Bentwood-furniture as the name implies is furniture and decorative items made from bent wood. Bentwood-furniture manufacturers place pieces of wood, usually narrow strips, into a large commercial steam box and steam the timberuntil it can be bent without breaking the wo
As the steam penetrates the fibers of the wood, the timberbecomes soft and bendable. The furniture craftsman remove the steamed timberfrom the steam boxes and shape it into a series of curves, bends and twists to form a decorative chair, a timberbasket, rocking chair or even headboards or footboards for beds. Bentwood is a true art form used for shaping wood. Furniture artisans love the look of bentwood furniture as do homeowners who want the highly decorative and ornate pieces as part of the decoration and style in their home.
Home woodworkers steam their own timberusing a variety of methods ranging from home steam boxes to leaving the timberstrips under a pile of wet towels. Bending timber at home takes longer to soften the timberthan commercial steam boxes because commercial steamers emit more steam and heat than home versions.
Antiques and vintage bentwood pieces are highly collectible because they add a stylish touch to any room. Bentwood is still manufactured and still a popular choice with homeowners and home decorators, but true collectors look for antiques or vintage pieces of bentwood furniture because of the craftsmanship, eye for detail and uniqueness of each piece that can not be matched by mass produced manufacturing techniques.
In the past each piece of bentwood-furniture differed. No two chairs, baskets, tables or beds were alike, which only adds to the attractiveness and collectability of the furniture. Many bentwood chairs and benches are found with cane or rush seats that also add to the style of the furniture.
Usually bentwood furniture will have a sturdy frame with the accent pieces and decorative touches made of the steamed and bent wood. Artisans form the bentwood curves by putting the soft timberaround a form and clamping the wood in place until it dries. Once the wood dries it, it has taken on the shape of the form. Drying can be done in a large wood dryer. In the past bentwood was air dried, which many times took several weeks to complete.
Some woodworkers took bentwood furniture a step further, steamed, formed and dried twigs to make a wide variety of pieces including chandeliers, tables, chairs or desks. Bentwood twig pieces are highly unique and typically made by a craftsman rather than a larger furniture manufacturers.
Bentwood rocking chairs can still be found on many a porch or living room throughout the country. Collectors find bentwood to add to their homes at flea markets, garage sales, estate sales, auctions - both online and off -- along with grandmas attic.