View Full Version : Bending Utile

Rational Root
01-29-2010, 11:58 AM
I'm planning my coaming, it will be made of 1/2" Net x 3" wood. Possibly Utile.

I wanted to bend it approx 18"-24" radius, but apparently it does not bend well.

I have no idea what "well" is.

Anyone any thoughts on this? Can I bend 1/2" Utile around a 24" radius?



01-29-2010, 01:28 PM
The terms "good, moderate, bad" in steam bending don't just refer to whether the wood can withstand the initial bending, but also how much the wood will spring back after the clamps are released. I frequently bend 1/2" black walnut to 2" radius' and if I let them dry in that clamped position for a few days, there is almost no spring back. That is a "good" bending wood. Just the other day I bent a 9/16" garboard plank of Atlantic white cedar. It was the first time I had tried to bend this kind of wood, but it is known to be "bad" as a bending wood. I managed to get the bend without breaking it, but after three days of clamping, the board sprang back considerably. I did compensate for this spring back, but even then it sprung back further than I had anticipated.

I have bent African mahogany before and the spring-back is also quite considerable. You will probably be OK with that kind of radius if you used a backing strap and wooden form to bend round.

Rational Root
01-29-2010, 03:12 PM
It is for a coaming, it will have a nice solid oak frame to sit against, so if it bends, it's not going to spring back anywhere 8-)

It's weather it bends without going snap that worries me.


01-29-2010, 03:45 PM
I don't know the wood you mention but I had problems bending douglas fir for the coaming on the boat I'm building.

The best solution is to pre-bend, but I note that some sources say utile doesn't rate too well for steam bending.

In the end 4 strips broke per coaming for my boat, so expect a high attrition rate.

01-29-2010, 04:09 PM
Yes, Douglas fir is also a really bad choice for steam bending.

Utile is an African Mahogany.

John Meachen
01-29-2010, 04:36 PM
I haven't seen a piece of utile in years.It always seemed to have twisting grain and I would need to be very sure that none of it was short grained before trying to bend it either with or without steam.If it could be done the colour would be nice under varnish.