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An splendid challenge for studying easy methods to make a bent lamination.

A Mouse wants a pleasant house too, doesn’t it? At least, that’s what a good friend had in thoughts when she requested me to design a bit of home to cowl a mouse-chewed gap in her baseboard. She needed to show a lemon into lemonade, I suppose.

The challenge turned out so effectively that I’ve made extra as items. The story of how the mouse home got here to be goes with the present, too, and at all times makes individuals snigger.

As far because the woodworking goes, although, it is a critical challenge. Using few supplies, it’s an affordable solution to study the basics of constructing a bent lamination (a curved half that’s constructed up from skinny layers of wooden). With this talent in hand, you possibly can design and construct a lot bigger and extra bold curved furnishings.

To construct the mouse home, you’ll have to make a hot-pipe bending jig. You’ll additionally want a vacuum bag, which you should purchase or make your self. Cheese is non-compulsory.

Make a bending type

The exterior of the mouse home, which I’ll name the arch, consists of 4 layers of 1/16″ thick veneer glued collectively. To make the arch, you’ll want a type to bend the veneer to the right form. Let’s begin by constructing the shape.

1. The exterior of the mouse home is comprised of 4 layers of 1/16″ thick veneer, glued and bent over a type. Begin making the shape by sawing out a template. Nail the template to a second piece of three/4″ MDF, barely outsized.

First, make a full-size drawing of the arch (Fig. D), or obtain the drawing from the AW web site and print it out. Cut an oblong piece of 1/4″ MDF or plywood the identical width and size because the sample. Glue the sample to the wooden. Cut the curved portion with a scroll noticed or coping noticed, making a template (Photo 1). Smooth the curve with a file or sandpaper.

2. Rout the second piece flush with the template. Add one other piece of MDF and repeat the method. Keep on including items, one by one, till the shape is Eight layers thick.

To construct up the bending type, minimize seven items of three/4″ MDF or plywood 1/8″ longer and wider than the template. Glue and nail the template to considered one of these items with a good overhang all spherical. (You’ll be chopping into this block later, so don’t put any fasteners within the “No Nail Zone”—see Fig. E). Using a flush trim bit in a router desk, rout the three/4″ piece so it’s even with the template on all sides (Photo 2). Repeat the identical course of with 4 extra 3/4″ items, gluing, fastening and routing them one by one.

The process for attaching the final two 3/4″ items is a bit totally different. Glue one piece on high of the 1/4″ template, then glue the opposite on high of the three/4″ items. Don’t use any fasteners for both of those items. Rout each items flush. Cover your complete block with large packing tape so glue gained’t persist with it.

Bend the arch

3. Set up a jig to pre-bend the veneer. The jig is principally a chunk of metal pipe that’s heated by a propane torch. Soak the veneer items in water earlier than bending them on the jig.

At 1/16″ thick, the veneer you’ll be utilizing to make the arch is simply too stiff to bend across the type. This drawback has a intelligent resolution: a hot-pipe bending jig (Photo 3 and Fig. B).  Using this gadget, you’ll bend every bit of veneer right into a U-shape earlier than gluing them collectively on the shape. Heat utilized to moist wooden does the trick, in a lot the identical approach that steam lets you bend thicker items of wooden right into a everlasting curve.

Cut the arch items (A) to tough measurement (see chopping record, close to backside). Soak them in water for about 15 minutes earlier than bending. Secure the jig in a  vise or clamp it to the benchtop. Light the torch, modify the flame to low and safe the torch in its cradle. The nozzle ought to lengthen 1″ or so contained in the pipe. After a couple of minutes, dribble some water on the pipe. If the droplets boil in place, the pipe isn’t scorching sufficient; when the droplets skitter off, you’re good to bend. 

4. Place every bit of veneer onto the pipe and slowly bend the wooden right into a curve. Back up the veneer with a chunk of sheet steel to lure steam coming off the moist wooden. After cooling, the wooden will retain its bent form.

The bending method is pretty easy (Photo 4). Be positive to maintain the wooden transferring to keep away from scorching. Remove the piece from time to time and place it again within the water for a number of seconds to re-wet it. Keep the bending type helpful so you possibly can eyeball the radius you want. The items don’t must match the shape completely—shut is nice sufficient. When you’re completed with every bit, place it on edge to dry. Let all of the items cool for a number of hours.

5. Coat the items of veneer with glue and place them on high of the bending type. Tape them to the shape so that they gained’t slide round, then wrap the entire meeting in plastic.

You’ll use a vacuum bag to additional bend the veneers to match the shape. Getting every little thing prepared to slip into the bag takes a couple of minutes, so I exploit Pro-Glue Veneer Bond, which has an extended open time. To begin, place the shape on a big piece of clear plastic sheeting. Coat the items with glue utilizing a large plastic putty knife and stack them on the shape (Photo 5).

6. Compress and bend the veneer by utilizing a vacuum bag. Once all of the air is faraway from contained in the bag by a pump, regular air strain will squeeze the bag and the veneer tight across the type, making a stiff arch.

Tape the items to the shape so that they don’t shift. Wrap the shape within the plastic sheet and safe it with tape. (The sheet prevents glue from adhering to the vacuum bag.) Place the shape within the vacuum bag and activate the compressor (Photo 6). Leave the shape within the bag in a single day to offer the glue time to remedy.

Remove the shape, unwrap the plastic and take away the tape. Center the arch on the shape, if vital, and nail it to the shape alongside the underside edges of each side.

Build the home

7. Rip the back and front of the shape utilizing your bandsaw, geared up with a fence. This is the best and most secure solution to minimize the home’s arch to width.

Rip each side of the shape to chop the arch to remaining width (Photo 7). (You should use a bandsaw—this isn’t a protected operation on the tablesaw.) Clamp the shape to the fence of a miter noticed and minimize the arch to remaining size (Photo 8). Remove the arch from the shape. Sand contained in the arch (a spindle sander works effectively) to take away any glue that has seeped via.

8. Crosscut the shape to size. After this minimize, take away the arch from the shape.

On the router desk, minimize a 1/16″ deep rabbet contained in the ends of the arch (Photo 9). To do that, I substitute the bearing on the tip of my flush trim bit with one which’s 1/8″ smaller in diameter, however you may also use a rabbeting bit, which normally comes with a set of bearings for making rabbets of various depths. Cut the same rabbet all the way in which across the inside again of the arch.

9. Rout shallow rabbets on the underside and again facet of the arch.

Next, put together inventory for the underside (B), again (C) and door (D). You could make these items from stable wooden or, to ensure that their grain and colour matches the arch, laminate them from further items of 1/16″ veneer.

10. Glue a backside to the rabbets.

Cut the underside piece to width and size (word that the grain goes from entrance to again). Stand the piece upright, clamp it to a big block and minimize a rabbet on its again finish. Glue the underside to the arch (Photo 10).

Cut the again piece about half″ oversize in width and size. Place the home on high of the again and hint round contained in the rabbets. Cut the curve and match the again to the home, however don’t glue it in but.

Mouse House Cut List

Overall Dimensions:  6-5/16″ H x 5″ W x 4-1/4″ D





Th x W x L





1/4″ x 4-1/4″ x 6-5/16″ tall (a)




Solid wooden

1/4″ x 4-5/8″ x 4-1/4″




Solid wooden

1/4″ x 4-5/8″ x 5-15/16″




Solid wooden

3/8″ x 4-3/4″ x 5-3/4″




Solid wooden

1/4″ x 1/4″ x 4-1/2″


Hinge pin


1/8″ rod

1/8″ dia. x 2-3/8″

a) The arch is glued up from Four items of 1/16″ x 5″ x 20″ veneer.

Fig. A) Exploded View

Fig. B) Hot Pipe Bending Jig

Fig. C) Door Pattern

Fig. D) Bending Form Pattern

Fig. E) Bending Form

Fig. F) Door Detail

Make the door

Cut an oblong clean for the door—make it actual width and about half″ additional lengthy. Mark its entrance face. Place the home on the door and hint across the arch. Next, utilizing a sq. and a marking gauge, lay out the hinges on the facet of the door (Fig. C). Cut out the hinges, utilizing a fine-toothed handsaw for the crosscuts and a fret noticed or coping noticed for the rip cuts.

11. Make the door from a single piece of wooden. Carve the panels with a V-gouge and minimize out the home windows on a scroll noticed.

Saw the door’s curve. Draw the door’s panels and home windows straight on the door, or obtain the sample from the AW web site, print out a duplicate and glue it to the door. Carve the panels (Photo 11) and noticed out the home windows. Fit the door, then glue on the again piece.

12. Trace across the door’s hinges with a knife.

Place the door on the home and hint across the hinges with a marking knife (Photo 12). Saw out notches for the hinges (Photo 13). Place the door within the notches and drill a 1/8″ dia. gap for the hinge pin (F). This gap should be plumb for the door to swing correctly, so it’s greatest to make use of a drill press, with the home clamped to a fence.

13. Saw out notches for the hinges. Make positive the door suits OK, then spherical over the ends of the hinges, so the door can rotate. Round over the entrance of the arch, as effectively.

Round over the entrance of the home’s arch with sandpaper or, on the router desk, with a 1/8″ roundover bit. Make the same roundover on the ends of the door hinges. On the within of the door, carve a bevel across the hinges (Fig. F). To check how the door swings, minimize a 1/8″ rod about 2″ additional lengthy, coat it with wax and insert it within the hinge pin gap (Photo 14). (The rod’s additional size allows you to pull out the rod and take away the door for additional becoming).

14. Drill a gap via the hinges and insert a 1/8″ rod into the outlet. Open the door and host an open home for a mouse!

Once the door swings appropriately, glue the cease (E) in place. Cut the hinge pin to remaining size and completely grasp the door. Finish the home with a wiping oil, then add a knob to the door.   

This article initially appeared in American Woodworker #158

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