Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bending Practice

Thursday, February 19, 2009.

Been trying my hand at bending wood for the last couple of nights - with limited success. This is not the easiest thing to do, I have found, and there are a lot of differing opinions and methods out there about how to do it. As per both Mr. Siminoff’s and Mr. Troughton’s advice, I am using a steel pipe heated with a propane torch.

I purchased some practice wood from Stewart-MacDonald and I am really glad I did. Not only did I destroy all of that, I was able to learn quite a bit in the process. One of the things I learned about the practice wood itself is that it arrives much thicker than you need. Mine came in at a shade over 3/16” thick, or about double the thickness I ended up wanting. I figured this out after destroying the first of the two pieces I bought. It wasn’t until I had actually started bending on the second piece that I decided to sand it to a more reasonable thickness. Here are the best results I came up with:

Just three small pieces out of everything I tried.

These are some pictures my wife took while I tried to bend a piece that was both too thick and too wide.

Some of the other things I have learned are:
  1. Making the wood really wet (soaking it) is a BAD thing. Using minimal moisture is better.

  2. Letting the pipe get really hot is a BAD thing. As Mr. Siminoff suggests, the pipe should only be allowed to get hot enough to let a drop of water boil off. Anything hotter is too hot. This, for my rig, means setting the torch to about as low of a flame as I can.

  3. The thicker the wood, the harder it is to bend. Once I got my wood to about 0.1” thick, bending it without breaking was much easier.
I have ordered more practice wood, too. I figure it probably makes sense to bend that to the correct shape, at least once, before committing to the real thing.

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