Steam Bending Bloodwood

Bloodwood is a tough wood to bend. Bent laminations might be a more practical method. January 20, 2011

Has anyone experienced steam bending bloodwood? Using 3/4", I need to bend two pieces 36" at a 180 degree bend. This is for the inside ring of a custom poker table.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor G:
Bloodwood does not steam bend well, or at all. For an 18 inch radius, 3/4 inch thick, a bent lam is the only way to go. Use 3/32 thick strips and West System epoxy.

From the original questioner:
Have you actually tried bending Bloodwood? Or is this something you heard or read? Laminating is not an option. The edge is exposed and I donít want it to look like plywood. I think I'll make the bending jig and give it a try. If it doesn't work out, I'll have to go with another wood.

From contributor G:
Yes, just recently. The thicker stock was near impossible regardless of ribbon or flat cut. Thin stock is okay but radii is limited. If you cut your laminates in sequence from one board and run them through a widebelt you will have a near invisible joint. The epoxy makes a nearly invisible joint if you can pull it very tight over a form.

From contributor L:
I totally agree with Contributor G on this one. Done correctly you will not see the plywood look.

From contributor O:
If you're determined to try this, do your set-up, then try the bend using oak the same size as your bloodwood. Work on the set-up until you get the oak to work perfectly every time. Then try the bloodwood. Some wood species bend readily and others not very well at all. You'll soon see what Paul is talking about and you'll be satisfied your set-up isn't the problem.

From contributor J:
Bloodwood is brittle, so you'd better be able to do oak easy before you try the bloodwood. If you work the grain right and cut clean laminations they will look like grain.

From contributor Z:
I've read that jatoba is a good steam bending wood, and similar in look to Bloodwood. However, I've not been able to try most exotics because I haven't been able to locate Jatoba (or others) that haven't been kiln dried. Hardwoods should only be partially air dried to use for bending, (but good bending species like oaks don't seem to mind being pretty dry). This could be part of the problem with Bloodwood. Likely Bloodwood doesn't steam bend well, but I wouldn't discount it completely until someone has tried moisture contents of 15% to 25% (and soaking KD stock won't do it). I expect that the only Bloodwood available to us in the US and Canada is KD product. For me, if it's KD, it's too late to bend.