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This is for a DT GCSE Coursework Project, not Home Improvement, but same sort of thing.

I'm designing an iPhone Dock, and on the inside there is going to be a piece of ('gently') line bent acrylic in order to hold the speakers, wires and stuff (basically like a roll cage in a car but also for holding stuff). What is a type of wood that'd look good, and I would be able to put around it (wrap around), as I haven't seen any wooden iPhone docks before and I think if done well it would look really good?

I can upload a diagram if you need, but I hope this is well enough explained

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If you feel that the diagram would be helpful then edit your question with the link and ask somebody to move it onto your question. We have know problem helping. –  lqlarry Mar 9 '12 at 23:55
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3 Answers

If you want something that's flexible, then you need the thinnest board you can find. Something like this might work since it's only 1/4" thick. If you need a thicker surface, then glue two or more pieces together in the bent position. I've also seen boards placed in a hot steam to make them more flexible. Get plenty of extra wood to be prepared for some trial and error.

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Lamination is generally the way to go for bent shapes, not only because it's more flexible, but because the glue bonds between layers don't let the wood return to its original shape. –  kdgregory Mar 10 '12 at 13:35
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How big is this dock going to be? If it's 12" or so, you might be able to laminate thing strips as BMitch says. If it's going to be less than that, the curves will probably be too extreme.

One alternative is to glue flat stock (say 1x6x12) together until you make a block, then cut the shape that you want out of that block using a bandsaw. This should actually give you structure as well as appearance. You will, however, see grain pattern changes between the layers.

If you go this route, I'd recommend either red oak or maple: they're both commonly available at big-box shops, and are relatively inexpensive. Maple may give you less disruptive grain transitions between the layers, but its face grain is rather boring. Oak has a more pronounced face grain, but also more open end grain; you will definitely see the transitions.

Another alternative is veneer, which is a thin sheet of wood created by "peeling" the log. I don't know that you'll find this at a big-box store; you will probably have to go to a woodworker's specialty store like Woodcraft. The link that I posted shows prices for relatively large quantities, because most people buy it for a piece of furniture; if you click on a particular wood you can find smaller-sized pieces (and varying thicknesses, which I would not call "veneer").

If you go the veneer route, I'd still start with a glued-up block cut on a bandsaw. However, you can use plywood or softwood, since nobody's going to see it.

Another caveat with veneer is that it's really only applicable for a two-dimensional bend. The solid block, however, can be cut with compound curves.

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+1 I saw some thin veneer strips for the edge of a counter or shelf available at the big box stores. They would be an easy solution for a small project. –  BMitch Mar 10 '12 at 14:11
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Would bent plywood fit the bill? You'd need to build a mold such that the resulting shape would fit around your acrylic. The mold would need to be designed such that there would be a single unbroken curve so that you could fill it with sheets of veneers sandwiched together with glue.

I saw a process document on instructables.com yesterday that documented the process for a nightstand. It looked like a lot of work, but the results looked nice.

It looks like the ability to create bent plywood for this use depends a lot on the shape you'll be wanting to wrap and the ability to create a mold for that.

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Thanks. The Plywood at school doesn't seem to bend that much or look that good, but I'm sure that I'll be able to get some better quality stuff if I know what I'm looking for, and that nightstand looks really good. Thanks. –  e__ Mar 10 '12 at 10:24
    
I haven't looked at the video, but generally you cut kerfs in the back of the plywood to give it the ability to bend. You're still limited by the flexibility of the underlying wood. –  kdgregory Mar 10 '12 at 13:32
    
@edcox you don't buy the plywood, you make it. You bend a thin piece of wood, then bend another thin piece of wood and glue it to the first, and repeat. –  Tester101 Mar 10 '12 at 13:39
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