CNC vs Steambending Hardwood

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Forum topic by Bobjaan posted 04-03-2018 04:03 PM 1035 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1027 days

04-03-2018 04:03 PM

Hi All

I am a complete novice and wanted to ask some advice from the experts on Lumberjocks.

I would like to make the wooden coat hook as shown in the attached picture using white oak or beech wood.

From my research I can make this hook with either a CNC router/machine or by steam bending.

My question is, will there be a big difference in the strength of the hook if made with CNC compared to steam bending and which is stronger?

Link to picture of hook here:

Best regards

11 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2819 posts in 1136 days

#1 posted 04-03-2018 04:15 PM

strictly a personal choice.

are you a craftsman or machine operator ????

a craftsman would do it all by hand ~ and a CNC operator . . . . well, you get the picture.

either or is fine = the screws will pull out of the wall before the wood breaks.
how much could a coat and possibly a walking stick weigh ??


-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Bobjaan's profile


3 posts in 1027 days

#2 posted 04-03-2018 04:37 PM

Hi John, I am an accountant looking for some advice from people who might know more than me about woodworking. My question is about the strength of a wooden hook made via steambending compared to using a cnc machine. Is this something you would be able to shed some light on for me? Best regards Cornelis

View Loren's profile


10938 posts in 4622 days

#3 posted 04-03-2018 04:44 PM

Bent, either by steam or by lamination would
be stronger. I don’t see much reason to cut
such a thing out with a cnc machine. A band
saw is adequate and short grain oak is strong
enough for a coat hook anyway.

View Matt Rogers's profile

Matt Rogers

112 posts in 2944 days

#4 posted 04-03-2018 09:15 PM

If you are looking to manufacture this as a product to sell, let me know as that is what my business does for small companies looking to make new products. I would steam bend this and it will certainly be stronger that way.

Matt Rogers
Clean Air Woodworks

-- Matt Rogers, and

View Lazyman's profile


6359 posts in 2361 days

#5 posted 04-03-2018 10:46 PM

CNC seems like overkill to me. Unless you are just dying to try steam bending or already have the equipment (steam generator and box) to do it, I probably would not go that route either. Bent laminations would be simpler for something this size It would be fairly easy to cut these out using a band saw or maybe even a jigsaw or scroll saw if you don’t make them too wide. When cutting them out (or steam bending for that matter), try to orient the grain so that it runs (or almost runs) end to end. This will make them stronger.

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

View Loren's profile


10938 posts in 4622 days

#6 posted 04-03-2018 11:06 PM

I have steam bent small pieces up to about 3/8”
thick by bandsawing a 2-piece caul out of scrap,
putting the well-steamed wood in it and closing
the caul in a vise. I never tried a bend as much
as the coat-hook. I’d expect failure, but the caul
trick is easy to try out.

View bbasiaga's profile


1259 posts in 2969 days

#7 posted 04-04-2018 12:22 AM

The advantage, at least on paper, with steam bending is that the grain of the piece would be continuous. If you imagine cnc cutting that out of a thicker block, there would be some short grain wherever wood was cut out of the way to make the shape. In the wrong place, this could mean a weaker piece.

On a bent piece, all the wood is still there, so all the grain strands are longer and more continuous. In theory, stronger. Imagine the grain like fault lines…ehen you stress them so they compress together it is very strong. If you stress them to peel them apart they can be weak. Hopefully that helps with the visualization.

The reality is that for the application any hardwood may be strong enough for either method of construction. On the flip side, you could cut or bend a piece in the wrong orientation and have a failure either way too.

Cnc is good for some things and overkill for others. I would probably band saw this out as well, and sand or plane to shape.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 3436 days

#8 posted 04-04-2018 01:12 AM

If you’re only doing a few, I’d do laminations and bend these over a form. If you’re planning to do a bunch, you could rig up a form to bend a ton of these at one time, leaving your pieces long to give you plenty of bending ability, then just shape them later.

The cost to CNC an item like this would be wasteful, imo- if you we’re to design something out of sheet goods and need hundreds of them, this would be your option.

View johnstoneb's profile


3165 posts in 3146 days

#9 posted 04-04-2018 03:35 AM

steam bent will be stronger because you have uninterrupted grain. CNC will leave you with short grain somewhere.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Bobjaan's profile


3 posts in 1027 days

#10 posted 04-04-2018 04:36 AM

Thank you all for your replies. I really appreciate it. Have a great day everyone. Best regards Cornelis

View Woodknack's profile


13543 posts in 3354 days

#11 posted 04-04-2018 05:12 AM

Or harvest and use wood that is already bent.

-- Rick M,

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