Wood Bending! What types work best, etc

So we’re making a chair for our final project this term, we’ve got our design and everything, but now we need to get materials and make the thing.

Design: It’s one piece of wood from the seat back, bent into the seat, bent down to make the front legs (wire-rod for the back legs). “Unfolded” the wood part is about 48.5" long. The bends between the flat sections of the back, seat and legs are R 2".


Material: need something “bendable” enough to accomodate the radii, yet long enough to make the entire part in one piece of wood. We’d be using veneer, so we’re not trying to bend a solid 5/8" thick piece of wood!

Help!: What kind of wood will work best for this? I’ve read online that White Oak, Canadian Yellow Birtch and While Elm bend fairly well… any thoughts?

Thanks!

GREAT
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hackberry
white oak
red oak
magnolia
walnut
hickory
walnut
beech
elm
birch
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GOOD

in that order

Great! But, which end of the list represents what? :mrgreen:

basically, the harder the wood, the better it will bend without cracking. I worked alot with walnut. A nice quarter-sawn peice wil be like buttah.

Design: It’s one piece of wood from the seat back, bent into the seat, bent down to make the front legs (wire-rod for the back legs). “Unfolded” the wood part is about 48.5" long. The bends between the flat sections of the back, seat and legs are R 2".

Sounds like you’re talking plywood similar to the Eames and Aalto chairs.

There is a plywood made specifically to take extreme bends on one axis. laminated up in 3-4 layers it will be rigid enough. Check your local specialty hardwood store for bendible plywood. You’ll also need to build a mold or means to laminate all layers to the profile you want.

I think most likely you will be guided by availability. I was looking for some good laminates a while ago, and found I didn’t have a lot of options. Just out of curiosity what method are you using to bend the chair?

There is a plywood made specifically to take extreme bends on one axis.

Yeah. Check for marine plywoods.

In my experience:
1/8 italian popular is pretty good. You might need to soak it in water before attempting a 2" R.

Vacuum bag with a 2 part epoxy resin will hold it together. West Systems is ok. But Unibond 800 is the best for a rigid cure that penetrates the wood to bond the fibres together.