Bend plywood


When DIY or hobbyists are bent on bending different materials, plywood occupies one of the top ranks. This is not surprising, since the material has many advantages that facilitate this project. Therefore, we have put together some tips and information about bending plywood for you.

Bending wood in general

Conventional solid wood can be bent relatively well with steam, but requires a great deal of experience. Because each piece of solid wood differs greatly from wood of the same type of wood. Slightly easier is the bending of plywood. There are even different materials that can be used instead of plywood.

  • plywood
  • Bending plywood
  • MDF flexures

Plywood is easier to bend than wood

Basically, the techniques to bend plywood are highly related to those used to bending solid or glued wood. This means that the most important ingredients you need are water vapor or moisture and a bending aid.

Disadvantages of plywood bending

Plywood, however, is extremely dry. Normally, very dry wood can not bend. This is different with thin plywood. For very thin plywood panels, it may even be enough to just soak the plywood panels in water well enough. Of course, however, softening in hot steam is clearly preferable.

Turn steam to plywood

The steam must reach a temperature of 100 degrees, in addition, no pressure may build up. For smaller plywood boards you can therefore easily build a steam tank. In addition, you also need straps and possibly a negative mold or the fitting on which the curved plywood is to be glued.

Because even plywood tends to bend after unchecked even after drying. Therefore bent plywood parts are often already glued to corresponding elements during bending - especially if the plywood was glued without steam.

The Thonet principle

Preferably you have a negative mold. Then a bending band or a bending plate (also in the corresponding bend) made of metal should be placed on the outside of the plywood. Then the plywood is then bent and then fixed with the straps. This approach is consistent with the almost 200-year-old and still current Thonet principle.

Bend more effectively according to the Thonet principle

The bending belt or the bending plate absorbs a part of the forces that would otherwise act on the outside of the plywood. Thus, the plywood is more flexible than conventional and tears later. However, you must always keep in mind that even flexible plywood is only flexible to a certain degree.

Alternatives to plywood

Depending on the application, you can also use the already mentioned and especially thin MDF boards, as well as special bending plywood. As a rule, these materials can be deformed without water or water vapor; for this, they must be fixed to the corresponding negative counterparts while bending. Of course, these types of plywood must be fixed with a strap until the adhesive has cured.

Tips & Tricks

The hot steam dissolves the lignin cells and makes them move in opposite directions. By subsequent drying and cooling, the wood cells solidify again, the plywood is bent. The house journal offers you numerous articles for bending of materials. So of course also turn to the wood.


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