Introduction: Amazing Wood Bending Technique!

About: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

Would you like to see how easy it is to bend wood like a slinky?

The trick to this technique is all about the setup, and once you've got that down the possibilities are near endless! I saw a band saw cut vase on a woodworking forum that I frequent, that lead me back to the work of Seth Rolland. I was amazed that I'd never seen any of his work until now.

I stopped short with the projects I had on the bench, and worked out a method that I could use to make these cuts without involving my evil nemesis, math. I think the process I worked out, makes sense and should be fairly easy to translate it to larger and more intricate cuts. I would love to see you make of it.

Be sure to visits Seth's website :

Step 1: Sizing and Layout of the Wood

I started by cutting down some 3/4" walnut I had in the shop.

I ended up with a test board measuing 5" wide and 9" long. I then marked a 1/2" margin all the way around the outside. It would be both, a guide for where to stop the band saw cuts, as well as edges for the holding on to while bending.

Step 2: Making the Cutting 'units' & Setup of the Band Saw

My first attempt at the idea was simply to print out a cutting template on a sheet of paper and glue it the board. Making straight cuts on the band saw by hand is something best left to more well trained souls. It was a travesty and I needed a better way.

So I cut out 8 thin strips at the table saw. They were suppose to be 1/8 of an inch but were a bit thicker. This is when everything fell into place in my head. "Who cares what thickness they are, as long as they are all uniform!" Which they were.

  1. I stacked them the 8 strips up and placed them next to my table saw blade (while the saw was off!)
  2. I then brought the fence over an that give me the measurement for an "8 unit" cut without a tape measure
  3. I removed the strips and then cut a scrap piece of wood & labeled it '8 units"
  4. I then took both the 8 strips and the "8 unit" block and repeated the process to get another block.
  5. It was then labeled "16 units".

Hopefully that all makes sense

.Next I took a board with a known good 90* angle and clamped it to my band saw to make a parallel fence (if your band saw already has a fence you're a step ahead!) and lined up the 1/2 margin with the blade. We're now ready for the first cut.

Step 3: The Cutting Process. Getting in the Groove...

  1. While keeping the work piece against the fence cut the length of the board
  2. Stopping the cut right at the 1/2" margin you marked earlier.
  3. Then back out the cut and add one "unit" strip up against the fence.
  4. Flip the board over and make another cut, again stopping at the 1/2" margin mark.
  5. Rinse and repeat.

You will begin to see this zig-zag pattern emerge with in a few cuts. It's just a matter of following the steps. Add a strip, make a stopped cut, flip the board over and begin again.

Once you've gone 7 strips deep, you can replace those with your "8 unit" board. Then you can begin adding the strips again till you get to 15 and replace both with the "16 unit" board. For me, the process went pretty smooth, but I did get so wrapped up at one point that I forgot the flip the board. You can see the double cut if you look close.

Complete the process till you reach the end of the board.

Step 4: The End Result

The end result is a super bendable plank of wood that defies it's nature. It just feels wrong!
So what are you going to use this for?

Vase? Lamp shade? Letter Holder? Wooden Hinge?

I've got some ideas, but I bet you all come up with even more.... If you make this, let me know. I'd love to see it!