In answer to several requests from members for a program on how to “bend wood,” we have a real treat in store for our October 10 meeting. Michael Fortune, one of today’s acknowledged masters in the woodworking field of craft/art furniture, will be doing a virtual program for us on the basics of steam bending wood as it relates to furniture making.
Many of you are probably already aware of Michael’s long contribution to the craft that we all love so much, but please take a few minutes to read Michael’s bio and his Artist’s Statement, both of which will give you some insight into the breadth of his body of work. For a deeper dive into Michael’s contributions to all of us, take a look at some of his articles.
For some real inspiration, please go to the home page of his website and then click thru on the categories (tables, seating, cabinets, boardroom tables, beds, public installations) for fabulous photos and descriptions of some of his work (see if you can see where he might have used steam bending!)
Through discussion, photos/video, demonstration (lots of steam!), and Q&A, Michael’s program will cover the tools, techniques, and methods he uses to steam-bend wooden components for his beautiful designs, as well as some finished parts and various shapes that he has bent for projects. You’ll see enough live-action to whet your appetite for this transformative technique, but if you want to “read ahead,” Michael has previously written a manual that is offered as a free PDF download from Lee Valley (LeeValley.com). If you go to the Lee Valley website and search on steam bending, you’ll find the strap clamping system that Michael designed for them, which is at the heart of his “system” for bending wood.
I’ve had the good fortune to witness one of Michael’s steam-bending demos at a Furniture Society conference years ago, and his methodology makes steam-bending accessible to any of us. It’s a fun process to watch as he seemingly effortlessly bends impossibly-thick pieces of wood as if they were, well, soft! Please join us for this opportunity to watch an expert craftsman at work! — Bill James
One of Michael’s current projects is a set of twelve newly-designed chairs with coopered seats/backs and steam-bent legs, to go with the table which he previously built which has a steam-bent base. See photos below:
About the Presenter
Since his career began 33 years ago, Fortune has become acclaimed for his innovative, but resolved, designs for one-of-a-kind objects in wood, commissioned residential furnishings and items in limited editions. His work has brought him an international clientele and reputation. He is acknowledged for both his technical and design expertise, giving lectures and workshops across Canada and the United States. His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide.