As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 160
Many readers will have met the author of Timber Bending. It is one of The Secrets of Wheelwrighting series written by Mike Hendrikson who for several years fascinated visitors to Timber & Working with Wood Shows as he demonstrated the traditional crafts involved in making wooden carriage wheels.
Browsing through the book, it's almost possible to hear Mike's voice, as if he was sitting there, surrounded by bits of wood and old machinery, chatting to us about his craft.
The grammar is a bit shaky at times, the way it often is when we talk to old friends. A few of the words are misspelled, too - ridged instead of rigid, harris instead of arris - but none of that seems to matter.
The important thing is that Mike has something to say and he sets about it quietly and methodically, making sure we understand each topic before going on to the next.
There are diversions, of course, when he tells us about this or that particular business and what they used to do, or how and where he was able to obtain a certain piece of machinery. But through it all, he keeps on track, providing us with both a history of how things were done (and why) as well as the information necessary to actually bend timber for a project, whether it be the back of a bentwood chair or a hood bow for an antique car.
The book starts with a discussion about the kinds of wood (not just the species) that are best suited to bending. The next topic is Wood Cell Softening and thatís followed by the basics of bending, before Mike plunges into teaching us about Spring Back and Setting.
After that, there are notes on a wide variety of subjects - from Legs, Curved Forms and Bending without Straps, to Straps, Stops and Handles...
There's a longish section on Hand Bending without Straps which has photos and diagrams to demonstrate the procedure. There are instructions on how to bend a semi-circle and on marking out and making Sweeps and thereís advice on handling buckling problems.
Finally, there is mention of 'coffin bending' and 'laminated bending' and a few comments on plywood and veneer.
Altogether, this is a practical book, written by a craftsman with a comprehensive knowledge of timber bending and a passion for seeing the old ways preserved. No doubt it will find readers whose interests lie in either or both these pursuits.
Photos: Black & White