Bending and Laminating Cherry

Quartersawn wood will behave a little better than flatsawn for making a laminated bent piece, but it's not a critical issue. April 21, 2008

I am making a table with bent legs. I want to laminate a stack of .125" x 4" x 4' and bend them over a form, then shape them. Is there any benefit to using 1/4 sawn cherry over flat?

Also, I don't really want to resaw the cherry. I was thinking of subbing that out. Can anyone recommend a place that will mill and ship 130 pieces to me at the aforementioned dimension? Or do you think it is too small of an order and I should just get my local millwork place to do it? I am in Portland, OR.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, Sawing and Drying Forum technical advisor:
If you are using a slight bend, then either is fine. For a more severe bend, quartersawn is a bit better. However, straight grain (less than 3 degrees of slope) and correct MC (15% to 18% for slight bends; 22% to 25% MC for severe bends) are much, much more important.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I think I am going to soak the pieces in hot water, then bend them over the form without glue first, then do it again with the glue. Do you think that is smart or a waste of time? I made one these tables a few years ago and have another opportunity to make it.

From contributor A:
If you've already done one before, then you should have a good feel for the stresses involved. I've done a fair amount of bent and tapered lamination work (I was fortunate to spend a week with Jere Osgood picking his brain on this). Needless to say, quarter sawn will behave a bit nicer, but I've used both in cherry. I would not sub this out because I would want to cut and stack all of the pieces in the same order that they came off the board. Doing this really makes a huge difference in the appearance. If you still have the forms from the one you did earlier, simply take a single piece, bend it and see what stresses it is under.

From Professor Gene Wengert, Sawing and Drying Forum technical advisor:
I would not wet them. However, I would get them at the correct MC using humidity.

From contributor W:
I have just finished using 1/4" x 1 3/4" x 48" cherry lams to bend into rockers for two rocking chairs. There were 7 lams being bent to make a 1 3/4" stack. The outside radius is 42". The pieces were at shop humidity for about 5 days after being cut out of the plank. No attempt was made to select quarter or flat sawn pieces, but we did maintain cut order. There were no problems in making the bends into the form. As we all know, cherry can be highly variable within a given plank. At least for those of us in small, one-man shops.