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How to create Nike curled wood alphabet letters?

1756 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Brian T.
I stumbled across the below Nike alphabet made from wood strips and instantly loved the graphic nature of letters combined with the natural feel of curled up wood.

It's hard to tell if this is real or computer generated, but regardless, it seems possible with thin slats, steaming and bending.

I'm very inexperienced in wood working, but eager to learn. Any advice on how to try my hand at this? (type of wood, how to steam, bend, set, etc)



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They must have probably steamed the slivers because I can't imagine band saw or scroll sawing these out. Too much labor wouldn't you think?
Steam bent. I see half a dozen shapes so there must have been half a dozen jigs to hold the wood for cooling & drying. The far greater puzzle will be the elegant planning of the layout.
Water in wood is in two places: free water in the open volumes of the cells and 'bound' water which is stuck to the cellulose and other wood molecules. Air-dried, under cover, outdoors, wood dried down to an equilibrium moisture content of 12-14 % is OK.
You need a steam generator connected to a steam chest where the wood is. This coming summer, I'll build one= 20lb propane tank with no valve, 1/3 full of water and heated with the burner from my big lobster pot.
That goes directly into a hole in a plywood "coffin" for a steam chest. . . . I won't put a latch on the box lid, that will do for ventilation.I want to try to make kerf-bent boxes from 1" WRC. I can cut a joint in less than 20 minutes (10+ different geometries). but so far, I'm too impatient with the steam heating.
Steam Bending Theory: steam is hot (duh!) and it is that heat which heats the bound water in the wood.
That heat also 'plasticizes', softens, the non-fibrous wood chemicals. The wood is like soft plastic. Test a piece from time to time, may take a couple of hours. Out of the box and into the jig to cool down and set (overnight?) as it dries.
Your picture: Possibly oak of some sort. Judging by the way that the grain pattern flows from one strip into the next in the bottom 12+(?), must have been some wide board!
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