I want to copy an old Jenny Lind spindle bed. The curved corners of the head and footboards appear to have been routed and bent at 90 degrees. This is a tight radius for the 1 3/4" stock. Is it routed after its bent? Would cutting the stock to shape be a better alternative to bending? It appears to to red oak wood. thanks
I think I would do the bend while it was square in section. Otherwise, it may be hard to keep the compression straps from slipping off of that small radius section, and there might be some tendency for the upper part of those middle lobes to split out on the topside as well, since it wouldn't be backed up, or supported.
When mass produced, these corners are rectangular blocks cut on the diagonal, so the grain runs from end to end. The flats are cut 90 degrees to each other, then bored for dowels, then run in a jig on a shaper. Some shops may shape first, then length/90 degrees, then bore.
I would bet lunch that they are never bent. Too much cross section, too tight a radius, and unpredictable results.
I once had an older turning expert some years ago explain to me that a lot of turnings were mass produced in the early 1900's, and made available for design and assembly by others. Sort of like cabinet doors and drawers today - outsourced. He was in a turning mill that started production in the 1860's, and from several generations of production turners.
The local furniture guy/cabinetmaker could buy these parts from catalogs and then make the ancillary parts to assemble a bed of whatever size needed. Turnings were the bulk of this type of work, and most shops had neither the skills or equipment to make the parts efficiently.
Keith or Paul, if you bend those, I'll buy lunch, but I'd love to see photos. Not that I don't trust you, I'd just like to see how you bend that Oak.
It can be bent. I recall seeing a television show from a traditional shipyard, possibly Mystic Seaport, and they steamed and bent a timber that I would have never thought possible. They had a huge steambox heated with propane burners and bent the timber with comealongs. If it's green oak and you can get enough heat, moisture, and leverage, big stuff can be bent.
I'm going to clean one of these up to get a better look at the grain. I'll make a new close-uyp photo and share it. thanks for all of the response. different opinions its what a forum is all about- right.
(whether you like the bed design or not, lets talk about the technical aspects of making the corner piece) Here is a new photo with the part cleaned up- and now i'm really confused. First its not oak. Maybe maple. Its almost impossible to follow the grain with all the fluting channels and ridges. I can barely discern some grain which may indicate that its shaped and not bent, but i'm not convensed. Oh well, let me know if you have any other comments.
If it's maple, my guess is it's not bent. If I were building it and using maple, I would saw it. If I wanted to bend something for it, it would be oak, hickory, or ash. That's not to say it couldn't be bent maple, just my opinion, for what it's worth.
My reasoning on why it is not steam bent goes like this:
Green or mostly green wood blanks are made and go into the steam box and are steamed. I assume they are oversize somewhat, with no profiling, or dowel bores. Once well done, they are brought out and forced into forms, then set aside to set up and to dry. And to dry. And to dry some more. Maybe into a kiln. With all this wetting and drying the dang things are no longer 90 degrees, or flat or whatever, just some nicely bent lumps that continue to move - mostly shrink - as they dry out.
Once dry enough to work with, they are then shaped to a good quarter turn and then ends squared and bored, and some profiling.
By the time all that would be done, I would have my 45 degree blanks made, the bed assembled and someone would be sleeping in the thing. Ugly or not.
All of that steam work is well apart from the turnings and boards and other shop work that goes into the bed. That is, the steambending is not used anywhere else in that project. A chair shop that utilizes steam bending - and is good at it - would make many parts that way, not just one or two.
I admit, my weakest skill set is steam bending, having done 'stove top' only, and watched a few videos. Having read about Thonet's trials and tribulations, I respect the craft immensely, but also think it is harder than I know.
Its probably birch(poor mans mahogany) and not steam bent. Steam bending that is a total waste of time.... Like Dave said-Its cut from the solid and left long, probably flush cut on a shaper(forward and reverse), shaped into round on a shaper... the reeding/molding is the pain.
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