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How to bend plywood at home: step by step instructions

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To bend plywood, two conditions must be met: moisture and heat. There is also a dry way to change its shape. You can work with material of any thickness, but the thicker it is, the more time is spent to achieve a result. Bent plywood is used in construction for arches, spiral staircases, etc.

What kind of plywood can I bend?

Thin layers of wood are glued together, located in different directions. As a result, the fibers of one layer have a direction of 45º, 60º, 90º with respect to the fibers of adjacent layers. This method of manufacturing plywood increases its bending resistance, so it is easier to bend a material with a small number of layers. In production, it is bent using special equipment, clamping in matrices. Previously, it is steamed and acquires due to this sufficient elasticity.

During repair or private construction, a bent plywood structure may be required. Then you have to do with the means at hand. But even in this case, the work can be done efficiently if technology is followed.

Ways to heat plywood

Heating can be done in the following ways:

Without heating, work can be done with epoxy glue.

Hot water should be poured into a bathtub or other suitable large-sized container. The workpiece is immersed in it for about half an hour, as a result, the layers of wood are steamed. In domestic conditions, steam is created using a boiling kettle. Some experienced craftsmen warm the plywood with an iron. The steam supply must be constant, otherwise the wood will cool quickly.

Workpiece securing

Moistened plywood easily changes shape, but if the bending angle is large, the work is done in stages. The wood is bent by a small angle, dried, then the actions are repeated so many times until the desired shape is achieved. If the bending angle is slight, you can perform it at a time. The next step is to fix the plywood, which can be done in 2 ways:

  • the load is set in place of the bend, the ends are pulled together with a rope and supports are installed under them,
  • fastening in the template is done using tape or rope.

In the second case, any curvilinear structure of rigid material can act as a template. The most commonly used fiberboard. For the manufacture of arches, steamed wood can be fixed in the aperture using self-tapping screws. It is necessary to take into account some nuances of steaming wood: in very hot water it can delaminate, so it is important not to overexpose it. A thin layer is able to steam out in 5 minutes. You can use another option: iron the workpiece moistened with water with a hot iron. After that, immediately give the desired shape, repeat wetting and heating with an iron.

Watch the video about bending according to the finished template at the end of the article.

Durable steel metal template is also used to fix plywood, but it bends along with it. This technique is preferred for large parts having a complex configuration. The steel strip is tied to the plywood until it is moistened, then its shape is changed. The steel template is untied only after the wood has completely dried.

If a load is used to fix plywood, it is important that its width is equal to the width of the workpiece. If it is smaller, only that part of the wood that is equal to the width of the load will be bent. Changing the shape of plywood is carried out independently with its thickness up to 20 mm. It should be borne in mind that different types of wood have unequal ability to bend and unbend. Compression can be performed by 30%, stretching - by 2%. Good results show walnut, beech, ash. Poor change in shape of maple, oak, larch.

How to bend large sheets?

A very large sheet is not always possible to process with steam. In this case, make the so-called cuts. They are stripes that are cone-shaped. Used manual milling machine. Sawing should be performed to the opposite layer, it is important not to hook it, otherwise the material will crack. For wood with a thickness of 4 mm, the depth of cuts is 2 mm.

The number of cuts is greater, the steeper the bending radius. Then plywood should be clamped on a template, and a thin layer of veneer is glued to its outer side. The adhesive is applied epoxy or PVA. Drying time: about 1 day. Thus, the workpiece is hollow at the bend, but can withstand heavy loads.

Material Details

Before bending plywood with your own hands, you need to familiarize yourself with similar products in more detail. The product is a wood board obtained by gluing fragments of prepared veneer. To improve the strength properties of the fibers are positioned so that they are perpendicular to each other.

As for the number of layers, it can vary. Most often, the sheets consist of an odd number of veneer sheets. The easiest way to work is with thin plates, but their scope is limited to decorative functions. For the arrangement of arches or the formation of volumetric structures of a rounded type, thick sheets will be required in any case, which is rather problematic to bend.

The process of soaking elements

Masters who are thinking about how to bend plywood at home without unnecessary difficulties can be offered this option. It involves keeping the sheets above the boiling water tank or placing them directly in a liquid medium. Soaking time will depend on the type of product, as well as its thickness.

The technique of keeping plates in water is more accessible and safe, therefore it is proposed to consider it in detail. However, when carrying out work, quality plywood should be used. Bad sheets can peel off quickly. Before starting soaking, it is advisable to lower a small piece of material into a container of water. If nothing happened to him, then you can dip whole fragments.

Step-by-step actions will look like this:

  1. The workpiece of the required size is placed in the water for a certain time. You can understand that the product is ready for further transformations by conducting regular monitoring. The stove will become malleable.
  2. Soaking is suspended when the desired flexibility is reached. The sheet itself moves to a convenient place to work.
  3. The workpiece is bent and fixed with screws in a certain position until completely dry.

In domestic conditions, it is recommended to combine humidification with steaming. With this option, only the outer layer is impregnated with water. Steam is processed at the bend point. It is best to bend sheets along wood fibers, then it will be possible to achieve the maximum effect.

Frequent bending incisions

If the question is how to bend thick plywood, then an effective way would be to create numerous recesses in the right place. To create cuts you will need a cutter. With its help, special strips are made in a certain section of the wood board.

When working, do not make deep cuts. They should reach a maximum of half the thickness of the sheet. The veneer layer on the opposite side is not allowed to be damaged. Modern boats are often made of plates rounded by this technology.

So, how to bend plywood by making cuts in it, in steps:

  1. Frequent cuts are formed in a specific place.
  2. The workpiece is given the desired shape by fixing in the required position.
  3. A solid veneer is glued using a PVA or epoxy compound.
  4. After about 24 hours, the fasteners are removed.

Cutting is best placed on the inside. When veneer is glued, voids form on top of them. During careless use of the fabricated structure, gaps may appear.

Each layer has its own approach

In fact, of course, the solution to the question of how to bend plywood is not calculated accurate to the layer, but there is still a certain amount of truth in the title of the chapter. We will explain: there are a number of difficulties in bending plywood, which are associated precisely with the structure of the material, as well as with the technological features of the bending process.

  • The thinner the plywood, the easier it is to work with it. However, for the sake of objectivity, it is necessary to take into account the fact that for constructing, for example, arches, plywood must be at least 10 mm, that is, you already need to bend a fairly serious puff (see also the article Arch with plywood with your own hands - basic techniques) ,
  • Initially, the veneer layers are located at different angles to each other precisely in order to increase the resistance of the material to bending,
  • In the conditions of workshops and special workshops, bending and the necessary curvature are achieved quite simply: the part is practically saturated with steam and then falls under the influence of a kind of vice that bends it to the desired radius of curvature.

Interesting to know! At home, you can also steam impregnate a small piece of plywood. For these purposes, you can use boiling water that turns into steam in a pan or kettle. Some craftsmen solve the problem of how to bend plywood using steaming irons.

All this is real, but there are two points to consider:

  • The first is that the wood cools very quickly, this applies equally to plywood,
  • The second - it is very difficult to achieve uniform heating of the entire part, so this type is suitable for small fragments with bends, most likely for the production of curved surfaces of furniture or other small products.

How to bend

So, how to bend plywood without too much trouble?

There are two main technologies:

  • Ferry, (which has already been described),
  • In the bathroom with hot water.

The second technology is much simpler, it allows you to calmly put the necessary fragment into the bathroom, or another sufficiently large container and leave it in hot water for half an hour. The effect will be guaranteed, as the wood veneer softens under the influence of water and temperature, and the plywood part acquires the necessary elasticity.

Advice! Plywood, there is plywood, there is a very high probability of stratification of the material during prolonged contact with hot water. In this case, we offer you to become an experimenter for a while.

Take a strip of plywood of the required thickness and soak it in the bathroom. Check the condition of the fragment every 5 minutes for bending, if after a certain time (within half an hour) the fragment bends normally, it means that this time is enough to soak the entire working fragment.

The softened part can be installed on a stationary place, fastened with self-tapping screws and left to dry completely, this is if you are making a false column, a simple arch or other part that does not require additional complex structural inserts.

A few words about complex designs

Arch arch is different, as is the curvilinear structure of another curvilinear structure. Often, home craftsmen resort to complex, combined solutions using patchwork and other decorative elements. In this case, the entire structure is assembled into a single ensemble, and only then it is mounted and strengthened in a stationary place.

Note! In this case, a lot depends on the bending angle. If this angle is very small, then in order to achieve it you will have to make several approaches.

The material is soaked, bent as much as possible, then left to dry completely. Then everything is repeated again until the part acquires the intended curvature. Mounting to templates.

There are several basic technologies for securing workpieces after soaking.

We will not repeat them all, we will focus only on the one that we consider most acceptable for the following reasons:

  • If you don’t install the workpiece directly in a stationary place, then you need an accurate, even bend and a combined solution,
  • The maximum winning result can only be provided by a pre-prepared blank or template,
  • Fixation on the template is guaranteed to save you from the need to redo or correct the part.

In this case, we are talking about fixing the fragment on the template until it dries completely. Making the template itself is quite simple, by the way, there are also a lot of manufacturing options.

Here is one of them:

  • Take wooden slats with a length equal to the length of the part,
  • From a chipboard or a tree, cut several fragments (3 or more, depending on the length of the bent sheet of plywood) and fasten them to the slats,
  • On the finished frame with screws, fasten the plywood puff and leave until completely dry.

About working with large sheets

Sometimes it becomes necessary to bend a large sheet of plywood with your own hands. This occurs during the design of the arched arch of considerable length or other similar shape.

In this case, the following is done:

  • A cutter on a tree cuts to the last layer, but without damaging this layer (otherwise, you just ruin the workpiece),
  • The number of cuts is determined by the radius of curvature, the smaller it is, the more cuts,
  • The sheet is placed on the template and fixed, while the voids are not filled, but glued, PVA glue is quite suitable (find out here how to glue the plywood to each other).

Bonding Methods for Thin Sheets

Before bending a sheet of plywood of large thickness, you should consider the option of using several plates. You can glue together a number of fragments, as bending them individually is much easier. However, when using low-quality glue, problems may arise with the delamination of the product already at the initial stage of operation.

First, one-piece sheets are cut to produce workpieces of suitable sizes. All fragments are manually bent and fixed to each other using epoxy glue. To avoid deformation changes, clamps are mandatory.

The final part is rubbed off from the dried glue. Possible defects are removed from its surface. At the last stage, grinding is carried out.

Some nuances

The above information makes it clear how to bend plywood in many ways. To achieve the best result, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with some of the subtleties:

  • when soaking, it is allowed to bend the plates only in a state of elevated temperature, otherwise cracks may appear,
  • elements that will be curved should be stored in rooms with a stable level of humidity,
  • with the high cost of the purchased material, you can use the services of specialized companies.

Before bending plywood 10 mm or more, it is necessary to determine the method used. The option should be selected depending on the angle of fracture. As for products of smaller thickness, they are bent only by soaking with water or steam.

Material Features

In hypermarkets you can buy ready-made curved plywood. But its thickness will be no more than 4 mm. It will be a great option for making an arch. You can meet Chinese flexible plywood, which ideally combines price and quality. If such options do not suit you, then you have to do the bend yourself. In order to bend thicker plywood, you will need to make an effort. There are several types of technologies: for example, steaming, gluing, notching, and more.

It is worth noting several positive aspects of this building material. The price of plywood is quite reasonable. It is used for the manufacture of a wide variety of custom designs. Moreover, plywood is a material that even a layman can work with. The most important thing is to understand the technology of manufacturing curved surfaces from plywood. This will be discussed further.

Attention to every layer

Curved plywood

In the process, there are several difficulties. What are they connected with? Mainly, with the structure of the material and the technological process of a particular bending method. For example:

  • Easier to work with the smallest plywood. But do not forget that for the manufacture of a banal arch, plywood 10 mm thick will be required. It will take effort to bend such a "puff".
  • Each veneer layer is located at a different angle. This is due to give the product strength as well as resistance to bending.
  • In special workshops, it is very easy to get a plywood bend. It completely soaks under steam and with the help of special vice the necessary form is bent.

A similar method can also be used at home. To do this, you should correctly use steam from a boiling pot or kettle. Some use household irons that can dispense steam.

Given all these nuances, it is important to understand the following. Plywood, as well as, in principle, all wood is very quickly cooled. Using the method of steaming at home is extremely difficult to achieve uniform heating of the sheet. Therefore, this method will be relevant for small workpieces.

Steaming method

Shaping

Лист фанеры в домашних условиях можно пропарить над кипящей в емкости водой. Важно, чтобы пар подавался песперебойно. Существует другой метод, который заключается в замачивании фанеры в ванне. Soaking time will directly depend on the complexity of the bend and on the thickness of the sheet. For example, if bakelite plywood, then less time is required. If it is baked, then more time will be required.

  • When soaking in water with a temperature of 60 ° C, the soaking time is increased up to 2 times.
  • When soaked in water with a temperature of 15-30 ° C, the period increases by 20 times.

Steaming time table

After the elapsed soaking time, the plywood must be fixed to the template and fixed well. Wait for it to dry completely. If the bending is carried out across the fibers, then the bending will be as large as possible. If you decide to do a similar operation at home, then it is better to combine moisturizing with steaming. Steaming is carried out directly at the bend, and the top layer of veneer is moistened.

Steaming

If we return to the method of soaking plywood in a bath with water, then after the water procedure plywood will become quite elastic.

There is one danger! It is very likely that the plywood can delaminate. Therefore, for starters, it is best to try on a small piece of plywood, so as not to spoil the entire future structure.

Bending pattern

The work process is as follows:

  1. The plywood of the required thickness is soaked in the bathroom.
  2. Every five minutes it is checked for its elasticity.
  3. If after thirty minutes the plywood bends easily, then the procedure should be completed.
  4. Further, the softened part is installed in its place, while it must be fixed with a self-tapping screw.
  5. After complete drying, the manufacture of the desired design can continue.

Here is such a simple and primitive method of bending plywood under the influence of moisture.

Incision method

If you need to bend plywood with a thickness of 16 to 22 millimeters, then the cutting method is the most effective. This will require a cutter. She makes incisions at the proposed bend site. In this case, the depth of the cut should not exceed half the total thickness of the workpiece. Also, the cut should reach the veneer, which is located in the opposite direction, to the extent that it does not violate it. If on one side the angle is needed on the other, then the cuts in these places are made of a different width. According to this principle, plywood is curved for the manufacture of a boat.

Next, the bent workpiece is clamped onto a mold, on top of which a veneer sheet is glued. The drying period may take twenty-four hours. As an adhesive, you can use PVA or epoxy.

Gluing this or that part is permissible both inside and vice versa, with cuts. If the cuts are outside, voids may form.

Gluing

Bonding plywood

To give the plywood a curved appearance, a “pattern” is cut out of a thin sheet of plywood. It is laid on the sheet so that the direction of the veneer alternates. As a result, the design will have the necessary ductility and rigidity. Each plywood layer is glued with epoxy glue. To give shape, the workpiece is clamped with clamps for one day. After drying, all irregularities and exposed glue are removed from the part. Upon completion, the workpiece is ground.

Sophisticated plywood designs

Complicated plywood figures

One of the complex structures that can be made of plywood is the arch.

Often there is a need for several approaches to soak plywood. Especially if you have not achieved the desired angle.

Using any of the above methods, you can bend plywood. If you decide to use the soaking method, then you should first take care of the template. Having fixed the part on the template, you definitely do not have to redo everything all over again. Making such a template is easy. To do this, take a rail of the same length as the length of the part. Then, cut out several fragments from the chipboard and fix them with slats. The number of such fragments will directly depend on the length of the bent sheet. Then, on the already finished frame, plywood puff is fixed with screws and wait for it to dry completely.

Some useful tips

Bend

For successful work, it is important to remember several nuances. The bending radius across is much smaller than along. Store already bent parts in a room with low humidity up to 10%. If you have chosen a steaming method, then you should bend such structures when they are still warm. An important factor is the company that produced this sheet of plywood. Perhaps they can bend the plywood to the desired angle. Especially, this service will be useful if you do not want or are afraid to spoil the material you bought.

So, we examined with you different methods. Most of them are simple and can very well be implemented even at home. You will surely succeed. Share your comments on perfect plywood folding experiments.

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