Bending wood (Plywood 101, part 2)

This is the second post in our series on lamination. For the first post, go here.

In the past year or so, we have been playing around with more curved forms. For years all of our curves have been cut from solid wood stock. Seldom have we ever bent wood, and certainly not on a production level.

With the introduction of the Linnaea collection, this has all changed. The entire line has various curves, and some bending needs to occur. One of the more challenging things was the seat on the Linnaea Chair. We wanted a curved seat, but not of solid wood. Greg, our Founder and lead chair maker, came up with a two piece bendable plywood seat that follows the curve of the brace below it. It really is the perfect solution for this application. It is both comfortable and good looking.

What is bendable plywood? It is laminated ply that is not cross laminated. The layers of ply are all oriented in the same direction, making it easy to bend either across the grain or with the grain. This is basically a one directional bend. People have said this is not good for structural use, but once we have glued up two layers on each other into a curve, it is pretty much solid as a rock. One brand name for this is Wiggle Wood.

Another kind of bendable stock a kerf-cut type, where you can buy plywood that has been cut 80% of the way through on the back side at 1/8” increments. This allows you to do pretty tight radii, but there is no real structure to the stock, even after gluing. Assorted brand names and various styles are: Econokore, Flex Green, Kerfkore, and Timberflex.

In our third post in this series, we’ll discuss how we do curved bends and laminations using only solid wood.

3 thoughts on “Bending wood (Plywood 101, part 2)

  1. Do you recall who gave you the picture of a chair that looks like this? I have found a better copy & could email it. The one I gave you was made by Sibau in Italy. This company went out of business & sold some designs to others. Probably not the chair. Also worldwide many furniture designs are or have the linea name. This has a resemblance also to one of the Moller designs. (O.D. Moller or J.M. Moller?)

  2. Ron,

    That’s very interesting. I don’t really know very much more about the chair than how we built ours. As far as other similar styles throughout history, if you can shed any light, that would be lovely.

    Alison

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