Laminating a curved rail with a vacuum press
When strip-laminating a curved piece of wood, a vacuum press can be a useful alternative to standard clamps
There are three ways to make a curved piece of wood: Saw it out of solid stock, steam-bend it, or strip-laminate it. For our fence project covered in the article “A Fence Forever,” I had to consider the effects of weather on the longevity of the curved piece. Steam-bending would not have been precise enough, especially for the size and shape that we were making, and a sawn curve likely would have broken across the short grain after being out in the weather. Strip-laminating was the best choice here. The result is stronger than the original wood, and it yields a more exact curve.
Having decided to laminate, I still had to consider what kind of glue to use and what kind of mold to build, and to determine the thickness of the strips. The thicker the strips, the more pressure it takes to force them into the desired shape,…