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I want to make a curved rod out of wood.

I basically want to create the wooden version of this metal rod:

Curved metal rod 1

Here's another similar rod:

Curved metal rod 2

I conducted some searches online, and it doesn't seem that wood elbows can be purchased anywhere. This means that I have to make them myself.

Note: I have no experience with woodworking and DIY projects like this in general.

At first, I was thinking that I would have to take my dowel rod and physically bend the rod to achieve the curve. Soaking the whole rod in water for a while might loosen the wood to the point where it would be somewhat pliable. Alternatively, I could bring the dowel to a local woodworker who owns a steam box. Another option I found was to even use one's microwave as a wood steamer. No matter which method I chose to soften the wood, I would then clamp the rod around a curved jig, so that the wood would dry into an elbow and hold its shape. Here is an example of this jig:

Jig to bend wood

Upon some more thought, however, I think that bending a dowel is not the easiest path. The bend would be a pretty sharp bend. I'm worried that I might split the wood; a dowel rod is much thicker than plywood.

I then realized that I could fasten a rectangular block of wood to the end of the dowel, and then remove material in order to achieve the curve.

I am not skilled in graphic design, but here is a rough diagram I made in Photoshop to depict this method:

Elbow diagram

In the above image:

  • The solid black bars represent the two dowel rods (one on each side).

  • The yellow box represents the block of wood.

  • The yellow curve with black outline represents the desired curve.

What is the best way to go about creating this yellow curve? Specifically: How should I fasten the wood block to the ends of the two dowels? How should I remove the yellow material to create a smooth curve?

Assume that I have zero tools. But, I am willing to purchase whatever is necessary to create the curve. (Within reason, of course; please keep everything under $1000.)

I think that there is probably more than one way to approach this. Most likely, I have no experience with the tools that I'll need to use, so I think that the best method is one that is the least difficult for a beginner, while still achieving a nice result.


Oh, and it's entirely possible that I am thinking about this in the wrong way, and that my above diagram is not the most practical path to create an elbow out of wood. I am not wedded to my idea, so if you have a better one, I am on board.

  • Does the curtain need to be able to slide on the "return" portion that meets the wall, or can that section of curtain be fixed past the elbow? I ask because in my mind you could just use the block of wood as the directional change elbow, without whittling it into a curved shape, by attaching the "main" and "return" dowels directly to it. – Jimmy Fix-it Mar 25 '17 at 15:46
  • @JimmyFix-it Oh. I never even thought of that. You're right; the curtain would still be able to be manually moved over the right-angle to get it flush against the wall. So, no, I guess that the rod does not need to be curved. However, from an aesthetic standpoint, and from an ease-of-operation standpoint, I would like to curve the rod. – Fil Mar 25 '17 at 15:57
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I hate to have to rain on your parade but there is a reason you do not find ready made wooden curtain rods as you describe. At a span of 76 inches even the straight part of a dowel rod that is less than an inch in diameter will sag over time. Add to that the extra weight of black out curtains and the straight part of the rod will be even less effective. This is the reason that the usual straight wood curtain rods that you find will be at least 1.5 inches in diameter if not even 2 inches. And at your span such rods still need to be supported in the middle which leads to ring hung curtains having to be center opening toward two sides.

You have the additional consideration that ring hung curtains on an open rod leave considerable space at the top for light to come in negating the effectiveness of the black out considerations and your stated objective to want to have the curtains seal off light at the side returns to the wall. Top sealing for light shielding can be done with a box type valance structure this hides the curtain rod assembly so there is little point to try to design the curtain support to the aesthetic of the ring hung style as you pictured in your question. And if you try to avoid the look of the box and use a double rod structure with the outer one hanging a valance it has to fit tight up to the ceiling and that would hide the other rod the curtain hangs from....so it just as well may be a ready made metal one even avoiding the the ring hung style.

  • I plan on using a dowel with a 2 inch diameter for the curtain rod. I plan on screwing a support in the middle of the dowel into the wall. On light coming through the top of the curtains, this is not a big issue because the curtain rod will be right below the ceiling - very little light will come through the top. The curtains will fall just above the floor. I understand that my set-up will not be perfect in blocking 100% of light, and I am okay with that. This answer, while submitting valid critiques of the general premise of the project, does not address, let alone answer, my question. – Fil Mar 25 '17 at 19:38
  • @Fil - Sometimes the answer to a question needs to be a response like this. Look at how it scared out additional very important details that you neglected to put into your question (rod diameter, center support and low concern about the ceiling clearance). Besides that I also think I brushed on an answer with regard to there not being things ready made. The other postings here bring very valid concerns as well. Wall attachment and separate piece to piece joining will not be a trivial exercise even for the most experienced craftsperson and reflects exactly in what is commercially available. – Michael Karas Mar 25 '17 at 21:51
  • The reason that I did not include that information is because the diameter of the rod & the presence of a support rod is not at all relevant to my question. My question is about the creation of a wood elbow. I only introduced the curtain rod for the sake of context. The question is not about the feasibility or practicality of a wooden curtain rod. If one believes that the wall attachment mechanism is relevant to my question, then I think that I should remove the mention of the curtain rod entirely from my post. We've been sidetracked from my actual question - the one in the title of the post. – Fil Mar 25 '17 at 22:07
  • @Fil - You can dream all you want but when you say "Note: I have no experience with woodworking and DIY projects like this in general." I instantly realize from my over 50 years of working with wood that what you propose is not realistically feasible. It comes out even more loud and clear when in the comments here you resist the need for alternate considerations. – Michael Karas Jul 8 '17 at 15:15
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To have reasonable strength you will either want to steambend the rod (if you know a guy, go talk to him about it - it won't bend cold), or you will want to build the rod up from cold-bent, glued (laminated) thin strips of wood (bent and glued to the curve, then shaped round.) If you "carve the corner from a board" the grain will weak no matter how you arrange it (least weak at 45 degrees, but still short-grain which will probably snap under load.)

You are also going to need an attachment method to the wall that is able to hold the rod out there - wood is not metal, and a wall attachment that will hold a metal rod out there will probably not work the same with a wooden rod. I'd guess you'll need a long metal spike welded to a wall-mount plate, going into a deep drilled hole along the axis of the rod where it meets the wall.

For either method I'd used the formed or laminated section all the way to the wall, and then join it to the long rod with either a half-lap or skew joint.

  • For this post, I just focused on the elbow, because I know how SE prefers dedicated posts for individual problems. I don't know a guy. Do you really think that, for this application, it matters that an elbow carved from a board is not particularly strong? Is a curtain that heavy, that it can snap an elbow made of hardwood? The rod will also be braced in the center. – Fil Mar 25 '17 at 19:53
  • You mentioned "bringing it to a local woodworker with a steam box" - not something you can assume is even an option unless you know of one, or are willing to become one. Yes, It matters. If you think it does not, cut a slice from the end of a board and observe how easily it snaps. That is exactly what you'd have at the lower right corner of your "carved block" as drawn. – Ecnerwal Mar 26 '17 at 0:36

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