Bending softwood skirting?

30 Jun 2008
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United Kingdom
Hope someone can help me out here. I have searched the boards but not found the answer to this.

My problem is I have to bend some softwood skirting around a convex (outward) corner. 12 years ago I cut the back of the board and gently slowly pushed it to the right shape. This time I have cut it again and soaked it in a paddling pool for over 2 weeks but as I am trying to bend it it threatens to split across the front face. Where am I going wrong and why isn't it working this time? My saw cuts are approximately 12-15mm deep on a 20mm thick 6" Torus board. Each cut is 3mm wide and about 7 or 8mm apart.

Thanks in advance.
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conny - nothing wrong with your method but really no need to wet the softwood. Ensure the cut are all the same depth, usually 2/3rds + the way through (usually depth is trial & error depending on timber) and maybe make them wider apart than your 7 or 8mm (say 15mm). The number of cuts and how close they are to each other is determined by how 'tight' the bend is; the 'slower' the bend = fewer cuts, tighter bend = more cuts (closer together). I reckon your threatened splits = wet wood but NOT deep enough cuts. Do it dry - usually no need to wet it.
12 years ago you more than likely purchased good quality softwood without realizing it, something like upper-gulf Swedish redwood 5ths or better. But know if you have purchased the new skirting from one of the big sheds then you have purchased a much lower quality timber 4ths or lower or even white wood. So you may be getting the problem from the quality of timber not your method.

Page 3 of one of my guides may help to explain softwood joinery grades.
"From Tree to Timber"
A guide to the different methods of converting logs into usable timber outlining the properties and yield of each. The guide includes flaws, defects and movement problems in natural timber.
Thanks for the replies lads.

So if I allow the wood to dry out naturally and then make closer/deeper cuts I may just stand a chance? It is quite a tight bend, say 4" radius at a guess. Have to do it on 2 walls and each length is around 8'.

Once again, thanks lads and will let you know how it goes in a week or two when the wood should be dried out.
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conny - I'd like to support awbcm's exclamation at your 4" radius; what's the angle between the walls? 90° and you really would be pushing the envelope for a successful bend.
Fools the lot of them, use rubber wood.

I think I may just have a little too much time on my hands at the moment
OK so I guessed at 4" radius :LOL: The walls are 90 degrees, (where do you find the degree symbol :confused: ), and if I measure from the start of the curve at one side to the end of the curve at the other side it comes out at 11" long. If I can get the batteries working on my camera I will try to post a pic or 2
You can do it with plaster to the same profile of your skirting board
Cut a paper template out last night and it is a 4" radius! :eek:

Here are 2 pics of the bends, hope these help to understand thesituation.

Lower pic shows a botched attempt to make it look reasonable. Will replace this section if I can get the bend right.

Thanks lads.
conny - clearly, it will be your intention to paint the finished skirting so take off the softwood stuff, bin it, then get some primed MDF Torus skirting. Then using our old friend the 'kerf cut' method (described above) you will be able to get around your bend. The reason is that the MDF, when kerf cut, becomes incredibly flexible and will bend very tightly without failure.

How to get a ° symbol? When you want to insert it press the follow keys on your keyboard, Alt+0176 (you don't press the + key) - keep the ALT key depressed whilst you bang in the number, then release. Use the numbers on the right of the keyboard.
Thanks symptoms, didn't know you could get skirting in MDF. Will look into it.

° Wow! How do you find out these things? :LOL:
conny - there are 100's of shortcut keys available for producing letters & symbols, including all the foreign accents. If you've got a word-processing application on you PC check out the 'insert symbol' tag on the menu bar for these charts ... tip: do a print-out of the common ones for future ref. As a starter here a few common ones (relevant to this forum):

° = Alt+0176
¼ = Alt+0188
½ = Alt+0189
¾ = Alt+0190
² = Alt+0178 (as in squared)
³ = Alt+0179 (as in cubed)

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