rare wood bending joint goes viral

My first time bending wood

To make this odd wood joint I had to bend a small strip of wood. And I confess that this is the first time I have bent wood. I didn’t get the best result, but it was an interesting practice.

What I don’t understand at all is that the video that I show in this post has reached 2.6 million views on my YouTube channel. I’m going to have to dedicate my videos to making weird stuff like this 😀

How to draw the wooden template

To make this sort of wood joint, almost as odd as my impossible dovetail joint, I first have to draw the paper template with the shape that I will then have to cut off the wood strip.

This involves drawing two parallel lines with a separation equal to the width of the wood strip that I am going to cut. I draw a vertical line, and with the compass I draw an arc with a radius a few millimeters shorter than the distance between the parallel lines. And I cut out the paper shape. That will be the template whose shape I have to transfer to the wooden strip.

Watch here how I make some plywood templates to make some nice garden chairs.

How to transfer the drawing to the wooden strip

Now I have to transfer the drawing to the wood strip. The problem is that this is a bit more complicated than just putting the paper template on the wood and drawing it.

The part of transferring the template to the wood strip is easy. But now I have to carefully spin the curve of the paper against the edge of the wood strip to find where the straight side of the drawing goes. The paper bends a lot and makes it difficult to spin it against the wooden edge, so I think it’s better to make the template out of cardboard.

Another option is to measure the radius of the curve I drew on the paper. And I use the formula of the circle divided by four to calculate the length of that curve. I transfer this measurement to the edge of the wood strip, and then I can trace the vertical line of the drawing.

I draw the strip of wood that I will have to bend. And I already have the complete drawing. What I mark in stripes with the pen is the part of the wood that I have to remove.

Removing the wood with a table jigsaw

Here it was a matter of removing as much wood as possible with the help of my table jigsaw. Also, this saw allows me to make pretty clean and precise cuts, so it’s perfect for straight cutting. And also for curve cutting, since it is not a very sharp curve and I was able to cut it without any major problem.

To cut the bottom of the hole parallel to the side of this wood strip I have to take into account that the curve line and the line that marks the bottom of the hole, both lines end making a very small angle. If I try to put the cutting blade of the jigsaw in that narrow area, it will not have the sharp angle shown in the drawing.

That’s why first, with a couple of curved cuts, I remove as much wood as I can. But without putting the cutting blade into the narrow area. And I make a straight and precise cut following the line that marks the bottom of the hole, but without entering the narrow area.

retouching the cut with the hand fret saw

So, now I can use the hand-held fret saw with its very fine blade (its fret saw hair) to finish cutting the very sharp angle.

Bending the wood and making the curved joint

And finally I’m going to bend this piece of wood to make this curious joint.

Since this is just a test to see how this wood bending thing goes by wetting and heating the wood, my workpiece is not very long and so I can put it in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. My cat Selma doesn’t understand why I’m going to cook something that I’m not going to eat, but as long as she has food in her dish and gets a million cuddles she doesn’t complain too much.

I don’t know how long I had the wood in the boiling water. Between 5 and 10 minutes each time (although we will see that I needed to do this several times). And I used a metal clamp to put weight on it so the wood wouldn’t float.

After heating and wetting the wood for the first time it is reluctant to bend much, so I put the piece back in the pot of boiling water.

Little by little, using a woodworking clamp to force the strip of wood to bend along the curve, I shaped the wood. I use one of those cheap clamps that I upgraded with some plywood strips so they don’t leave marks on the wood and so that also help to hold and press better. But there, in one of the pictures, we can see that the curve stumbles against the 90-degree cut.

trim the straight side with precision

It is not a major problem. You already know that I repeat quite often that my table jigsaw can make very precise cuts. We can see in the picture how I can adjust that side of the hole by trimming something like half the thickness of the cutting blade . A clean and precise cut 🙂 .

Yes, guess what!. Again the wood into the boiling water. As soon as it cools down the wood loses flexibility. But now I was finally able to bend it and keep it bent with the help of a metal woodworking clamp.

By allowing it to cool while bent and pressed with the clamp I think that the wood will retain its shape long enough to open the joint, glue it and press it again with the clamp while the glue dries. Here the detail is that I used outdoor glue for wood, since the wood will be wet for a while and so I thought that a normal glue would not work well in those conditions.

When the wood glue is dry, I use a little wood paste to fill the gaps and imperfections and then I sand all the surfaces well. Because yes, there were many imperfections and gaps.

bending wood with boiling water

Once sanded and varnished, the result is a very curious piece of wood. And it even looks like a fine woodworking job, but I can tell you it’s thanks to the wood paste, sanding and varnish. What is not clear to me is whether it is correct to say that this is a wood joint.

I’m glad because this was my first time bending wood (and the video went somewhat viral 🙂 ) and could learn a few things. The main thing is that it is very clear to me that wood bending is a task for which we need experience, good equipment to be able to heat and moisten the wood properly and a lot of patience.

At least I took into account the grain direction of the wood and looked for a piece with the grain parallel to the edge of the strip so that layers of grain would not be separated from each other. Also the strip of wood to be bent is very thin, but it still resisted a lot to be bent and in some areas it was starting to break.

This was definitely a very interesting practice.

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