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Maverick 09-20-2002 01:18 PM

Wood working
How can I mold wood in to a curve?? My objective is on the inside back of my cab on my '49 chevy I want a wood panel to cover up the wall braces. I want it to run from the door jam all the way down the back to the door jam on the other side. How can I mold a piece of 1/4 inch finished plywood to fit the corners of the cab. Do ya fallow what I am trying to do? I know I could soak it in water to bend it in place but Iam thinking it will wrinkle in the corners or the plywood would just plain come apart. If ya need more info on what Iam trying to do let me know. Thanks for your input!

Kevin45 09-20-2002 01:35 PM

Usually to bend wood you need to steam it and let it cool to a form. If what you are talking about it would involve two different radii or compound curves. You would be better off doing this in aluminum and possibly covering it with upholstery. Or do you want the wood look? If so it might have to be done in symmetrical pieces from side to side and use an upholstered divider between the panels.


Maverick 09-20-2002 01:39 PM

Yup! I was wanting the stained wood look. Iam kinda a long ways from being at that point. I was just stitting here pondering it so thought I would see if anyone had some ideas. Thanks!

Halloweenking 09-23-2002 10:09 AM

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!


Maverick 09-23-2002 10:19 AM

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?

Halloweenking 09-23-2002 12:08 PM

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.


brandler 09-23-2002 09:00 PM

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.

thedoctor 09-24-2002 05:33 AM

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 .

dave5113 09-24-2002 05:42 AM

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.

rabrawlins 09-24-2002 06:07 AM

Lee Valley Tools

has all the tools you need to steam bend the wood and the prices are pretty good too. Good Luck.

badgesx2 09-24-2002 06:56 AM

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..

Maverick 09-24-2002 06:59 AM

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

badgesx2 09-24-2002 07:11 AM

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..

oneangrypuppy 09-24-2002 10:53 AM

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.

brandler 09-25-2002 01:38 PM

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.

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