90 degree corners, one more method may be an option. This method uses the table saw to gradually cut a cove into a corner transition piece. The coved corner board could then be beveled on each edge at 45 degrees for a smooth transition to the wall planks on the straight sections of the wall, since the coved corner board would be attached diagonally in the corner. Also the abutting straight section planks would also have to be beveled at 45 degrees. Getting tight joints between the coved corner board and the straight section planks could require some fine tuning, the extent of which would depend on how plumb and square the overlaid walls are and the accuracy of the bevels.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4124 days

#2 posted 01-06-2017 03:14 AM

No efficient way to do it. It’s likely to be
a time consuming job. This is the sort of thing
clients will say they want, then you figure it
out and make a bid and they change their

You’ll have to bend solid wood, do some
fascimile with bending plywood, build it
up out of layers… you could also use bendable
plastic moulding and faux finish it to look
like wood.

View runswithscissors's profile


3060 posts in 2501 days

#3 posted 01-06-2017 04:45 AM

Using vertical staves would be one solution.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4124 days

#4 posted 01-06-2017 05:00 AM

Yeah, def. try to sell the client on vertical staves.

I would charge like $3-5k for that wall and I am
already well set up and experienced with steam
bending. A $5k quote will chase off a client’s
dream pretty quick.

Doing staves is just like a standard time + materials
carpentry job.

I’ll note that a curved bulkhead on a yacht would
typically be done with staves. Try to find some
pictures of yacht interiors maybe to sell the client
on the idea.

View shipwright's profile


8355 posts in 3274 days

#5 posted 01-06-2017 05:29 AM

If it’s just decorative, bendy plywood “boards” veneered to look like real wood would be an out but Loren’s right, vertical is the natural way to do that.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View aceline's profile


1 post in 1922 days

#6 posted 01-06-2017 05:44 AM

bending wood is one of the trending style of furniture.

View Lazyman's profile


3868 posts in 1863 days

#7 posted 01-06-2017 04:14 PM

How tight is the curve? Is it an inside curve or outside curve? The radius of the curve may dictate if it is even possible and how hard the various methods would be.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1396 days

#8 posted 01-07-2017 05:38 PM


Since your original post I saw a product used on a This Old House project called Wacky Wood. It is extremely flexible and bendable. I know little more about the product but it may be worth a look.

View Cooler's profile


299 posts in 1319 days

#9 posted 01-09-2017 02:46 PM

There is bendable plywood.


Saw kerf method:

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

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