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  • How to Bend Wood

    Bending wood is not the daunting task that it appears to be at first glance. Depending on the degree of bend, and whether or not the bend is compound, there are a couple of methods for bending wood.

    curves-patio-furnitureFirst, you need to have a form to bend your wood around and clamp to to hold thedesired shape. Most bent wood will have a certain degree of "springback", so you must build your form with an allowance for this. And, unfortunately, there is no established formula for determining the degree of springback that a given species of wood will produce. Springback is also influenced by the bending method used. That is to say that steamed wood will spring, or "unbend" more than wood that is laminated and glued. Another variable is the type of glue used in laminating.

    As a general rule, the tighter the bend, the more the wood will spring back, making the allowance a matter of trial and error at best.

    As laminating thin strips is the easiest method, we'll begin with that process. The finished thickness of the project will have a direct bearing on the size of the strips to be used, but generally, the heaviest strip to use is about ¼" thick. Tight bends may have to be done with 1/8" strips or thinner, depending on the wood species. Sounds like a lot of experimenting, but I'm afraid that's a necessary evil.

    bend-woodThe form required for laminating can be as simple as a piece of pipe or as complex as a multi-station die. I like to keep things as simple as possible.

    When laminating thin strips, you can minimize effort and spring back by soaking the strips before bending, and clamping them in the mold without gluing. Once they are dry, remove them from the mold, spread the glue and re-clamp them in the mold. Line the mold with waxed paper to prevent the lamination from sticking to the mold.

    When I soak strips, I do so in an open container, and depending on the wood and the size of the strips, I soak them from 15 minutes to overnight. I also mix in a half cup of fabric softener per gallon of water. I find that it softens wood nearly as well as fabric.

    If the project is small, and open time on the glue is not a factor, I'll use poly-vinyl-acetate, or aliphatic resin glue. If I need more working time, I'll use epoxy or resorcinol. I stay
    away from the quick setting epoxies, however, because they rarely harden to the extent that the slow sets do. If you're using light colored wood, resorcinol dries to a reddish color which might be objectionable on a finished project.

    When bending thin woods such as guitar sides, the wood is commonly soaked as above, but it is bent over a hot bending jig, either electric, or heated with a propane torch. Brittle woods are supported on the outside of the bend with a thin stainless steel band to help prevent cracking. Green woods can be bent much in the same way, or by heating the wood over hot coals or with a good heat gun.

    For projects where lamination is objectionable, or when the wood is to be bent in compound curves, a steam box is the answer. One can be made fairly economically from PVC pipe, but it needs to be supported to keep the pipe from deforming.

    The ends of the pipe need to be closed with a screw cap on at least one end, to allow access to the interior. Fit the other end of the pipe with a DWV reducing tee, and attach a radiator hose to the side outlet and to a new gas can large enough to hold sufficient water to last through the job. The water may be heated with a hot plate or a propane burner.

    Drill through the pipe slightly below center in two or three locations and insert dowels for the wood to rest on. Steam must be allowed to circulate freely around the wood for even penetration. A hole about ½" in diameter should be drilled in the cap furthest from the steam inlet to allow circulation. When you build the support frame for the steam box, pitch the box toward the steam inlet to allow the condensation to return to the water supply.

    Rule of thumb says that wood should be steamed fifteen minutes per inch of thickness, but here again, some experimenting will be necessary.

    The wood needs to be placed into the form as quickly as possible, because as the wood cools, it is more difficult to bend. Make sure that your wood is at least two feet longer than the finished part, because it's nearly impossible to bend a 3/4" piece of wood that is less than a foot long, so that last foot will have to be cut off after the wood is dry.

    Clamp the wood in the form securely, and leave it there until it is completely cool. If you are working with multiple pieces, place them in the steam box a approximately the interval required to place the piece in the form and clamp it, and remove them from the box in the same order.

    With a little practice and a little luck, it shouldn't take long to become proficient in wood bending. Good luck with your project, and if I can be of any help or answer any questions, feel
    free to respond to this post, or email me at .

    To get the e-book "How To Bend Wood" as well as other e-books I have written on various aspects of woodworking, click here.

    Grant Campbell. Grant has been a professional woodworker for over 50 years. He would like to pass on some of his favourite tips and techniques through his articles

  • Heating a garden building, outdoor office, summerhouse or posh shed!

    The garden building business is blooming booming!

    Thanks to technological advances aiding mobile communications and the ever-increasing costs of commuting, many of us are opting to work from home. A self-contained office in the garden provides the perfect environment to do just that.

    The downturn in the economy has also played its part in the garden building boom. Financial uncertainty has resulted in a reluctance to move house, with homeowners choosing to stay put and improve and/or extend properties. In some cases this has led to the introduction of a garden building, whether used as a garden room, summerhouse or kids’ den.Heating a garden building, outdoor office, summerhouse or posh shed

    To get the maximum use from a garden building, heating (along with light and power) is a must. If the building isn’t warm and cosy, then it won’t be used, particularly in the colder winter months. This article looks at factors to consider when it comes to heating your garden building.

    Insulation is key

    Is there adequate insulation? Some, but not all purpose-built garden rooms, are adequately insulated. If you have converted a shed or outbuilding, or opted for a lower cost garden building, then you will probably need to add insulation. Without this, the cost of heating could be prohibitively expensive.

    Add Heating

    In order for any garden building to be comfortable and useable (for more than just storage), all year round, it will need to be heated.

    So what factors should you consider when choosing heating for a garden building?

    • Heat output – when choosing any form of heating it is critical that the option you select has the capacity to adequately heat the space. If in doubt, oversize the heater, as you can always turn it down.
    • Thermostatic control – choosing a heating option with a thermostat will ensure that your garden building is heated optimally at a constant and comfortable temperature. Thermostatic controls provide efficient and cost-effective use of power; for instance, they can turn off a heater when the room has reached its optimum temperature; perfect on a sunny day for taking advantage of any “free heat” from the sun. By maintaining the temperature above a certain minimum level, you protect the contents of the building, including computers and soft furnishings, from cold or damp related damage.
    • Timer – by opting for a product with a timer, you can ensure that the heating is on when it needs to be. A timer allows you to set the heating to come on just before you start your day, ensuring a toasty office in time for when you arrive.
    • Space – by their very nature, many outbuildings are small in size. Therefore space is often a critical factor in choosing your heating option. These days, radiators are available in unusually narrow or low sizes, so there is likely to be something to accommodate even the most awkward of wall spaces. There are also floor-standing heaters, which are portable and take up no wall space.
    • Budget – it may seem obvious, but costs vary immensely on heating options for garden buildings. For instance, the price of an electric heater can range from £20 for a basic fan heater to £2000 for the ultimate designer model. Take account of installation costs as well, for example if you opt for electric underfloor heating, bear in mind that installation costs may be considerable, especially if the floor needs to be taken up to allow the electric foil mat to be fitted underneath.
    • Aesthetics – Whether your new space is for living or working, as well as being a comfortable and functional environment, you may also want to add style with an attractive looking heater; the many designs now available mean you can choose minimalism to aid focus, bright colours for inspiration or soft curves to give a relaxed feel.

    So what are the different heating options available for garden buildings?


    Water and oil filled electric radiators

    The water inside a water-filled electric radiator is heated by an electric element and is used as a heat reservoir. Oil-filled electric radiators are heated electrically; the oil is not burnt but again is used as a heat reservoir. Both types of electric radiators work on the same principle and have similar running costs.


    • Wall mounted and floor standing models available;
    • Many floor mounted versions can be plugged into a socket, so there are no installation costs and the radiators are often portable;
    • Wide range of contemporary and traditional styles available. From minimalist sleek designs like the Electric Royce (which is made of lightweight aluminium), to classic column style cast iron radiators like the Electric Etonian;
    • Many are available with timers and thermostats; and
    • Some styles heat up quickly (particularly those made of lightweight aluminium); others cool down slowly (such as those made of cast iron).


    • The wall-mounted versions don’t sit as close to the wall as some of the electric radiant panel radiators currently on the market.

    Electric radiant panel radiators 

    Electric panel radiators radiate heat (rather than convecting it) and don’t contain any liquid. These radiators have become extremely popular in recent times, due to their efficient, environmental and practical qualities. One of the best electric panel radiators around is the iRad from Feature Radiators, which is beautifully designed, slim, flat and sits close to the wall.


    • Lightweight;
    • Sits close to the wall;
    • Many sizes, finishes and colours available;
    • Heats up quickly;
    • Radiates warmth without “blowing”;
    • Warms both objects and the surrounding air;
    • Available with thermostats and timers; and
    • Precise, focused, highly efficient heating.


    • Almost always wall-mounted, so there will need to be at least some wall space available.

    Wood burners

    A wood-burning stove burns wood fuel and wood-derived biomass fuel whilst creating heat.


    • Lovely cosy feel with attractive real fire flame;
    • · Carbon neutral, if fuel comes from sustainable sources;
    • · Warms both objects and the surrounding air; and
    • · Relatively low running costs.


    • Lack of controllability, which can lead to high temperatures;
    • Sourcing and moving around fuel can be difficult and messy;
    • Demands time and effort on a daily basis to keep it running;
    • Ash created needs to be cleaned up;
    • Requires reasonable amount of space, taking up both wall and floor space; and
    • Significant installation costs.

    Fan Heaters

    A fan heater works by passing air over a heating element, this heats up the air, which then leaves the heater, warming up the surrounding room.


    • Heats up a room quickly;
    • · Warms both objects and the surrounding air;
    • · Relatively small so doesn’t take up much floor space; and
    • No installation costs.


    • As soon as its switched off, the room will cool down quickly;
    • Fan creates noise;
    • Often unattractive;
    • Uses a lot of energy resulting in high running costs; and
    • Heat is blown out rather than convected or radiated, which can create a stuffy and snoozy environment.

    Infrared heating panels

    Infrared heating panels are a relatively new idea in the UK but have been widely available in Europe for more than ten years. Infrared heaters heat through the use of infrared waves.


    • Focused heating, infrared waves only heat what they hit;
    • Provide heat rapidly;
    • Reasonably efficient to run;
    • Can be fitted onto the ceiling to keep them out of the way; and
    • Thermostats and timers available.


    • Only heat the objects that the infrared waves hit. If you sit facing an infrared heater, then the back of your body and head and any part below the heater will remain cold.
    • The surrounding air is not heated at all.
    • · Potential fire hazard – As heating is focused and direct, there may be a risk of fire if the heater is placed too close to an object. For example, if an infrared heater fell onto a wood floor.

    Electric underfloor heating

    Electric underfloor heating consists of a foil heat mat containing heating wires, which warm the floor surface which in turn heats the air above it. The foil mat must be laid under the laminate or wooden flooring intended for the garden building.


    • No wall space required;
    • Nice feeling under foot;
    • When working to an optimum, whole room is evenly heated with an ambient background temperature;
    • Many are available with thermostats and timers; and
    • Relatively low running costs.


    • May not have sufficient capacity to provide adequate heat for building – depending on level of insulation, ceiling height, and amount of glass;
    • Relatively high installation costs;
    • Insulated floor required;
    • Must be installed under the floor, so may not be a desirable option where the flooring is already down;
    • Slow to respond, can take up to 3 hours to get up to temperature, so forward planning needed and can take a long time to cool down;
    • Limits choice of floor-coverings; and
    • If it fails, the cost and inconvenience of repair will be significant, as flooring may need to be removed or replaced.

    Portable gas heaters

    Historically, a popular option for heating rooms or outbuildings particularly where there was no power source. Power is provided to these heaters via gas bottles that sit at the bottom of the heater.


    • High heat output;
    • Self contained heaters, requiring no external power source;
    • No installation charges; and
    • Portable.


    • Safety - you must not place items on top or directly in front of gas heaters. This may be a challenge if you are working in a small space;
    • Unpleasant gas odour;
    • Adequate ventilation is vital to prevent a build up of dangerous fumes;
    • Risk of carbon monoxide leak; and
    • Large bulky items taking up valuable space, both when in use and in storage.



    Whatever type of garden room heating you choose, you must ensure that it has the capacity to heat the relevant space. It is important to maximize the power used to efficiently provide heat whilst minimizing energy wastage through the use of good insulation, timers and thermostats.

    Bear in mind that these days having a comfortable warm outbuilding doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style with ugly, bulky and/or ineffective heating options. There is now a wide range of stylish, safe yet efficient electric heating solutions available.

    For more information on finding the most suitable heating product for your garden building, speak to a heating expert such as Feature Radiators. Visit their showroom where they have over 160 radiators on display and expert advice on hand, call their expert team directly on 01274 567789 or browse their electric radiator range at:

  • Good Looking Watering Can

    It is without doubt time to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Your old plastic watering can is a thing of the past. Add some style to your gardening and choose this Stainless Steel Watering Can from the Rocco range by Zack.
    Zack Rocco Watering Can
    Spending time in your garden should be fun and relaxing. Give your plants a treat with the Zack Rocco Watering Can and enjoy your green fingered activities in style. This watering can is durable, stylish and looks good enough that you could even keep it on display. There is no need to hide it away with your other gardening equipment. The watering can also makes a great gift and is available in a gift box if required. Who needs a bunch of flowers when there are unique gifts like this which will help you grow your own?

    Available now from Proleno, on the web at, on the phone on 0207 965 7199

  • Chill!

    Finally summer has arrived. As is usual in the UK we're never sure how long summer will last but for now at least the sun is up, the sky is blue and it's time to get out into the garden, enjoy sitting on the patio or hitting the beach!

    And if your tipple is wine, then you need it chilled!
    Egg-O wine cooler
    Sorted. You need an Egg-O wine cooler! Conceived and developed in Vienna, the unique feature of the Egg-O is the lid, which has flexible fins on the inner side. This allows the lid to adapt to different bottle shapes. With the handle incorporated into the cooler, there’s no need to remove the bottle for pouring – the wine keeps chilled for longer and you don’t drip condensation everywhere. The robust construction also makes this great for picnics, barbecues,days on the beach or fun with friends in the garden. The Egg-O is available in blue, green or cream.

    Available now from Proleno, on the web at, on the phone on 0207 965 7199

  • Summer In The City With Stylish Patio Furniture

    Escape the hustle and bustle of life without even having to leave your garden, with the Teardrop from Living It Up. Simply curl up and watch the clouds go by….
    teardrop garden hanging chair
    The Teardrop is an egg-shaped hanging chair with an intricate hand-woven basket, perfect for any garden, wherever, whatever the size.

    Imagine sitting comfortably cocooned in the Teardrop's basket whilst rocking gently, warmed by the summer sun. Sink yourself into the oversized cream cushion as you allow yourself to drift off. The very picture of a blissful afternoon!

    Failing that, the Teardrop's galvanized frame is designed to be resistant to the inevitable cold and wet of the British weather. Available in a choice of black or natural weave. It is quite expensive at £329 but it definitely works for me!

    More details at Living It Up.

  • Sleek Teak For Garden Chic

    Enjoy intimate chats or tete-a-tetes on the beautifully curved Banana Bench from Kingshall Furniture.
    Banana Bench Love Seat
    This solid grade A teak Love Bench will add a touch of glamour and class to any outdoor setting. Immensely tactile, it seems impossible to pass the Love Bench without touching its luscious curves! The bench boasts further curves along the backrest of the seat, giving it that extra special luxury and comfort. With its graceful sweeping curved top rail, level seat and raked back for comfort, the contemporary structure provides the perfect focal point or design solution for gardens and architectural landscape settings. While conveying an unmistakable sense of presence and longevity it is equally at home in both contemporary and traditional settings.

  • Patio Strip Tease

    With lighter nights and warmer weather on the horizon add an extra dimension to evening garden parties this summer with Edge Company’s new powder coated Strip Lanterns.
    Strip Lantern
    Available in a choice of hot pink or a rather debonair plum, these lanterns offer a fresh avant-garde feel to the garden and with the addition of a simple tealight, are guaranteed to bring the wow-factor. No matter how compact (or concrete) your outdoor space you can rely on the Strip Lanterns to bring pazzazz to the patio.

    Their purse friendly price-point makes them the ideal gift for any design-conscious friend or relative. Hand crafted from stainless steel, the lanterns are coated in a bright powder and nickel plating. Pop a little tealight inside and watch them glow!

    More details can be found at or you can call them on 01273 491391

  • Traditional Outdoor Woodburning Oven

    Warm days and evenings in the garden may not be upon us yet but already, especially after this long and cold winter, people are starting to think about their gardens and the quality time that can be spent there.

    For some authentic Italian culture in your garden, the stylish Toscana Wood Burning Oven is perfect. Add homemade pizza, Italian wine and good friends for that perfect summer party.

    Toscana Wood Burning Oven

    Toscana Wood Burning Oven

    It's not just for pizza though. As many celebrity chefs suggest, a wood burning oven can be used to great effect for roast meats, bread, tandoori and even one pot dishes. Cooking with wood-fired ovens creates irresistible tastes and aromas.

    "Wood-fired ovens are helping today's busy families to reclaim the ability to relax around the table and enjoy each other's company. Not only do they add features to the garden, they can cook any type of food and provide a focal point", Scott from retailer Garden Gift Shop tells me.

    Manufactured in the UK by Hand, The Toscana Wood Oven is sure to satisfy the most committed outdoor chef!

  • Turn Little Fingers Green with no Need for Paint or Green Spaces

    New Veg Plots Promise to get children excited about their 5-a-day! Don’t resort to paint and crayons to turn your children’s fingers and plates green this Spring Bank holiday. Let a new range of veg pots and plots get your children enthusiastically growing and eating their 5-a-day.

    Vitogrow Veg Pot

    Vitogrow Veg Pot

    Although we know that children who grow vegetables are more likely to have a positive attitude to healthy eating, few parents have the time, space or know-how for a vegetable garden – the new ‘Grow’ range of compact edible pots and plots might just be the answer.

    The children’s ‘Grow’ range of veg growing kits each include self-watering pots, seeds, plant food, a growing diary and jargon-free instructions. They give budding gardeners their own manageable vegetable plot without parents having to spend hours studying how to become green-fingered experts.

    The ‘Grow’ kits even turn fingers green by automatically feeding and watering plants. Simply keep the kit’s reservoir topped-up and plants are provided with the water they need, when they need it, preventing over-watering and under-watering - even during holidays. Children can use their ‘Grow Diary’ to record how much water has been taken from the reservoir, so they quickly learn to understand how the amount of water plants need differs according to soil dampness, plant size, light levels and weather conditions.

    Lack of green space is no problem. With ‘Grow’ kits ranging in size from a windowsill plot to a one metre long mini greenhouse, you really don’t need any green space to get your children growing and eating their 5-a-day.

    Whole meals can be grown on a couple of windowsills, with tomatoes, beetroot and chard all thriving particularly well along with the usual salad leaves and herbs. Whilst if you have a 55cm square space outside on a patio, decking or yard you can add taller and larger plants such as beans, peas, cucumbers and cabbages as well as larger tomato plants.

    As for getting your children excited about growing their own veg, what child doesn’t like sticking their hands in soil? Just in case though, the ‘Grow’ kits’ seeds and easy-to-follow growing instructions feature the incredible edibles characters. These super heroes are sure to inspire your children to grow and eat their super veg.

    The Greenhouse Sensation team is so confident that their ‘Grow’ kits enable anyone to grow their own that they offer an Incredible Edible guarantee. They promise that in the very unlikely event that a customer doesn’t raise a healthy crop they will provide free seeds and plant food as well as one-to-one advice to get them back on track.

    More detail at their website or you can call them on 0845 602 3774.

  • 600 Acres Of Windowsill Space

    ...To Join The "Grow Your Own" Revolution.

    600 acres of windowsills are ripe for transformation thanks to a new mini veg plot that turns fingers and small spaces green.


    The Windowgrow

    The clever new Windowgrow, from Greenhouse Sensation, launches in March. It has been specifically designed for use on windowsills and has a unique way of automatically feeding and watering plants that prevents over-watering and under-watering - even during holidays. Simply keep the Windowgrow’s integral reservoir topped-up and plants are provided with the water they need, when they need it.

    The space-starved amongst us can now stop throwing envious glances at those with bountiful kitchen gardens and allotments. Whole meals can be grown on a couple of windowsills, with tomatoes, chillies, beetroot and chard all thriving particularly well along with the usual salad leaves and herbs, so there’s plenty of scope for us all to reduce the carbon footprint of our diets.

    Experienced and novice fingers turn greener as a result of using the Windowgrow. The automated watering is more responsive to a plant’s needs than manual watering, it’s like standing over their plant all day adding teaspoons of water, and because ‘growers’ can see how much water has been taken from the reservoir they quickly develop a keen understanding of how the amount of water plants need differs according to soil dampness, plant size, light levels and weather conditions.

    Emma from Greenhouse Sensation explained:

    “Watering is notoriously difficult to get right and is the most common cause of many gardening problems, especially in a container like a window box. Our combination of clever automated watering, the Healthy Crops Guarantee and the Gardening Angels advice line all serve to get nervous growers started and to ensure that new and experienced grow your owners enjoy more successful harvests.”

    Even the most nervous of wannabe growers can be eating home-grown crops in as little as six weeks. Just fill the Windowgrow with compost, add the seeds or young plants and keep the integral reservoir topped-up. The lid keeps the soil warm, so seeds get off to a head start, and the water level indicator warns when the reservoir needs topping-up.

    The Greenhouse Sensation team is so confident that their Windowgrow enables anyone to grow their own that they offer an Incredible Edible guarantee. They promise that in the very unlikely event that a customer doesn’t raise a healthy crop they will provide free seeds and plant food as well as one-to-one advice to get them back on track.

    More detail at or call them on 0845 602 3774

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