Introduction: Bent Wood Quadrant Box With Fan Top

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This is a great little project in which to try dovetail joints, wood bending, veneering, and book-matching.

My 8" (200mm) radius box is ideal for holding a few watches, bangles, or other loved items.

If you decide to make one, please come back and let me know how it goes.

A playlist of the video series for making the box can be found here.


I used one seventeen inch log of firewood (which had been left with the bark on for a year in woodland, and consequently had developed some attractive spalting from fungal action) but something 3"x2"x16½" (75x50x420mm) would be plenty to build a box of similar size to mine (approximately 8" (200mm) radius).

Some 1/8" (3mm) mdf or ply for the base and sub-top, approximately 8"x16" (200x405mm).

Adhesive backed baize, should you want to line the top and base as I did.

PVA or hide wood glue.

½" (12mm) pins, grease proofed paper, weights and clamps, for glueing up veneers and corner joints.

Some ply, chipboard, etc, and packing or cellophane tape to build a bending form.

Domestic iron, paper towels, water spray, and clamps, for bending the wood.

Regular woodworking tools such as a plane, saws, chisels, etc.

Step 1: Material Preparation

Decide on the size of quadrant box you wish to make, and I recommend making a rough cardboard model too.

From your model, or radius and height decided upon, determine the sizes of the pieces you need.

For the quarter circle, you will need ½ x x radius, in length, width equal to the box height, and thickness about twice the desired final thickness.

To achieve the best grain match around the box, the two sides and the quarter circle pieces should all be cut from a single piece of wood with a width equal to the box height, and length equal to fractionally over twice the radius. See picture. A good description of achieving an all-around grain match can be found in this continuous grain match Instructable of mine.

The top veneers can be cut to various sized pie-slices, sufficient to make up a full quarter circle. The grain should run from tip to tail, and not across the slices.

The piece for the quarter circle needs to be re-sawn to produce 1/16" (1.5mm) or so thick laminations. This can be done by hand or with a band saw, etc, but whichever way you do it make sure to mark the edges such that the stack can be reassembled in the correct order.

All parts are prepared flat and smooth with a plane. Thin parts are more easily planed by clamping at one end and planing away from the clamp, before reversing and planing again.

Step 2: Bending Form

In order to bend the curved side, you need to build a solid bending form. This just consists of a stack of ply or similar, glued together and cut to the inside radius of the curve. Notches are cut on the opposite edge of the form to allow clamps to be more easily attached, and I found attaching the form to a base board that could be clamped to the bench was an advantage.

To prevent the lamination sticking to the form, its curved surface should be covered in packing or cellophane tape.

Step 3: Bending the Curved Side

Some woods will cope with cold and dry laminating around the bending form (such as clear and straight grained beech), however in the case of more troublesome ones like my spalted ash more precautions are needed.

I first used an iron to heat bend the individual laminations on the form. Where any excess force is required a spray of water onto the surface, together with the iron, will help heat penetration and ease the process.

Once all the laminations have been pre-bent, close to the desired radius, glue is applied between the layers and they are clamped tight to the form. Clamp first in the center, and then proceed towards the far ends.

After curing, the bent wood lamination should hold its shape very well.

Step 4: Joining the Sides

The bent lamination is first cleaned up with a plane, flushing the edges and producing the parallel flat top and bottom at the desired height. It should be a little over length, and now is the time to true it to an accurate pattern laid out on a sheet of paper. The ends are marked with a square, trimmed, and shot true with a plane.

The square corner, between the two straight sides, is first dovetailed as normal, before marking up the straight sides to curved side joints. These are no more difficult to prepare, except for the challenge of clamping during sawing and paring. Be sure to arrange the dovetails such that the pieces can be assembled easily; tails should be on the straight sides, and pins on the curve.

After a successful dry fit, glue the box frame together and allow to cure (tape should be sufficient to hold the joints tight), before flushing the joints with a plane.

Step 5: Base and Top

Use the frame as a pattern to cut a snug inset base and sub-top from MDF or ply.

Apply baize (if desired) to the inside surfaces of top and bottom, and glue the bottom into the frame.

Glue the veneer pie slices side to side to each other, atop some grease proofed paper to keep the panel free, using pins tapped into a base board to hold the pieces tight together, and weight it to keep it flat. Leave to cure.

Clean off any excess glue from the veneer panel and glue it to the sub-top, using the frame to align the pieces.

Once cured, trim the veneer top to lie flush with the frame.

Step 6: Finish

Apply your chosen finish and enjoy your creation!

Thanks for reading my Instructable, and please consider voting for it in this years Woodworking Contest.

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