Introduction: Bent-Lamination Guitar Stand
With this basic technique, you can make strong and graceful curves out of scrap wood and regular wood glue.
Step 1: Cut Your Laminations.
For the center stem of this stand (or any long, stiff element) you want pieces of wood about 3/8" (10mm) thick. Softwoods bend more easily, but hardwoods are more durable. Avoid knots and other defects and pre-bend the wood with your hands to make sure it doesn't crack.
Step 2: Glue and Clamp
The best glues for bent-lamination are slow-cure, hard-setting glues like Epoxy or Urea glue. But never fear; you can get along fine with regular wood glue. I recommend adding about 10% water to your glue to thin it and extend your open time. Brush it onto your laminations, stack them and bend them in place.
Lots of people use a form for this, but I use a central bending point and heavy weights to make the curve. I found chunks of railroad track work really well, but anything heavy will get the job done.
When clamping, you want to eliminate any gaps in the laminations. Use screw-based clamps, like C-clamps and use a TON of them. No such thing as too many.
Leave your glue-up for a full 24 hours. After that, pull off the clamps and sand or plane off any uneven laminations or glue.
Step 3: Connect Elements
Once you have two or more laminated curves, you might want to connect them together. You have a lot of options here. Glue and dowels work really well. Keep your dowels as small as possible to preserve the structure of your laminations. I use little cutoffs from bamboo chopsticks.
You can also use a nut and bolt, especially if you want your piece to come apart in the future.
I don't recommend screws as they are likely to split the laminations.
Step 4: Scale Down for Tighter Curves.
For the first element in this project, we used relatively thick laminations and only a few of them to create a gentle curve that was strong. If you want to make a more tightly curved element and still keep it strong, move to a thinner laminate. Commercially-made veneers are perfect for this application and are pretty cheap when ordered online. For the tight curve shown here, I used 6 strips of standard furniture laminate. It's about as thick as card-stock and easy to cut with a razor.
To get my tight curve, I used a piece of pipe as the form and them put on lots of clamps during glue-up.
Just like before, eliminate any gaps. Dry for 24 hours. Sand to clean up.
Step 5: Finish With Something Durable
You really need to finish bent-wood projects. You can't have moisture getting in there and messing up your work. An oil finish won't do the trick. You need hard film finish like polyurethane. Personally, I like spray lacquer. It's easy, durable, and dries fast.
Step 6: Use Your Piece!
When complete, bent lamination projects aren't just pretty, they're surprisingly strong and springy. I've made a guitar stand this time and the pieces barely flex when I hang the instrument. You could make the legs of a table or even a fancy chair using this technique.