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Thread: How to bend wood like this - Outdoor furniture project

  1. #1
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    How to bend wood like this - Outdoor furniture project

    Looking for a new project to do. I've been spending a few months upgrading the workshop / fixing minor annoyances, and really need to actually build something.

    I ran across this in a magazine ad.

    Outdoor Chair Idea.jpg

    The furniture is supposedly solid teak, though I don't think that will be in the cards for mine.

    These are serious bends in the backs of the chairs and couch. I didn't think teak was bendable like that.

    So my question is how can I build something like this?
    I'm not terrible fond of steam bending, as in my previous projects springback has been inconsistent.
    Bend laminations is possible, though hiding it on a veneer top with the top curved also seems difficult.

    So what's the best way to do this?
    And, of course, wood choice - it has to live in brutal Florida weather. The area is covered, but it does get afternoon sun. I've built outdoor furniture for here before, but the though of refinishing in a few years always makes me cringe. Since I don't see small slats here on the design, I think in a few years that would be easier than, for example, my Titanic deck chair which is a refinishing nightmare.
    - After I ask a stranger if I can pet their dog and they say yes, I like to respond, "I'll keep that in mind" and walk off
    - It's above my pay grade. Mongo only pawn in game of life.

  2. #2
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    It is probably done by gluing up thin layers of wood, similar to plywood, but with the grain all running parallel.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA '71
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  3. #3
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    What Lee said. If you look closely at the left chair you can see that the out layer is not a single piece. It's veneer that has been seamed. That supports Lee's hypothesis that it was as a glued up laminate. One could still argue that it's solid wood.

    You don't need to hide the layers where they show at the top, but if you want to, you could make pieces maybe 3/4" think and cut them to fit between the outer plies of veneer when you bend them into the form. Use three pieces for a more continuous grain, just like is done when building a chair with solid wood.

    In any case, use quality epoxy and they will last a long, long time.

    As for refinishing, I've said this before, the only way to avoid it is to never finish or to cover the furniture when not in use. I cover mine and haven't done any maintenance to the Epifanes varnish in more than 5 years. Before that, it was every year or two.

    John

  4. #4
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    To bend solid oak like that you require a serious bending press ...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_cy...ngelsCoachShop

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    What Lee said. If you look closely at the left chair you can see that the out layer is not a single piece. It's veneer that has been seamed. That supports Lee's hypothesis that it was as a glued up laminate. One could still argue that it's solid wood.

    You don't need to hide the layers where they show at the top, but if you want to, you could make pieces maybe 3/4" think and cut them to fit between the outer plies of veneer when you bend them into the form. Use three pieces for a more continuous grain, just like is done when building a chair with solid wood.

    In any case, use quality epoxy and they will last a long, long time.

    As for refinishing, I've said this before, the only way to avoid it is to never finish or to cover the furniture when not in use. I cover mine and haven't done any maintenance to the Epifanes varnish in more than 5 years. Before that, it was every year or two.

    John
    Ah, hadn't seen the seam on the left chair/couch. That also might have been done to decrease the length of the board needed to make that couch.

    I don't see a seam on the chair in the middle.

    I thought this had to be bent lamination, but they seem to have done a very good job at the veneer seams on the top of the arms.

    Not sure if I understand the 3/4" thick wood use.
    - After I ask a stranger if I can pet their dog and they say yes, I like to respond, "I'll keep that in mind" and walk off
    - It's above my pay grade. Mongo only pawn in game of life.

  6. #6
    One of my earlier posts on curved work: should give you some idea of how it is done.
    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....t=#post3290471

  7. #7
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    Watch Darren Oatts on the 'Tube for the bending techniques.
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  8. #8
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    There's another way to build the curved shape, and it does not involve bending the wood. You bricklay the rough shape, and then bandsaw it to the final shape. With no bending involved, the construction is easier, and the glue lines have no stress on them.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    There's another way to build the curved shape, and it does not involve bending the wood. You bricklay the rough shape, and then bandsaw it to the final shape. With no bending involved, the construction is easier, and the glue lines have no stress on them.
    True, although in the designs that OP shows in the photo that would not provide as clean a look to the furniture components because the glue lines will become a pattern as you build up layers. Those components are, my guess, 6-8" tall. Now an interesting option here would be to build the "core" of the components like you state and then bend a "thick veneer" around them, inside and out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    There's another way to build the curved shape, and it does not involve bending the wood. You bricklay the rough shape, and then bandsaw it to the final shape. With no bending involved, the construction is easier, and the glue lines have no stress on them.
    That's really interesting, Jamie. Never heard of that. Any Youtube videos on that, or threads here.
    - After I ask a stranger if I can pet their dog and they say yes, I like to respond, "I'll keep that in mind" and walk off
    - It's above my pay grade. Mongo only pawn in game of life.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Watch Darren Oatts on the 'Tube for the bending techniques.
    Funny, a quick search for "Darren Oatts" on YouTube gives you lots of Hall and Oates videos.
    - After I ask a stranger if I can pet their dog and they say yes, I like to respond, "I'll keep that in mind" and walk off
    - It's above my pay grade. Mongo only pawn in game of life.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Lightstone View Post
    Funny, a quick search for "Darren Oatts" on YouTube gives you lots of Hall and Oates videos.
    LOL I fat-fingered the spelling

    https://www.youtube.com/@darrenoatesfinefurniture3648
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Thanks, Jim. LOL.

    Very impressive setup for steam bending wood. Best I've ever seen.

    Now next question then. What are good outdoor woods that are also good for steam bending?
    And how in the world to get springback to stay the same in each piece. Leave them bent in the form for a long time?
    - After I ask a stranger if I can pet their dog and they say yes, I like to respond, "I'll keep that in mind" and walk off
    - It's above my pay grade. Mongo only pawn in game of life.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    There's another way to build the curved shape, and it does not involve bending the wood. You bricklay the rough shape, and then bandsaw it to the final shape. With no bending involved, the construction is easier, and the glue lines have no stress on them.
    This is how I have done it before. Bandsaw and CNC both work and it looks quite nice IMHO and is wicked strong. I'm actually working on a table soon that will utilize this technique again.

    In Alan's original picture there is at least one seam on the sofa so I'm not sure if this is a similar trick with half-rounds or if it's a veneer of sorts.

  15. #15
    I see the seam in the wood on the side of the couch, but not the top. And with the seam occurring deep in the bend, and appearing to be a butt joint, my guess is that we're looking at veneers. So it's probably the bricklayed wood method, or something similar, and then veneered over the sides.

    You could also try to make a bunch of kerf cut on the inside of the bend. I've seen people make some pretty complex shapes like that. But you wouldn't get the strength of the bricklayed method, but it might still be strong enough. You would, however, not have to use veneers. And you could call it solid wood, if that matters. You might still have to steam it to get it to bend that much, and might need to use green wood, depending on the species, which can cause a whole bunch of other issues.

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