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Topic Review (Newest First)
10-23-2005 08:06 AM
Easiset Method

Wow Maverick,

I may be missing the boat here (pun intended), but I think there is a WAAy easier method. I am in the process of redoing my 49 Chev custom for the 3rd time(styles changed again). Anyway, I have owned a 49, 52 & 53 Chevy pick up and I do alot of woodwork. I have also built a few wooden boats and I built a few music instruments, so I know a thing or 2 about bending wood including plywood. These guys are giving you some correct info aboout bending wood, but I think there is an easier method. If you take boiling water and pour over wood, yes you can bend it as you pour the water and ,let it dry for a day or 2 and it will hold shape. What you are doing is breaking down the lingen in the wood. If you buy marine merranti plywood, say in 1/8. it bends very nicely and finishes like mahogany, it is mahogany just Luan is Phillipine mahogany except it can take hot water withoout delam. Anyway, if I wanted the wood look on one of these pick em ups, I would do it an easier way. If I remeber right, they have a back, or 2 piece shell made out of sheet metal. If what you are after is JUST a nice wood look, how about going to a wood worker store, and getting pre split veneer and gluing with contact or urethane adhesive? This stuff is split as thin as 1/32" in failry large sheets and made out of many domestic and exotic species and will form to a curve like linoleum, even compound in some cases. You can even finish it like regular wood because it is real wood.
If you have a few sheckles, coco bolo or rosewood would look awesome. If real wood look is all you are after, I would go this route, otherwise you can bend 1/4 wood strips in about 4" wide sections and then finish level after install. If you can and are willing to successfully do the latter, you can also build wooden boats by hand. Let us know if you need more detailed information.
10-22-2005 08:01 PM
Old Thread, I know, but...

Something should be mentioned about Bender Board - also sometimes called Wiggle Board or Wiggle Wood. Basically, it's an interior grade of Lauan or Poplar plywood, either in 3/8" or 1/8" thickness, and can be bent as easily as a piece of paper.

Bender board shouldn't be confused with regular Lauan plywood used for interior door skins. Bender board is made differently. On normal plywood, the grain of each ply runs perpendicular to the ply it sits on top of. This, along with the glues, heat, and pressure used in the bonding process give regular plywood it's rigidity - even in a sheet only 1/8" thick. In bender board, the grain of all of the plys run the same direction, and it can be bent along the length of the grain. Bender board is directional, meaning you can order an 8' X4' sheet that bends on the long side, or the short side, but not both directions. One drawback to using bender board is it doesn't hold its shape without fasteners - meaning it must be screwed, glued, nailed, or otherwise fastened to something to hold that shape.

Here are a couple of links for Bender Board.

Scroll to the bottom of this page:

Scroll to the bottom of this page and look at the right hand column:

In the cabinet shop, I've made some Bombe' front cabinets and curved, corner pieces using bender board, then applied Cherry or Maple verneer over it after the piece was completed. Then I finished it just like any other cabinet.

In the truck mentioned at the beginning of this thread, the bender board could be applied to the rear of the truck's cab, then a nice verneer applied over it using a good quality contact cement. A little light finish sanding with 150 - 220 grit sand paper, then adding the stain and topcoat of your choice would complete the project. Upholstering it could also be an option, but I've never upholstered it, so I don't know how that would work out. Wrinkles and such...

Hope this helps somebody out there!
10-05-2002 08:39 AM Listen to BRANDLER. The laminating method using thins strips of wood will give you an extremely stable and strong, perfectly curved piece that will look like the wood grew in that shape. the only plywood you can get anymore that isn't total crap is Baltic burch and that stuff is not easy to bend. In addition it is a most uninteresting grain and color.
09-25-2002 01:38 PM
brandler Yes, kerf cuts could work .... if the cab you're in is like your graphic, you've got a pair of faaaaairly tight curves to deal with. I'd suggest using as thin o' blade as you have, preferably one of those Japanese razor saws (or a sharp/thin hacksaw) and space the cuts close - 1/8" to 1/4". You can press it/mount it into place (after the soak), using the cab body as mold, then pour a line of wood glue along the top edge, and work it into the kerf ends with your finger, putty knife, or a compressed air stream. Before it dries, press a little kerf saw dust/glue into the kerf ends. Hit o' sand paper (120 grit folded to a stiff edge) and seal it.
09-24-2002 10:53 AM
oneangrypuppy Luaun is basically the cheapest clean grain plywood you will likely find. It is basically a soft Philippine mahogany with a fairly strait grain and a bit porous. If you like the look it would be fine stuff. If you need a different harder wood, or can't bend a tight enough curve, the kerf cuts described by dave5113 should work with any plywood or solid wood you choose. If the curve you choose to bend is too tight to bend the wood without splitting, you must use either a thinner piece, or one made thinner by using kerf cuts on the back. Use water or steam to make the wood softer and able to bend without splitting and cracking. For best results, you can slowly bend it over a form and clamp it while it dries. More kerf cuts is better than too few. If you do use the kerf cut method you will likely have some long thin (weak) spots after it is the shape you want. You can spread on some epoxy to partially fill the kerf cuts to regain some strength, and material thickness. In this application, I don't think you need much strength, but you could laminate some additional wood or even fiberglass on the backside after it is the shape you want to add strength. Brandler offered a different but very appropriate solid wood approach. Another expensive approach would be to use veneer, which could be bent and glued to any already bent backing made out of any material including sheet metal or fiberglass. I'd recommend NOT using veneer for you project, and would recommend the kerf cut method with plywood. Veneer is most appropriate on a small item or area, particularly one with a lot of curves that solid wood cannot be used for.
09-24-2002 07:11 AM
badgesx2 luaun plywood is a fancy name for interior door skin (like the doors in your house) it at home's about an 1/8 inch thick and has a good finished also works great for the backing on door panels..
09-24-2002 06:59 AM
Maverick Thanks for all the input!
What in the heck is luaun plywood?? Iam sure I know what it is just never hear the name.

Thanks again
09-24-2002 06:56 AM
badgesx2 I've got a 51 chevy pickup that i did the same thing to..i used luaun plywood (door skin) and it worked great..i wet it with water, not too much, and clamped it it a "workmate" and slowly bent it to the radius i needed and let it took a couple of times but it worked out perfect..the luaun plywood is cheap and has a good finished side for stain..i also used some 2x6's in the workmate and put the luaun between them so it would be closer to the point i needed the radius to start..i ran the luaun from door jam to door jam.. it fit in the groove at the back of the jam..there is a small brace there that you will have to notch out for..i also ran some 1x2"s across the cab braces to hold the luaun straight across the long span in the back of the cab..good luck..
09-24-2002 06:07 AM
rabrawlins Lee Valley Tools

has all the tools you need to steam bend the wood and the prices are pretty good too. Good Luck.
09-24-2002 05:42 AM
dave5113 On the back side of the plywood from top to bottom make some cuts with a saw about 1/2" apart, but not into the last ply of the wood. Get the good side of the plywood wet, bend it to shape, when it is dry, sand off with 220 sand paper. If it will not bend, make the cuts 1/4" apart.Go slow. Hope this helps.
09-24-2002 05:33 AM
thedoctor The easy way to do this is to sand the ist ply clear off , wide belt works best, be sure to sand the back side, once the ist ply is off you'll be able to roll it like a piece of paper, good luck .
09-23-2002 09:00 PM
brandler Ok, i'm a woodworker .... if you need it to fit curved corners, I'd suggest forgetting the flat plywood you have, buying a stick of 1X4 of the wood you like. Then 'rip' it on a table saw into 4 - 3/32" or so strips (4" X 3/32" X how ever long to wrap from door to door + a little extra). Make 3 dozen L's about 4" high with a 3" or so foot. A diagonal brace is recommended too, so these little L's will hold their 90degree angles. Then draw the curves, like looking straight down, onto a sheet of plywood and screw these L braces along the outside of the curved line about 3/4" - 1" apart. Soak those ripped strips in water overnight. Then place a bendy strip of something, like thin masonite, along the line and against the L's. Glue one side of strip one, place the unglue side up against the bendy masonite. Glue both sides of the next 2 strips and slap them in there then glue one side of the strip you want to show (the last strip) and put that up against the others. Cover this 'sandwitch' with another strip of bendy masonite and clamp this 'sandwitch' to each L (the masonite is to protect the glued wood strips from indenting from the L's and clamps).
Follow that? It's like you're making your own curved plywood.
Let that all dry a couple days, then unclamp, trim the edges, round over the inside corners, stain/finish and apply (glue/screw).
It's a long way around, but it's the way to do it right.
09-23-2002 12:08 PM
Halloweenking That would work fine. The stuff your talking about is called veneer. You could go the veneer route witch would be pretty easy, or you could buy and form some balsa wood, its a bit thicker, but with a tea pot or pot of boiling water you can form it with some patience. Veneer would be easiest and less exspensive/time consuming. You can get veneers in any wood species from oak to walnut burl, from domestic to exotic for a decent price. A bit of skill is involved in veneering, but I'm sure you'll get the hang of it rather quickly.

09-23-2002 10:19 AM
Maverick It dosnt have to be very thick. I kinda dont like the painted wood thing I like the real thing. Not to mention finding someone who can do it right with out breaking me. I had an idea about using alum. sheet then forming and glueing some of that thin wood they ues to restore old desk or table tops. Cant remember whats its called. then finishing it with stain and varnish. Watcha think about that?
09-23-2002 10:09 AM
Halloweenking Maverick, steaming would be ideal, how thick does the wood need to be? If you just want the look of wood, why not do an aluminum or sheetmetal peice and have it painted to replicate wood? If you look in Madd Syntst's photo album the "woody" wagon at the bottom has this same idea done, paint!

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