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Thread: Steam bending or laminating stripes, when, how and why?

  1. #1
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    Steam bending or laminating stripes, when, how and why?

    Yesterday’s night I couldn’t sleep so I got up and started sketching and I came up with a design of a small double deck table ( sort of) for the entrance of a flat/house. You know, the one you leave the keys and the mail on.

    I can foresee that if I make it it will problably involve either one of those techniques or maybe both.

    Being a complete ignorant about both, here go my questions:

    How to decide which one to use, why and where? Does it depend on the type of wood used? On the difficulty of the bending? On both and something else that I don’t mention because I don’t know?

    Has any of you had a go on those and what where your results??

    Any input will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
    Best regards,
    Toni

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    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  2. #2
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    toni,
    i bend stuff all the time and very rarely use steam for a couple of reasons;
    1) steaming takes longer than strip laminating for me
    2) with strip laminations i have very little if any springback

    edge grain is an issue with strip laminations, the strips do show unless you veneer over the edge or cut a profile to hide the laminations.
    the major deciding factor for me is springback. a steam bent piece that is not restrained after bending will try to return to somewhere near its original shape, if you bend a piece into a "u" let it cool and remove it form the form and leave it unrestrained it will turn into a shape somewhere between a "u" and an"L"....where this movement stops (if it ever does?) depends on the board and the enviornment....if you where to split wood staves from the same oak tree and steam them the same amount of time under ideal conditions, place them in identical forms, dry them in the same room then turn them loose each would behave somewhat differently...
    whereas if you take kiln dried oak and cut 1/8" laminations and glue them around a form even with pva glue and set them side by side they will remain very similar if not identical,(it depends on the radius of the bend and number of laminations).....the more glue you introduce into a bend the more stable that bend becomes....
    hope this helps? tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
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    I've only done the laminating so cant really comment on the steam. Ditto here with springback being pretty non-existent. One other thing I've seen done with laminating that I'd like to try someday is using 1 or 2 thin strips of a contrasting wood in the lamination. I've seen pics of some items somewhere and it was a pretty nice looking effect.
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  4. #4
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    Hi Tod.

    Thanks for your input. Besides that I think that taking the hassle of building a steam box only for one piece would be too time consuming, and I would have to build the jigs and molds as well, while using strips only the molds and jigs are needed.

    Only a couple of more questions if I may.

    I presume that the thickness of the strips depends on the flexibility of the wood plus the radius of the bend to be achieved, but is there any sort of recipee such as for a radius of xx thickness aa or let's say an allterrain, mostly used thickness?

    And second, do you plan or sand to a smooth finish the strips before laminating them??
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Shepard View Post
    I've only done the laminating so cant really comment on the steam. Ditto here with springback being pretty non-existent.
    Thanks Dough.

    Did you bent the pieces to a tight curve or only soft ones.
    Could you post a pic if you have it??

    Thanks
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toni Ciuraneta View Post

    Only a couple of more questions if I may.

    I presume that the thickness of the strips depends on the flexibility of the wood plus the radius of the bend to be achieved, but is there any sort of recipee such as for a radius of xx thickness aa or let's say an allterrain, mostly used thickness?
    And second, do you plan or sand to a smooth finish the strips before laminating them??
    toni,
    as to thickness.....it all depends on the radius and type of wood as well as the number of laminations.....as a general rule if you can`t push the laminations to the form with moderate hand pressure go thinner.
    as to sanding........the only time i sand is if i`m scared that the thickness planer might blow up a thin lamination(i go to 1/8" regularly)....if you have the ability to thickness sand accurately ie; widebelt, then go no finer than 60 grit so as to give the glue some "tooth"........for most laminations i go right from the planer to glue-up.
    tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  7. #7
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    If the strips are relatively small (a meter or less) I'll hand feed on a bandsaw (any larger and I have to deal with the inevitable speed bumps and irregularities of having to stop and change hand position), and so for larger pieces, and/or alot of them -- I will hook up my power feeder to the bandsaw. In either case, the consistency is terriffic so no need for sander or planer, and when using a carbide blade, the fuzz left behind after the cut is perfect for glue. See below:



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  8. #8
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    I've done some gentler curves too, but dont have pictures of those. This one had a mixture of curve sizes, most of them pretty tight. I did what Tod suggested and tried different thicknesses on the various curves until I found what seemed to work for the radii. I ended up using 1/16" on the tight ones for the lower gridwork shelf and 1/8" for the apron and the thicker lower stretcher. I used male and female forms but if I had to do it again, I'd also add some sort of alignment runners on the forms to draw them together straight when clamping. Having the male and female form, plus the glue covered laminate all trying to slide around while you get it clamped is a bit daunting. I dont have any pics of the forms but made them out of MDF and put a facing of plastic laminate on them so glue wouldn't stick.
    Attachment 11846
    (The white junk on the bottom of the front leg is just some wierd reflections from the floor)
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  9. #9
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    I forgot about another technique. Luthiers use heat a lot (a hot pipe, heat blanket & controller, etc) to get incredibly tight bends for musical instruments. I think if you needed something really tight you could use one of those methods to pre-bend the pieces before applying glue to laminate them.
    --------------------------------------------
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  10. #10
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    Hi Dough.

    Thanks for posting the pic of your small table, I like it a lot, the concentric rings on the lower deck are a great eyecatching detail, I bet they took you quite a while to make.

    Is the central top part some sort of marble or leather?? and the black dots on the leg joint are they wooden pegs or just plugs to cover a hidden screw?

    Wonderful job!
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

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