Achieving Complex Curves With Engineered Wood Products

February 10, 2021

Architects love to incorporate curved wood surfaces into their designs because they create motion and show off the beauty of the wood grain in a way that straight lines can’t. The good news is that it’s a lot easier to achieve complex curves than it used to be. Today’s engineered wood products offer distinct advantages over the traditional plywood of yesterday providing you more freedom and fewer obstacles.

Achieving Early Complex Curves

If you see a complex curved wood facade in an old building -show some respect!

For example, a simple piece of waterfall furniture from the art deco 1930s-1940s required quite a bit of skill and time.

In order to achieve this look, millworkers or carpenters had to carefully cut or kerf the boards and/or apply steam moisture to allow them to bend. This was a slow, painstaking process with varied results …and a lot of broken boards.

The Dawn Of Traditional Bendable Plywood

About sixty years ago bendable wood products were introduced. Traditional bendable plywood is comprised of three layers of luan plywood oriented so that the top and bottom layer’s grains go in one direction and the middle layer’s grain goes in the opposite direction. This is what makes it bendable.

Regular bendable plywood came with a few advantages over self-kerfing the wood as they did back in the day:

  • Ability to achieve complex or simple curves
  • Fairly inexpensive
  • Readily available – most cabinet suppliers had it

But it did come with a few downsides:

  • Occasional failure rate /had to fill or Bondo seams
  • Quality varies greatly
  • A lot of irregularities in the wood

If you were lucky enough to get a hold of a decent bendable wood product, you still had to trust your cabinet maker to finesse it to get the desired bend radius. That labor added considerable time and cost to the project and did not always achieve the desired results.

Next-Generation Engineered Bendable Wood Products

Today’s engineered wood products, such as Kerfkore, offer the benefits of bendable plywood but without the additional time and labor to achieve those complex curves.

In fact, Kerfkore products offer all of the following benefits over traditional bendable plywood:

  • Saves time and money because it decreases labor costs/steps
  • Requires little to no sanding, patching, or use of putty/Bondo
  • Easily attaches to high-pressure laminates, veneers, metals, leathers, and other semirigid materials
  • Can achieve Maximum Bending Radius from 3.5″ – 10″
  • Lower failure rate
  • Low maintenance, no special care needed

How Are Engineered Bendable Wood Products Being Used?

Because of their flexibility and low cost, modern bendable wood products are being used creatively and in many different ways:

  • Ceiling panels
  • Receptions Desks
  • Office walls

In fact, we’ve worked on some really exciting projects recently that involved extremely small bend radius’.

Are Engineered Wood Products Right For My Next Project?

Engineered wood products are a solid choice for any project that requires:

  • Complex curves – especially with a tight bend radius
  • Lots of options for size, finish, and Sustainable options
  • High-quality materials for high-visibility areas
  • Consistent look/results
  • Tight adherence to budget guidelines

If you’re feeling inspired to use complex curves, we can help you find the right products to balance your budget with your vision.

Your Next Steps:

  • Learn more about innovations in bendable wood panels by visiting our Kerfkore product page.
  • Get answers to commonly-asked questions by visiting our FAQs page.
  • See all of our products, Kerfkore, Timberflex, Econokore, and Flexboard in-situ by visiting our gallery page.
  • Request a sample of our flexible and lightweight panel options.