For several years I used CompWood for furniture parts that needed to be bent precisely. It’s a wood that has been compressed in its length under heat and with moisture. When the wood cools, it can be bent cold. No steambox. And I have yet to encounter wood failure with the stuff.
The only downside? It’s expensive compared to cutting down a tree, riving out the stock and bending it green.
A few years ago, the site where I bought the stuff closed down. It’s now available again (perhaps from the same operator) at Pure Timber.
I purchased a chunk of red oak from Pure Timber to test it out and make sure it was just as good as the stuff I used years ago. Today I bent an armbow for a chair I’m making for a customer as an experiment. The armbow isn’t a particularly difficult bend with really green wood, but you do need a bending strap, a steambox and an assistant.
With the cold-bend hardwood, you don’t need any of those things. I was able to bend the armbow by myself using arm pressure and regular F-clamps. Now it needs to dry (I’m going to gin up a basic kiln as per the instructions at Pure Timber).
I am greatly encouraged by the experiment today. I have a special project in my design notebook that would be much easier with cold-bend hardwood. Unless something goes to pot with this armbow, I think I’m going to be able to take on this important personal project.
— Christopher Schwarz
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