Wood-bending – Here Are 30 Ways Other People Do It
There are three main methods I've used to bend wood in the past. The trick is to get the wood pliable enough so that it will bend. Then to bend the wood and hold the wood in the shape you want and allow the wood to become un-pliable again.
The most common method is to steam the wood pieces to make them soft and pliable, then bend and clamp the the piece or pieces around a form. The form may be built with some over bend to it to account for some spring-back of the wood once it has dried and the clamps are released.
A steam box is required to steam the wood. This could be as simple as a large plumbing pipe and an electric kettle to provide the steam. Or something much larger with some kind of commercial steam generating equipment.
A second method is to use heat. Hot wood will bend and once cooled maintain it's shape. This method is commonly used with thin pieces of wood. Musical instrument makers use this method a lot.
A third method used is to glue a number of thin strips of wood together into the shape wanted. I've used this method when building a canoe.
Of course, you can combine these methods as well.
The video below is a compilation of a number of video clips showing how professionals bend wood for various projects.