How to soak & bend plywood
All forms of construction use plywood, a building material created by a process of gluing wood veneers into panels. It's popular for flooring and roofing because it is versatile and durable. Plywood has also been used for furniture by Ray and Charles Eames, and hurricane shutters.
It comes in different grades according to wood type, quality and thickness. Constructing plywood involves using adhesives on wood veneers at right angles to prevent warping. Manufacturers create bending plywood from imported wood veneer that is glued together in one direction, allowing it to curve easily. However, with some ingenuity, you can soak and bend regular plywood.
Wet enough towels to cover the area of plywood you are planning on bending completely. Warm water works best for this project.
Saturate the plywood where you need it to bend. It may take several days. Keep the towels soaking wet through this process.
Bend the plywood while it is still wet and the fibres are soft. Place plywood across a mould or clamp it into the desired curve. Once it dries it will regain its rigidity and original shape. Be sure to keep it in its bent shape.
- Steaming plywood for two to four hours is a better method for bending plywood. Create a steamer with a electric plate and pan of water inside a wood box. Place plywood inside and then curve into your desired shape after it becomes pliable.
- Use caution with pools of water on the shop floor. Place caution signs for others to prevent slipping.
- If you decide to steam your plywood, be aware of the fire risk.