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I have run into an issue that has stumped me. I have on hand some old growth mahogany from the late 50's. I have ripped into 2 mm x 5 mm strips for the planking on the wales of my ship. When I try to bend it after soaking for 3 hours it breaks on the hardest bend around the bow. Am building the 1/60 Endeavour. I have ripped it the other way based on grain but still breaks.I know this is much thicker than say .05 mm planking. I am now soaking it for one week to see what happens. My concern is if this works, it may shrink after glue up and cause a later issues with gaps in the planking. What should I do? I am thinking that because of  it's age it has lost it's essential oils and become too brittle. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

hello :)

i think you should make a jig as the curve of the bow 

then after soaking the plank use  hair dryer and carefully - slowly slowly make the curve against the jig 

best regards ,



Edited by michael101

"smooth seas do not make good sailors..."



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You need heat to loosen the lignin bonds to bend the wood.

Lignin is not affected by water.  The water is to increase the efficiency

of heat transfer into the body of the wood.  A short soak, and just enough heat

- it is not useful to burn the wood or scorch it even. 

A heat gun, a soldering iron (the old commercial bending irons were just a soldering iron

with French curve metal attachment), or of late, we have colleagues  who have done

serious bending using a generic curling iron.

NRG member 45 years



HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly


Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers


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Old wood is probably pretty brittle and  mahogany isn't known for it's bendability anyway.  What you can do build up what you need is layers by rip[ping it into thin blanks and then shaping and pre-bending each piece (layer). Make a jig to match the bend required for the bending part. Then stack the pieces together for the final bending.   Glue them together and put back on the jig to dry.

Edited by mtaylor

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
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