Winter 2015 Newsletter - From The Workshop

Thursday, July 9 2015

We are often asked “how do you bend wood”? Some of our shapes are simply carved from the solid. If you consider our signature Cascade Rocker, this chair is all shaped by reduction; we start with a big piece of wood and remove stock until we end up with a smaller piece of wood in the correct shape.

The other way we “bend wood” is through a process called curved lamination. We start by selecting nice quartersawn stock. The stock is machined square on the Jointer (Jimmy), then dimensioned in the Thicknesser (Martin).The stock is then sliced at around 3mm thick on our custom built Centauro band-resaw (Goliath). The slices are then fed through our wide belt sander (Sandy) which perfectly dimensions them to a pre-determined thickness. The target thickness depends on the tightness of the curve required; the tighter the curve, the thinner the stock needs to be.

When the stock is ready for bending, we take it up to our laminating area. Here we have all the clamps and cauls required for the 21 different chair designs that we make. A polyurethane glue is applied, then the stock is placed in a pair of cauls. The cauls are a positive and negative of the shape required. Clamps are applied (this process requires a lot of pressure!) and the whole assembly is left until the glue has set, after which the shape is retained.

Our most “common” laminated components are the flexible back slats we use in many of our chair designs (a single Werriwa lounge chair has 10 of them). We use three strips of 2.7mm thick stock. When laminated, these back slats end up at 8.1mm thick. They are further profiled and finish sanded, which pulls them down to about 7.9mm thick. These are a snug fit in the 8mm slots we use to receive the slats.