I am trying to achieve this curved wood look as pictured below. I am interested in knowing what tools I need or if I need a particular kind of wood. (I am referring to the white curved section)

enter image description here

  • it's often just segmented (multiple pieces) and glued – ratchet freak Feb 22 '15 at 21:54
  • Thank you ratchet freak. How is each piece bent to achieve the curved look? – James Alexander Feb 22 '15 at 21:59
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    it isn't; it's cut with a curve. the individual pieces are straight. – ratchet freak Feb 22 '15 at 22:05
  • Gotcha. So what would you recommend using to cut it? Jigsaw? Also, wouldn't it have to be a pretty thick piece of wood? I doubt you can use a piece of 1x8 pine board – James Alexander Feb 22 '15 at 22:19
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    for the white painted parts, vinyl trim has a useful lack of stiffness. – Ecnerwal Feb 22 '15 at 23:42

That is a very expensive podium, probably has a cost in the 20K range. You can do laminated wood and then cut into the curve (very expensive as it takes a large amount of high quality wood) or you can try some cheaper options using plywood.

If you only need to do a slight curve, thin plywood has a lot of flex in it. Just nail/screw it onto a frame. If you need a tighter curve than what the plywood will allow there are a couple of options. If only one face will show, you can in essence thin the plywood further by using kerfs. Look up a guide on google and find one you are comfortable with. Another option is using steam to soften the glue in the plywood which then will allow a tighter bend.

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  • That's a very good idea. I never thought of that. Thanks for the helpful info. I have tried to think of something for weeks. The plywood seems like it is the best option. A co-worker of mine suggested synboard ("PVC board") since it is flexible, but this option seems more structural – James Alexander Feb 22 '15 at 23:48
  • @diceless Is "kefs" a typo for "kerfs"? I would definitively use a kerf bending/cutting technique for this with a miter saw or table saw. – Maxime Morin Feb 23 '15 at 2:41
  • @MaximeMorin - thank you, just fixed the typo. – diceless Feb 23 '15 at 3:16
  • You're going to have problems cutting kerfs with a miter saw. A table saw, radial arm saw, or circular saw would work though. – Doresoom Feb 24 '15 at 15:10

There's a fair amount of detail work there, but I don't see anything hugely difficult.

Curves: others have mentioned the standard approaches, eithr build up a blank from segments and then cut to shape or use wood-bending techniques. Correction yo my first thought: flat painted ring with bent/stained/varnished molding would achieve most of the effect at less cost. The columns are stacked blocks at bottom and top with an octagonal "barrel" glue-up between them, 22.5 degree miters, pared round and with coves cut into appropriate pieces.

Plus the platform and lectern surface and similar details...

Making it look good will take care and patience and some skill and time. At least it's mostly painted; paint can hide many sins.

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  • What would be the best way to bend the wood properly? – James Alexander Feb 22 '15 at 23:52
  • I'd probably go with bending plywood, with appropriate supports behind it since it isn't structural. – keshlam Feb 22 '15 at 23:55
  • Thanks for the help. I've done a few podiums, but nothing as involved as this. Also would you recommend a jigsaw or a band saw to cut the rounded area above the white section? – James Alexander Feb 23 '15 at 0:04
  • @JamesAlexander - Personally I would use a jigsaw because of the size of the material I would have to work with. Unless you have a bandsaw with a large work area you will probably find it easier to move the saw than the material. – diceless Feb 23 '15 at 3:20

I don't know where you live, but in large areas there will be a plywood supplier and he almost certainly has pre-kerfed MDF and such.

enter image description here

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When you set out to make curved sections by bending thin flexible material (whether that be plywood or kerf cut solid wood) it is almost essential that you pre-make a form to bend around and allow for clamping of the material. This form can be made using low cost 1/2 inch plywood cut in the flat with the edge fitted to the inside dimension of the target piece.

Multiple patterns are cut all the same shape/size and stacked and fastened to low cost 2x4 lumber sandwiched in between the layers. The 2x4 lumber is kept in from the edge so it does not need to be contoured. Create the stack thickness up toward the width of your curved piece.

Then you can glue up layers of the flexible material one by one as they are fitted and clamped to the form.

If you build up a reasonable thickness of the curved pieces that go around the podium top (or I see one at the base too) you do not need to make them all in one piece. Multiple parts can be joined end to end. One joinery scheme could even use counter top clamp bolt assemblies to cinch the parts together although that would work far better in laminated plywood layers than it would with kerf cut layers.

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