Question on steam bending hardwoods

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Forum topic by Jack Lewis posted 10-15-2018 04:17 PM 580 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jack Lewis

576 posts in 2203 days

10-15-2018 04:17 PM

My project design involves bending boards of 1/2” thick and 7 1/2” wide. I will taper them to zero equally on both sides the length of the board. I want to press them into a form to shape them. My question is: Can a board be bent across the grain or is a crack inevitable?

-- "PLUMBER'S BUTT! Get over it, everybody has one"

4 replies so far

View MJCD's profile


611 posts in 3496 days

#1 posted 10-16-2018 01:37 AM


My guess is that you’re asking all lot of the process: while I’m sure there are creative people out there (in TV land) that have done this, I don’t know them. I’ve seen videos of schedule 40 or sch 80 pvc pipe connected to a steam source; then a quick scurry to a form; then a faster scurry to get the clamps engaged.

I’ll offer a different thought – just because I haven’t been helpful yet – rip the board into 1” (approximate) slats, then miter the slats to conform to your form – I do this for rocking chair headrests. Once the glue dries, you can use an angle grinder (I do) or other sanding device to smooth the piece.

If you are at-all interested in this kind of workaround, I’ll be glad to go into more detail.


View lumbering_on's profile


578 posts in 1615 days

#2 posted 10-16-2018 01:48 AM

If it’s just for show, you could use ‘kerf bending’.

View OiBowyer's profile


26 posts in 1117 days

#3 posted 10-16-2018 01:56 AM

It depends on the length and depth of the bend. A slight bend and you might be ok. You’re probably asking for trouble though. If you have time money and patience for experimentation, then go for it. If not I would try to find a work around. If you posted a little more about the project (especially lengthy and depth of bend and why it must be bent that way) more folks might be able to give better advice.

-- Matt Bielenberg- turning student

View Sylvain's profile


1283 posts in 3624 days

#4 posted 10-17-2018 03:09 PM

MJCD is right
“rip the board into 1” (approximate) slats, then miter the slats to conform to your form ”
Although riping in 2” or 3” might be sufficient for the particular case.
The idea is to use the technique used to make barrels or steamer trunk lids.

Now twisted wooden airplane propeller are made with layers of laminated boards.

All depends of the intended use.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

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