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What is Bendywood and How is it Made?

What is Bendywood
Stylish chairs can be made out of Bendywood

What is Bendywood?

Bendywood is, perhaps unsurprisingly, exactly what the name suggests, a wood that bends. Now, I hear you saying that all wood can bend, so what’s special about this one? Due to a particular manufacturing process, this wood can be shaped and bent by hand without the need for further steaming or heating. Also, unlike Plywood or MDF, this flexible wood is a solid hardwood so it retains its natural grain and beauty whilst being incredibly easy to work with.

What are its origins?

For thousands of years, the traditional way to bend wood was to heat it using steam. Over the centuries this process was refined, culminating at the start of the 20th Century with the Thonet bending technique. Thonet bending means the wood, after steaming, is compressed as it is being bent, allowing it to be curved to a much narrower radius. The idea that compressing the wood allows it to become more flexible was developed and refined over the years until 2003, when the pliable wood product was registered globally as Bendywood.

How is it made?

A variety of hardwoods such as beech, oak, ash, walnut, cherry and maple can be used in the manufacturing process. Whichever wood you select is first steamed to soften the cell walls and then, whilst still moist, compressed along the grain reducing the length by about 20%. When it is dry the wood maintains an impressive flexibility, it is able to bend to a radius of 10 times its own width. This compares to roughly 45 times its own width for the same wood untreated.

What is it used for?

New materials like MDF and Plywood led to new designs and ideas for the use of wood. Now, thanks to the incredible flexibility of this pliable hardwood, the applications for its use are just being realised. The curve of a spiral staircase handrail would be a complicated and expensive project using traditional wood bending techniques, however, this supple new wood makes the job a lot simpler as it can easily be bent by hand. Handrails can be shaped to virtually any curve, allowing bespoke projects to be carried out by hand so you get just the finish you want.

The design of modern furniture has always been influenced by new materials. Curved designs that in the past would have been too difficult and expensive to make can now be produced much faster and at a fraction of the cost. Interior designers have also used Bendywood to create fantastic products from coat hangers to table lamps, the flexibility of the wood meaning new designs can be constantly created. Frames for glasses and insoles for shoes are two of the more fashionable applications for this brilliant bending wood.

The design of modern furniture has always been influenced by new materials. Curved designs that in the past would have been too difficult and expensive to make can now be produced much faster and at a fraction of the cost. Interior designers have also used Bendywood to create fantastic products from coat hangers to table lamps, the flexibility of the wood meaning new designs can be constantly created. Frames for glasses and insoles for shoes are two of the more fashionable applications for this brilliant bending wood.

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