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Thread: Bent laminations for a Morris chair

  1. #1

    Bent laminations for a Morris chair

    My project is a Morris chair with bowed armrests. I will be using cherry. The armrests will be 5/4" thick. They will be 5 1/4" wide. After building an MDF bending form I will glue narrow strips of cherry around the form to the desired thickness. My question is-- how thin do the strips of cherry have to be? Will I be able to bend 3/8" thick strips? I would like to use as few strips as possible. I have read plans that call for 3/8" thick strips to be laminated. Those plans were for an oak chair. I'm wondering if cherry will bend as readily. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    When i made my chairs, i want to say i drumsanded the laminates down to 1/8-3/16". 3/8" might be a little on the thick side, but im sure it would work. I would make a full length caul to support the pieces along the full length of the bend. You might see a little more spring back after you take it out of the form.

    Why do you want as few as possible?

  3. #3
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    The laminates have to be thin enough to bend over the curve you've chosen. Without telling us the radius of your bend, you're asking a question which cannot be answered.

    What I do is to first design the chair, then make the bending form to whatever curve the parts need. (If you're planning on using only two or three laminates, there will be some springback, so the form should have a smaller radius than the eventual parts.) Then cut a test laminate, and see if you can bend it over the form using whatever clamping means you plan to use. If that thickness of laminate doesn't bend well enough, run it through the planer again to get a thinner laminate. Repeat until you're comfortable. Then make more laminates and glue them up.

  4. #4
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    I am getting ready to start on some Morris chairs. What plans are you using?

  5. #5
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    1/8" should be ok. It is a slight bend.

    MK

  6. #6
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    I agree with Jamie on the springback on laminations that thick. I made mine ⅛" and core banded the edge to hide the glue lines. I then went over the top with one last lamination covering the banding and finished by chamfering the edge down to the lamination layer.

  7. #7
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    I did two of these chairs in QSWO. The first set I did three laminates so fairly thick. There was 'some' springback but not much (less than I expected even). The second set I used 4 laminates (no particular reason, just because I had some previously resawn material that thickness). Springback was quite small. I would not expect much difference in behavior from cherry, as mentioned the curvature is not that much.

    The first set I sanded to a smooth finish. The second set I went straight from resaw to glueup (my resaw setup is working pretty good so a decent surface for glueup/tight fit).

    Some progress pics of the first chair here (https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....6-Morris-Chair)

    Post pictures when finished, it is in the works to do a third chair from cherry so I will be keen to see how yours comes out!
    Last edited by Carl Beckett; 09-06-2019 at 4:10 PM.

  8. #8
    Thanks everyone for responding.
    Joe, I am using a plan from Wood Magazine published in 1999. I bought it from woodstore.net. The plan says to glue up three 3/8" thick pieces to form a 1and1/8" thick armrest. I mistakenly wrote earlier that the armrests would be 1and1/4"thick. I think I will see if a 3/8" piece bends around the form. If not, I will plane to a thinner thickness until I get pieces that bend properly. In the past I have bent red and white oak for projects. The oak was bent using a steam box. Since I have never bent laminated wood and never used cherry I am unsure how cherry reacts to being bent.

  9. #9
    What is the radius of the bend? I bend 3/4 x 1 cherry for music stand legs to a 10" radius after steaming. Since you have a steam box, I would suggest steaming the 3/8" pieces, bending them onto your form then let them set for a day or so before gluing.

  10. #10
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    I also built this chair based upon the Wood Magazine plan. I went with the three 3/8" laminated arms and experienced a little more springbuck than desired; enough that I ended up fastening the back portion of the arms with a screw through the top into the side real and covered with a flush plug.

  11. #11
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    For those worried about fitting the arms, make the arms first and then measure and cut the components that intersect with the arms to suit ACTUAL measurements, rather than the stated dimensions on a plan. This is the only way to insure an accurate fit when you have a component that might have some variability because of how you need to construct it. In this case, and as folks have mentioned, a bent lamination will have more or less spring-back depending on the wood, the glue the atmospheric conditions and probably the phase of the moon... . Plans are a guide. They are never going to be absolutely perfect for any project when something like wood is involved.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    I always use .125" material and laminate using West Epoxy. I find that gives me almost zero spring back and allows me to build to spec (usually a necessity with millwork).

  13. #13
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    Had no idea what a Morris chair was. I did a google search and found abundant images.

    Sure looks like the radius of the curve is NOT large. My impression was the radius could be 10 feet!

    if so, wouldn’t 3/8 inch laminations work fine?

    I mean, it is not like the question relates to bending hoops.

    Just my uneducated impression...

    Bill
    Too much to do...Not enough time...life is too short!

  14. #14
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    Jim brings up a good point. If I make another, and I most likely will, I would fit the arms to the side assemblies much differently than I did. I would take the completed arms and make templates off the bottoms. I would dry fit the side assembly and transfer the curve onto it, disassemble it and cut the pieces to fit at the bandsaw, including the tops of the legs. From there, I would fit the arms in place and using a mortising template, plunge rout through the arm into the top of the leg, Square it up, make a square loose tenon and glue it place. Better fit and easier than trying to transfer an existing tenon through the arm.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Simon View Post
    Jim brings up a good point. If I make another, and I most likely will, I would fit the arms to the side assemblies much differently than I did. I would take the completed arms and make templates off the bottoms. I would dry fit the side assembly and transfer the curve onto it, disassemble it and cut the pieces to fit at the bandsaw, including the tops of the legs. From there, I would fit the arms in place and using a mortising template, plunge rout through the arm into the top of the leg, Square it up, make a square loose tenon and glue it place. Better fit and easier than trying to transfer an existing tenon through the arm.
    +1 on this - except I just tranferred the arm profile to the glued up side then followed it on the bandsaw and cleaned it up on the horizontal belt sander until the profile matched. I then made a small mortise for the entire top edge to recess into, this hides any gap (probably not anything needed and not sure why I chose to do it). Then I put counter bores on the underside of the top rail, and sank some screws pulling the arm tight against the top rail (I did not want the through tenon, but agree with Mick on approach if you do want it).

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