Video: Bending the Wiggle Wood, Solo - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Video: Bending the Wiggle Wood, Solo

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Raw Materials, Woodworking Blogs

After not burning down the city with my lightbulb-in-a-box scheme, my first CompWood armbow dropped to 8 percent moisture content overnight. I removed it from its form and put one clamp on it across the ends – with a 2×4 between.

Then I resolved to bend my second armbow by myself. So I modified the bending form a bit. I trimmed the form’s platform so it was close to the size of the bow. Then I bored some 2-1/2″-diameter holes in the form so I could clamp the armbow with cheap F-style clamps. I’ve used this strategy with cold laminations with great success.

Then I went to work. This armbow is 1″ thick and 1-3/8″ wide. When I have bent armbows this wide using steam it is like wrestling a bear and usually takes two people. So I’m happy that I could pull this off by myself. The above video condenses the entire bending process, which was 10:08.

The lightbulb kiln worked great, but there is always that risk of fire. And I wonder if I can dry the wood faster. Tonight I’ll hotwire our three-phase power and run 660 volts through the wood and see what happens </snark>.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 13 comments
  • Russ

    I think I’ve seen norm use the pin and wedge method before. It looks like a ratchet strap could have helped with the last part of the clamping process that you used.

  • Christopher – While I struggled somewhat more than you in making a large bent lam, it was useful to see that I had guessed a good way to go about it. Now I need to find some use for the lams…
    Charlie Pitts

  • Christopher Schwarz


    That is a piece of incidental music from That song is called “Remember the Factories” and is by Steve Glotzer. You can get that song for free and more of his work at that site.

  • Joe Anderson

    Very nice music, who is it and whats the tune?

    Joe Anderson

  • Nick Webb

    All I’m getting is a black box where I guess a video should be – again. Why won’t you let us at least download your videos so they can be seen in a third party app, seeing that the embedded method is flaky.

  • Mark Briley

    Wow – you get to do this stuff at work? I should have applied for Drew’s old position.

  • matt

    I’m curious, how much spring back did the first armbow have once you got it down to 8%? Does this wood keep it’s shape better or worse than a comparably steam bent piece?


  • Steve

    I’m curious what the Pure Timber/Fluted Beams/whatever-their-name-really-is people have to say about your drying experience. Clearly, a piece of ordinary 1" x 1-3/8" wood isn’t going to dry from 20% MC to 8% MC in a day or two, even in an Easy-Bake/firetrap homemade kiln.

    So what’s really going on with this stuff? You can get somewhat similar anomalous moisture measurements on a piece of wood that’s been steamed, but in that case, it’s because all of the moisture is in a very thin outer layer of the piece–the heat penetrates deeply into the wood, but the steam itself does not. I don’t think that’s the case here.

    [On a mostly unrelated note, look at the links at the very bottom of this page: – strange, to say the least.]

  • Marty

    I can attest to the light bulb kiln working just fine, I use one often. Usually build out of plywood or insulation board.

    When bending steam bent green wood (or I assume the Comp wood)around a form try a wooden pin and a wedge instead of all the clamps. It makes the job a lot easier. Just one pin at top center and one on each end of the piece. Then drive a wooden wedge between pin and the wood to tighten it up. Put in the top pin and wedge it in place, then bend one side, pin and wedge then go to the other. You looked like you were really working to get it bent, held and clamped.

  • Gary

    Drew Langsner uses one of those small square space heaters in his kiln. It works great; has a thermastat, and shouldn’t burn down the house as easily as light bulb.


  • Mark

    For the fire risk:

    You know those probe kitchen thermometers? The ones on the wire, where you put the thermometer in the hunk of meat, and then have the control box on the outside of the oven? Put one of those in the kiln, and then set the temp alarm to whatever you think would be prudent/ideal for the kiln drying. And if the light bulb seems to start making things a bit too hot, just open up a hole on top to let some of the heat out. Worked for me.


  • Christopher Schwarz

    I did the bend on the cart so the camera could see it. We do lots of dumb things for readers/viewers.

  • Jorge G

    Hmmmm….LOL…ok, I have lost count of how many benches you have built in the past 2 years, you have a nice one right behind you full of junk, and you decide to wrestle with the wood bending on one which looks like it has wheels and moves if a light breeze hits it…

    Glad to see even the experts do dumb things like this too. 🙂

    PS, yeah that compressed wood is nice, I wanted some but they only sell $1500 outside the US.. bummer 🙁

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