Veneer Thickness for Laminating Curves

Advice on determining the fattest thickness of Oak veneer that can manage a 24-inch radius bend. August 18, 2009

I have a project where I need to bend white oak to a 24” radius by laminating veneer around a form. The pieces are 5 ½” wide by 9’ long. I want to achieve a final thickness of 4”. Does anyone have a rough idea how thin the veneer needs to be to make this kind of bend?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor P:
I am sure there are formulas, but I have never seen anything. I do quite a bit of bent lams, and I just play with the thickness until it "feels right". You should not have to use excessive clamp force to full the lams to the form. In your case, .09 to .13 thick will work, but to get to four inches, that is a lot or strips. It will be extremely rigid, but a very time consuming glue up, so your choice of adhesive is important. Think very slow set.

From the original questioner:
Thanks contributor P. I’m trying to estimate the cost of the project. I would like to go as thick as possible to reduce re-saw waste and the amount of glue-up required. I can try a few thicker test pieces. I’ve looked at CompWood, but it is pretty expense.

From contributor L:
24" radius isn't very tight at all for white oak. You should be able to go at least 5/16". That means you could re-saw a 1by twice and come up with three pieces per board. With your stock being 5-1/2" wide, your problem will be the tendency for each layer to want to cup out on the edges. It will be tricky to restrain those outer edges. Call me old fashioned, but I lean toward the old hide glue with lots of heat lamps to keep the assembly warm. Well, maybe not. That's a lot of sticky stuff and a lot of heat lamps.

From the original questioner:
Thanks contributor L. It would be great if I could go 5/16" thick. At least that gives me an idea where to start testing. I'm going to build a male bending form and use a compression strap and glue with West System epoxy. This may help minimize cupping.