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Thread: Bending wood.

  1. #1

    Bending wood.

    Got a question for the more wise and experienced amung us...

    The other night a fellow and I were enjoying a rare evening outside, discussing world problems, etc. He told me of a remodel problem where he had curved walls on his houseboat. He said he went to Barnes & Nobel and found a book on bending wood, he e-mailed the arthur and got a reply wih a solution to his problem. (I thought this was a grand jesture)

    Now, I have steamed, boiled and laminated to curve wood but this fellow had a simple solution to his task. Windex... Yes, the window cleaner. The fellow told him to spray a wet coat to both sides of the strip of wood, then screw the strip to the conture, not all the way but in gradual bends. allow to sit for a bit, then sparay again with the Windex, tightening a little more, then soak again in Windex and again tighten the screws, and again more Windex and tightening untill the curviture is obtained. After it dries in a few days, plug the screw holes and sand & finish, etc.

    My question is, have any of you heard of this Windex procedure?

    My next move is to obtain the arthur's name and sneak a peek at that book.

    And if you have heard of this procedure or have been successful doing it, then why haven't you told anybody?
    Last edited by Bill Simpson; 08-24-2010 at 09:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Never heard of that, but now I've gotta try it!

    Let me know if/when you find out the author and the name of the book, please.
    Jim D.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    how thick of wood are you bending bill? , i too never heard of it but maybe the alcohol or the other substance in windex makes it bend easier???
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    I've heard of using ammonia to bend balsa wood, but that's about it. I reckon it'd have to be pretty thin wood to do that.

    And very interesting timing...

    In our boat that I'm trying to get readied up to use again, we have a bunch of 1/4 ply panels that cover hatches and are used as seats. Apparently enough moisture had worked it's way into the boat that some of these about 2.5'x1.5' panels are bent like potato chips...

    I'll have to give the windex a try and see if it works to get them flat...
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    the guy who said use windex wasnt the same guy that played the father in the movie "my big fat greek wedding", was he?

    alot of people put kerf cuts on the back of panels to go along with curves in on walls. I dont know if this would work on hardwoods.
    Last edited by allen levine; 08-24-2010 at 10:48 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Shorewood, WI
    I have heard of ammonia under pressure as a way to soften up wood for bending, as a procedure only available as a large industrial process. If the wood is thin enough, ammonia may soak in well enough without heat or pressure. I'd expect that more concentrated ammonia would be better than windex though.

    You can read about ammonia plasticizing wood in chapter 19 of the Forest Products Laboratory Wood Handbook. When they mention "liquid ammonia" what they are talking about is very different from the solution of ammonia gas in water that most are familiar with. The handbook is available free online: just google the title. It has pretty much everything that's in Hoadley's "Understanding Wood".

  7. #7
    I also too did some research via Google. Seems You can find mention of Windex with Ammonia and bending. Also whilst I was in school in the 60s a fellow student did research on using Anhydrous Ammonia liquified, to soften wood to the point where we tied it in knots. Used Veneers and made bow ties, You could stamp designs in the surface, etc. But the process was too expensive and dangerous for practical use.

    Will get with the fellow and find out the Book he was referring to. I am just as courious. Have no bending plans but would be nice to have the info should a situation arise.

  8. #8
    I have seen the Windex method at a county fair here. It does work, supposedly. But what the presenter showed us was the method, and the pieces, in various stages. The only point that I remember, was someone asked him how long to leave the piece in the rig before you unscrew it and increase the bend. He said "As long as it takes". I left at that point.

    He was bending a piece of pine about 1x2.

    I did find this on another site.

    "Ask any furniture maker or restorer what he uses to bend wood and he will tell you water/steam/heat. Not ammonia. Where this came from is a mystery, but I have heard it for almost 70 years now. If you want to bend the wood, soak it in hot water, and then steam it or heat it in the microwave.

    All the ammonia will do is clear your sinuses."

    This site discusses model making, not furniture making.

    P.S.....thanks for the help on the Bed

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