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How to Create a Bending Form for a Table

A template and bending form are created for the Kitchen Cafe Table.

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create bending form for a table

Step 1: Make a Bending Form

The first step in building a café table like this one is to make the bending form for the legs. Make a template for the design of the legs of the table. Use spray adhesive to mount the drawing onto a piece of MDF. Drill some dowel holes and rough it out on the band saw.

Take the template to the drill press, stack it on top of three pieces of MDF that will be used to create the bending form, and make pilot holes.

make template for design of table legs

Step 2: Rough Cut the Template

Use the band saw to rough cut the template (Image 1), making sure to guide the blade in a fluid motion.

Note: If you don't have a band saw you can use a jigsaw to cut out the shape for the bending form.

Smooth out these rough edges and inconsistencies with a disc sander. (This is the perfect tool because of the high speed abrasive pad and the flat backing surface.) Run the form against medium grit paper on the disc sander (Image 2), applying light pressure. Make sure to clean right up to the pencil line.

Note: If you don't have a disc sander, hand sanding and filing will work fine.

Step 3: Insert Dowels in the Drilled Holes

With the edges cleaned, insert dowels through the pilot holes that were drilled in the template. Use the template as a guide and trace the shape onto the blanks. Repeat the process for the remaining pieces of the bending form.

insert dowels in drilled holes

Step 4: Rough Cut the Components

Rough cut all the components for the bending form to size on the band saw. Cut the pieces about 1/8" proud. Note: Proud just means to cut a little oversized. Attach the roughed out piece to the template and clean up the edges using a flush trim router bit.

The trimmer bit has a bearing on the top that follows the template and cuts off the unwanted material. Continue to clean up the remaining pieces for the bending form.

rough cut components

Step 5: Hammer the Dowels and Drill the Pilot Holes

With all the pieces rough cut for the form, hammer the dowels in place to help ensure proper alignment. Add yellow glue to the master template and attach one of the pieces for the form so it sits flush.

Drill the pilot holes. For extra stability, screw the pieces together. To join the remaining components to construct the bending form, repeat the process.

Cover the edge with a piece of thin cork sheeting so that when you clamp up the thin pieces of ash, it absorbs any inconsistencies in the clamping pressure so you will have nice uniform curves. Note: Cork sheeting is sold at craft stores.

cover edge with a piece of thin cork sheeting

Step 6: Construct the Bending Form

To get started, apply the spray adhesive to the bending form and to the backside of the cork sheeting. Attach the cork to the form and flatten it in place. Trim the cork so it sits flush with the template. Cover the cork with packing tape so that when you glue up the lamination, the legs don't stick to the bending form.