Strip Laminate Bending
At one time or another, you may have avoided making a project with curved components, simply because you didn't know how to go about bending the wood. Perhaps you wanted to create some curved legs for a table or a curved arm for a chair. Strip laminating gives you a simple, down-to-earth way to form curves in wood...without belching steamers, toxic chemicals or Rube-Goldberg-looking apparatuses.
Actually, strip laminate bending is nothing more than ripping or resawing thick stock into thin strips, then reassembling them into the shape you want. In other words...turning straight wood into curved wood. It's a process that not only throws wide the doors to your project design capabilities...but also creates projects that are far stronger and more durable than those crafted by cutting curved pieces from solid stock.
Step 1: Getting Started
Step 2: Designing
With a Single-Piece Form, clamps are used to hold the laminated strips tightly against the curved form (See Fig. 1).
With a Positive/Negative Form, the laminated strips are sandwiched between two mating forms, which are then clamped together.
As you can see in Figure 1, when using a Single-Piece Form, it's best to position your clamps with their bars on the outside edge of the curve to keep the clamps from interfering with one another.
Figure 2 clearly shows how a Positive/Negative Form requires fewer clamps and spreads the clamping pressure more evenly. However, it will require more time to make.
Step 3: Fabricating
For smaller forms, glue and nail the layers of particleboard or plywood together, then trace your curved design onto the top layer and use your Bandsaw to cut out the form. Use your Disc Sander and Drum Sanders to obtain your final contours.
Tip: The up-down motion of Shopsmith's Oscillating Drum Sander Attachment will help you achieve greatly improved results when sanding forms that are 3" or more wide.