How to Curve Oak Wood


Bentwood furniture is attractive and stylish, and you can make it yourself. It is commonly used for rocking chairs and other light types of furniture, but you can bend wood for almost any purpose. Oak is desirable for use in furniture, but also a tricky wood to bend. However, you can curve oak wood into just about any shape you choose, as long as you use the correct techniques.

Step 1

Prepare your steam box. Attach the water container to the box with a hose. Steam should be able to flow through the hose and into the steam box.

Step 2

Heat the water using your heat source, and allow the box to fill with steam. Some steam should escape to prevent your box from becoming a pressure cooker.

Step 3

Place the piece of oak to be steamed in the steam box. Wear gloves and goggles when working with the steam box or the hot wood. Make sure there is plenty of space on all sides of the wood to allow moisture to penetrate evenly. Leave the wood in the box for an hour per inch of thickness.

Step 4

Prepare your form. You will need to move the wood quickly once you remove it from the steam box.

Step 5

Remove wood from the box and insert it into the form. Clamp it immediately. Spend as little time doing this as possible. As wood cools, it loses flexibility and may snap.

Step 6

Wait 24 hours for the wood to cool. Remove it from the form. Expect it to snap back a little. However, your oak should remain bent. You can cut and work it however you like.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't oversteam the wood. Avoid wood with grain runout--it will crack when you bend it.

Things You'll Need

  • Oak wood
  • Steam box
  • Boiler or other heat source
  • Heat-safe container for water
  • Water
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Forms
  • Clamps


  • Steambending Wood FAQs
  • Methods of Bending Wood

Who Can Help

  • RX For Bending Wood
Keywords: bentwood, bending oak wood, curving wood

About this Author

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, WI. She has been producing print and web content for various organizations since 1998, and has been freelancing full time since 2007. Articles have been published throughout the web. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, WI.

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