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Laminate wood bending; adding trim along a radius

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Most trim applications are placed along a flat wall with square corners. Even if you've never worked with moulding before, the installation process is simple and easy to figure out. When you encounter a curve, however, the moulding is not only more difficult to install but often needs to be custom made. Wood does bend, but only when its thin enough to allow the fibers to flex. This article demonstrates a tried and true method for bending wood in any specie. For painted applications it should be noted that there are other alternatives such as flexible man-made composites. These materials are ready to bend right out of the box and can be machined to match your selected moulding profile. Suppliers would include Flex Moulding, or Flexible Moulding Concepts.

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Bending solid wood can be accomplished using several techniques. The two most common are steam-bending and laminating. Each has its own merits. Steam-bending allows the user to bend single-piece, thicker members. The disadvantage is it requires special equipment and a lot of trial and error to dial in the specifics. The simplest method is laminate bending. Wood is cut into thin strips, usually around 1/8” thick depending on specie. Glue is applied to each strip and the assembly is clamped around a form made to the desired radius. When the glue has cured the material is cut and profiled to the desired shape. The process certainly takes more time than working a flat moulding application, but with a little practice it can be done quickly and efficiently.


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