Bending Plywood, Forms, and a Vacuum Press

stevens woodworks building cabinet

Do you ever wonder how you can get curved cabinets that basically make you question the possibility or process of it being built in the first place? We most definitely can answer that here at Stevens Wood Works.  Many cabinets can almost the defy the logic of being built with standard tools and regular sheets of plywood.

Bending plywood, just like regular plywood, comes in different thicknesses, and is meant to take the shape of a desired object. However, you cannot just simply bend the plywood and expect it to stay in place. This is a multiple step process that may sound easy, but is tedious. Once you have determined the shape you are trying to take, some easier than others, we would have to create a form for the plywood to mold to.  Take note of the picture above. This form is to capture a half circle of a determined radius. The form needs support across the desired width, as you also notice there are “ribs” placed inside spaced a few inches apart to be able to give support across the entire length of the bending plywood. Next, attach the form to a base that would allow the bending plywood to have a straight run off, this allows for spring back. There will always be spring back, but this is one way to minimize that. Spring back is the plywood trying to return to its once, natural position, but clearly does not.cabinet from stevens woodworks

Once the form is properly built, bending plywood is stretched across the entire form to create more support for the overall product that will be produced. Take note of the second picture with the bending plywood attached and screwed down to the ribs, this ensures creating a smoother surface for your final piece of bending plywood to be pressed to.  The next step in this process is to then take your final piece of bending plywood, and apply it to the top of the form and is then strapped down, not secured with screws, and then placed inside of a vacuum press. Atmospheric pressure does all the work from there.  The vacuum removes all the air and squeezes the plywood down to the form.  After roughly 12 hours, the form is removed from the vacuum bag and everything can be released with a result of the bending plywood taking shape of the form that was created.


If you have a cabinet that you would like to have constructed of this nature and would like to have our services in helping accomplish this task, please give our custom cabinet builders in Pittsburgh, PA a call at (412) 487-4408.