curved bay window skirting

Postby colmcfarlane » Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:28 pm

I've read the reply to a recent question about fitting curved skirting board. I need to fit skirting into a curved bay window area. If I were to take a piece of skirting and make a "see-saw" type of affair and dampen the wood around the "pivot", is it possible that the skirting will bend without splitting as it dries off ?
The skirting to be used is 15mm x 119mm pine torus.
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Simply Build It

Postby Oddbod » Sun Dec 23, 2007 2:00 pm

I'm afraid it is very unlikely.

People seem to think that steaming is a magic way to bend wood. Believe me, it isn't. Wood doesn't go soft just cos you wet it. If it did all our garden sheds would start looking like Gaudi masterpieces. It goes slightly – if you are lucky - soft if you get it as hot as you can for several hours using gallons of damp steam.

The hotter the better, in an ideal world you'd pressure cook the damn stuff.

My steamer gets through several gallons of water an hour - and it's not that large.

Once the wood has been steamed for a few hours you then haul it out, avoiding third degree burns as best you can. You then bend it to shapeon a jig with enough clamps, ropes and various weights to keep a medieval torturer happy, all the while waiting for the ominous crack that heralds another failure and the departure of half your clamps into the nether reaches of the workshop at a velocity that would do credit to a Somme artillery barrage.

OK, so I slightly exaggerate, but believe me you can't just waft a steam iron or wallpaper stripper up against a bit of timber for a few minutes and expect it to obediently curl up.

The only way to curve skirting is to cut very many REGULAR spaced kerfs (vertical cuts) across the back of the skirting. Everything really depends on the radius of the curve you need, but as a good rule of thumb cuts every ¾ to 1 inch, to half the depth of the skirting. They must be accurate and you can only really do this with a chop-saw. Take the cuts 2-3 inches beyond the ends of the curved section. BTW, MDF is a lot softer. You can't steam it, but it does kerf easily.
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Postby toptips » Sun Dec 23, 2007 11:59 pm

hi oddbod,loved your reply to this question,i take it thats a no then ha ha.
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Postby colmcfarlane » Thu Jan 10, 2008 3:13 pm

Thanks for the reply "oddbod". I ain't that dim; I wouldn't expect an immediate reaction to dampening the wood. The analogy to the garden shed was good - explains why mine is nice and curvy !
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Postby Oddbod » Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:47 pm


Glad you took my reply in the spirit it was meant, I was a bit worried I might have offended you! (I guess there were too many questions on steaming here, so I tried to nail it once and for all)

Wood will bend over a long time if it is under pressure (which is why we store it either flat and well supported or vertical) but it'd take a year or to to get anything useful!

Good luck with the skirting.

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Postby desperado » Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:40 pm

I tried this with a timber piece of skirting and it snapped but had good success with mdf skirting board. Two man job though, one person to use there feet spread apart and to hold the board in place while the other fixes it. It worked for us
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