Turning Archive 2006

Bending spalted wood

John Lucas
>I think I have proven today that it is almost impossible to steam bend spalted wood. I have been working all day on a project that requires that I bend the wood. I managed to get the first one bent after only 2 tries. It was 8" long and varied from 5/15 to 1/4" and had a long curve. The first one broke. I'm using the microwave and a wet rag to heat the wood.

The other ones proved tougher. I am turning 5" long spindles that taper from 3/16 to 1/8". I need to bend them 90 degrees with a small radius. I experimented with this a year ago and found out that you can't bend even green fresh wood this tight without doing some other technique. I decided to try putting a metal band on the outside of the radius to keep the wood under compression at the elbow. This worked great on my first test using fresh green wood. It worked on the first spalted piece. I've since broken 3 in a row trying to get the second one bent. The 4th one is soaking in water now and I'll try it again in a little while. I'm guessing that spalted wood has just lost a lot of elasticity. I wouldn't use spalted wood except that it needs to match the rest of the piece.

If I ever get this piece done it won't be allowed anywhere near a church for at least a month. It will take that long for the language to wear off.

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