Bending wood with steam is one of the many different techniques you’ll learn in this class.
We’ll teach you how to manipulate timber into bent shapes using laminating, dry heat, kerfing and of course steam. We’ll show you how to harness the power of steam using simple tools and techniques that you can use at home.
The main projects are a set of steam-bent Shaker boxes and a Tom Raffield inspired lamp.
Why Bend Wood?
Straight lines are all well and good when you want to keep things simple, but that simplicity can become a little rigid and boring.
Curves add strength, lightness and flair. They open up a world of possibilities to the designer-maker. One of the areas where this has been most apparent is in the evolution of the chair. Three of the most significant designers leading the way were Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames and Michael Thonet.
In 1859, Thonet used steam bending to mass-produce a range of chairs that was both light and strong as well as affordable. By the 1930s, Aalto was testing the limits of bent plywood and laminated birch to make the Piamio chair. Heavily influenced by Aalto, the Eames’ went on to use hydraulic presses to mould plywood into ever more complex shapes. Where the Piamio chair was bent in just one direction, the Eames chairs could be bent in multiple directions.