Bending Timber

Many years ago (I can say that now, being 5 or so years ago!), I wrote a post about bending timber using kerfing. To this day, it remains one of the most clicked-on posts of all time. It would certainly justify a revisit, and expansion to the original post.

Out in the shed today, I was using the Amana Tool Tambour Bit set to make a large tambour door for the toy kitchen (and the full article about the construction will be in the next edition of ManSpace magazine). When I had finished it, and assembled all the slats, it was surprising to see just how flexible the interlocking slats were. It made me think of kerfing, with a different surface texture (obviously). (The bit set is available from

If flexibility was not the desired end result, but the forms that could be created during assembly, this could produce some really organic structures – lounge chairs, curves around structures etc. Although (like kerfing) there are some inherent weak areas, (which don’t compromise the structure if used for a roller door but would if used for a deck chair), these could be easily overcome with good glue, and supporting structure, allowing the form of the tambour, with the strength required for the alternate purpose.

Tambour Door

Tambour Door

So there is the teaser. The full door (and in this case, it will be a door for the toy kitchen), is 450mm wide and around 750mm in length, and is made up of 52 individual slats that require no joiners, no backing tape or canvas: just pure, interlocking timber slats. Total distance of timber passing through the various machines in getting it sized correctly, then shaped by the router table was around 1/2 a km. Not relevant, just interesting!

ElectroBlu is the new Blue

The double-sided melamine blade from Amana Tool, and sold through

It is seriously…

Amana Tool Melamine Blade

Quite a stunning looking blade, but we will get to its looks later.  Function is much more important than looks!  Good thing this blade has both 🙂

The blade is an 80 tooth, 10″ (250mm), with a 5/8″ bore.  That is what suits my saw, they also have 30mm bore, and sizes from 200 – 400mm diameter.

It has 4 straight expansion slots to minimise heat distortion, with copper plugs.  The copper plugs are used as a vibration absorption, and to block up the holes at the end of the expansion slots – both of which in turn decreases operational noise.  The holes themselves are used as a crack-arrestor as they reduce the stress at the end of each slot.

The straighter the blade, (in how it is manufactured, in how accurate the teeth are ground, and the less warping/distortion caused by heat), the better the cut.  This combined with a tooth profile especially designed for melamine results is a remarkable cut.

Clean cut

The edge, on both sides of the melamine, is as clean in closeup as it appears in the above-photo.  It is a beautiful cut, and that aptly demonstrates the quality of the blade.  Getting this sort of result on both the top and underside of the cut is remarkable, and takes a special blade to achieve this.

Crosscut Pine

The blade is also very good for crosscutting, whether that be soft or hardwood.  The finish is near shiny, and showed negligible to no breakout of fibres at the back of the cut.

Crosscut Hardwood

Ripping was harder – being an 80 tooth blade there is only a small gullet between teeth, and where that is fine for crosscutting, is insufficient for clearing waste and the long fibres created during a rip cut.  It is still achievable, but you have to cut slow (risking burning the timber, overheating and distortion in the blade).  Even so, a shiny cut was the result!  Good enough to go straight to a finish, or one final light sand.

Hardwood Rip

But why is it blue?
The blade is finished with a new process, called electro-bluing. It is a smooth coating for the blade, replacing the teflon-like finishes of other blades.  It has only been available since September 2012!  This micron-thin coating is claimed to reduce heat buildup, and the accumulation of resin.  The coating includes the teeth of the blade.  It will be very interesting to see how durable the coating is!

It is also promoted as being an environmentally friendly coating.  If that is a feature you need, this blade (and this coating) offers that, which differs from many other, more traditional coatings.
So this is the MB10800.  A double-sided melamine blade which really cuts the mustard! From

Microscopic Anatomy of Hardwood

I was sent this link recently by someone I gather is one of the researchers on this project (saw their byline on some of the microscopic photos).  It is significantly more detailed than ever needed for woodworking (microscopic photos of over 5000 hardwoods), but I thought I’d post it anyway – might be of benefit to someone.

Some people sure do some serious research into timbers!

Timber of-the-Month: Brown Mallee Burl

Timber of-the-Month: Brown Mallee – Eucalyptus Dumosa (?)

The inaugural timber of-the-month from Brad’s Burls is a piece of Brown Mallee Burl, which looks very interesting in it’s as-cut state, and stunning when given a quick sand and oil (let alone any serious finishing).

Brown Mallee Burl as-cut

Brown Mallee Burl as-cut

There is always a lot of tortured, gnarly grain in a burl which always leads to some very striking patterns.  The edge of the burl has a much lighter shade which will make for an awesome natural-edged object.  In this case, I am considering turning it into a dual lidded box, with the edge of the burl actually meeting at the centreline.

Edge of Burl

Edge of Burl

This piece was approximately 400mm x 400mm x 10mm, costing $33.

Once sanded, some checking near the centre became apparent, and the piece has a slight warp which can be flattened out by storing the piece with some weight resting on it.  (Typical of a burl which has been bought from a NSW to Victorian climate – it needs to acclimatise to the local conditions, and allowing it to do so is a critical step.  The process of acclimatisation will take a few weeks, and it is better to allow it to happen now, than to have it happen uncontrolled in the box or whatever you’ve made from it!)

Sanded to 1200 Grit

Sanded to 1200 Grit

Sanding very quickly revealed more of the character in the timber, and even at the lower grits a sheen was quickly produced.  I continued sanding up to 1200 grit, using a ROS (random orbital sander).  There was a surprisingly little amount of dust produced, and no particular smell to note.

Lightly Oiled piece

Lightly Oiled piece

Next, a light oil was applied (Triton in this case), which really revealed the rich, warm mid brown/orange tone.

Centre Portion, Oiled

Centre Portion, Oiled

The centre area of the burl is also worth noting, and shows a very interesting character.

Closeup of Centre Region

Closeup of Centre Region

Getting in very close, and the texture becomes quite fascinating, with a real 3D effect to the surface – this still looks and feels smooth to the touch, but I spent a long time just looking at the macrostructure that is revealed here.

(Macrostructure – a term I’ve nicked from metallurgy, which is used to describe the general crystalline structure of a metal and the distribution of impurities seen on a polished or etched surface by either the naked eye or under low magnification of less than x10.  Seemed quite appropriate here as well).

So a very promising material, and one that will make a great inlay box lid or similar (once I have the confidence to actually cut into it!)

Thanks to Brad’s Burls, and hopefully this will become a useful photo-resource as the list of timbers covered grows (pun intended!)

Brad's Burls

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