How to Bend Plywood?

Being made from wood material, plywood is created as a flat board. They are cut and then joined to use as decoration pieces. In some situations, you need to bend the plywood and shape it to fill the empty spaces.

You can use plywood bend to make decorative cupboards or chair legs. But, how to bend plywood? It isn’t that simple as it sounds. It involves different techniques to bend the plywood. Today, we will examine the four techniques to effectively bend the plywood in this article.


Tools Required to Bend the Plywood

You need some essential tools while working on any woodworking project. These include:

  • Sandpaper: For final touches
  • Sander: Finishing the edges
  • Polyurethane glue: Laminating the bend with long setting glue
  • Bar Clamps: Securing the plywood around the form
  • Heavy Gloves: Protecting your hands from hot plywood scolding and steam
  • Steam Box: Steaming bend
  • Band Saw/Jigsaw: Cutting the long strips
  • MDF: Creating template and form for the bends
  • Wood Glue: For Kerf bend
  • Straight edge or Large square: Ensuring straight cuts
  • Circular Saw: Used for Kerf bend method
  • Plywood: Selecting your choice of plywood for bends. Finnish birch is the most used plywood for bends
  • Pencil: Marking cuts and other things

How to Bend Plywood? Four Techniques Explained

If you want to know how to bend plywood, you have come to the right place. Below, you will find four techniques explained to bend the plywood in the simplest manner possible.

1.    Kerf Method

Kerf Method is among the easiest and fastest ways to bend plywood. The method incorporates cutting grooves or notches on any of your desired corners. You will get a smoother curve with narrower cuts.

Follow the steps below to bend plywood using the Kerf method:

  • The first step is cutting the length of thick plywood to bend in your required dimensions.
  • With a pencil and ruler, you can mark the area where you need the bend. The markings work as a guide when you saw notches known as kerfs.
  • Make sure to check if there are knots in your plywood. The bend will wear down soon if there are knots in the plywood.
  • Set your circular saw to one-third or one-half of your plywood depth.
  • The straight edge will help in cutting the groove along with the cornering marks at a 6 mm distance.
  • Using the wood glue, you should fill the grooves or kerf that you just cut. You can also use PVA, but slow setting glue provides utmost strength and bonding.
  • Use clamps to secure the corner after bending. Now, leave the plywood for at least six hours.
  • You can use the bend for application after the glue has been appropriately set.

2.    Laminating Method

Bends from laminating curves are exceptionally strong as they are made by joining two to three layers of plywood. The layers are glued together to produce a reliable and durable corner.

To bend plywood using Laminating method, you need to follow the steps below:

  • Use 5.2mm of the thin plywood sheet. Cut multiple layers of MDF to achieve the right bend thickness. This way, you will create a template to follow when you have to bend the plywood.
  • Precondition and stack the pieces together to clamp them to your form. You should not glue them at this stage.
  • Place the first clamp in the middle of the corner and then move outwards while attaching the clamp.
  • Keep placing the clamps till you don’t find any space between the form and plywood.
  • Mark the position of clamps with a pencil that will help you later.
  • Now, remove the clamp and put the strips on butcher paper or cloth to glue them together.
  • Using Polyurethane glue, stick the strips together. After that, repeat the entire process of clamping the form and the plywood.
  • After clamping, leave the set aside for the glue to dry. Once the glue is set, detach the plywood from the form and remove excess adhesive with a belt sander’s help.
  • Using an orbital sander, you can give a nice finishing touch to the edges. That’s it about laminating method.

3.    Steaming Method

Bending plywood using steam makes a dependable and robust bend. The bend follows the wood’s grain, eliminating any weakness occurring due to band sawn curve.

For all the bending methods, you should always choose plywood that is free from knots.

  • Create your desired form by cutting multiple layers of plywood until you achieve the desired thickness.
  • Prepare the steaming box to use.
  • After that, position the plywood over the steam box that has support of the fixed wires.
  • Now, steam the plywood for at least one hour for each 24mm thick plywood.
  • Wear heavy-duty gloves to remove the plywood and bend it immediately over the form and secure it with clamps.
  • Leave it for 2-3 hours, and when it has completely dried, unsecure the clamp, and you have your bend ready for applications.

4.    Soaking

The last method is suitable for smaller works, but the soaking method requires a huge water tank to bend the plywood.

  • Cut your desired strip of plywood and submerge it in a tank that can accommodate your plywood completely.
  • Let it soak in water for two hours to soften. While it is submerged, you can create your form using the MDF method.
  • After two-three hours, remove the plywood and bend it along the grain. Now, clamp the plywood with form until no space is left.
  • Leave the plywood clamped for several hours to dry. Once the plywood is dried, remove the clamp, and you will have your perfect bent plywood.

Things to Consider While Bending Plywood

Now you know how to bend plywood, but you should take care of few things while bending plywood.

  • Plywood won’t dry quickly, so you should always secure it with some material in the first week.
  • After bending, if you join many thin plywoods together, you will get thick plywood.
  • The plywood should not be extremely cold or hot while bending.
  • Keep plywood in a moisture-free environment where humidity is below ten per cent.

Final Thoughts

Plywood is among the most used material in buildings today. That is why plywood has to go through several operations to become useful in multiple areas. You can use bend plywood in many products, such as wooden hangers, plywood chairs, or chandeliers.

Now you know four methods of how to bend plywood. So, go to your workshop and decorate your home with bent plywood.

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