Centerpiece – Starting the build

We bought a piece to display as the centerpiece on our dinner table a while back. Due to its size, we decided it needed a little something more to make it stand out, so I came up with an idea for a holder (rendering in images below). The design involves curving a strip of mahogany to hold the piece. In order to curve the wood, I needed to make a steam box to steam the wood for bending. Also, to make the process a bit simpler, instead of using a full 3/4″ thick piece of mahogany, I decided it would be better if I used multiple thinner strips and glue them together for a laminated piece. The pieces of mahogany needed to be 24″ long by 6″ wide by 1/4″ thick. I finally located a source for the pieces on eBay at KC Hardwoods Woodworking Products.

Below are pictures of the beginning process of making the centerpiece. To start out, I soaked the wood in some water overnight to help moisten the fibers of the wood. While that was soaking I mad a mold to form the curve of the planks. I then got my steam-box I made a couple weeks ago ready for applying the steam to the wood. I installed a short nub of pipe that allows me to connect my steamer hose to the box.

With the left over pieces of the mahogany, I glued up those pieces and clamped them in preparation for using those pieces for the leg supports of the final piece.

The next day, I hooked up the wallpaper remover steamer, filled with water, to the box and put the strips of soaked mahogany in the box and closed it up. Once the steam started flowing, I let it “cook” the wood for 20 minutes. While that was cooking, I got the glued up piece for the leg out of the clamp and cleaned it up so that it is ready to be cut down to size once the main piece is formed.

Once the mahogany had steamed adequately, I took the pieces out of the box and clamped them to the form to make the curve. No glue at this time. I just want to form the wood to the curve and then apply the glue later after the wood has had time to dry out from the soaking and the steam. I will leave the pieces in the clamps for about a week and then take them out and glue them up.

So check back soon for the update on the progress.