Woodworker's Guide to Bending Wood

A good introduction to the mechanics of bending wood.

Woodworker's Guide to Bending Wood

Woodworker's Guide to Bending Wood



I’m sure we’ve all looked at the gentle curve of a chair leg or the severe bends of a violin’s sides and wondered how it was done. This book by Jonathan Benson takes the mystery out of wood bending and reveals to the woodworker how it was accomplished.
 
This isn’t a book on furniture making or a collection of projects utilizing formed or bent wood elements. Rather, it focuses primarily on the mechanics of bending wood. Whether it be for the curved leg of a table, the side of a guitar or violin, the spring of a bow, the oval of a Shaker box and more, this book probably describes how it was done.
 
Strictly speaking, it isn’t a project book because, although Benson does include plans for things like a Shaker box and a willow wood chair, other projects focus only on the bent elements of larger items like the sides of a guitar or the legs of a chair. The real strength of this volume lies in its excellent overview of the whole topic of bending and forming wood. As such, the author covers the physics and mechanics of bending wood, the problems one might encounter when bending, when to bend, the options available (bending around a form, vacuum bending, microwaving, etc), the uses of steam, water and heat, the bending characteristics of 82 wood species. the equipment and tools one would need, panels, laminations and adhesives and demonstration projects.
 
The book relies heavily on color photos and they are excellent. In fact, the text is there primarily to support the photos; a picture is definitely worth a thousand words and there are plenty here. However, like many facets of woodworking, there is no substitute for experience. My own experience is limited to bending the thin woods for the sides of musical instruments. I have found that even within a species, each piece of wood is different when it comes to bending and developing a feel for the both the wood and the process is critical. Only through experience can you develop a feel for how much pressure can be applied while staying just below the breaking threshold, how much heat can be applied without scorching the wood, or how severe a bend your wood can withstand before fracturing.
 
That said, even if you have no intention to bend wood, The Woodworker’s Guide to Bending Wood makes for an interesting, informative read. Benson does an excellent job of presenting the multi-faceted topic of bending wood to the average woodworker and taking the mystery out of those curved elements we all marvel at in good furniture design and musical instruments.


CHAPTERS:

  • Bending Wood Then and Now
  • Getting Started in Bending Wood
  • Bending Green Wood
  • Materials and Techniques for Bending Forms
  • Bending With Heat, Steam and Water
  • Solid-Wood Bent Laminations
  • Bent Panels
  • Finishing the Edges of Bent Panels
  • Glossary
  • Resources
PUBLISHER:Fox Chapel Publishing
AVAILABLE FROM:Your local bookseller or online
RETAIL PRICE:$29.95
FORMAT:Softcover, 179 pages
ISBN:978-1565233607
YEAR PUBLISHED:2009
AUTHOR:Jonathan Benson
Reviewed by Gerry Tsuji
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