How to Bend Moulding

how to bend moulding

 

Occasionally, you need to get molding to bend around a fairly sharp curve. Unfortunately the molding profile that you need to match doesn’t always come in flex molding and sometimes the wood version is 1/4 inch shorter than the MDF version, and it’s really expensive to special order custom flex moulding.

 

Not to worry,  with a couple of hours and a table saw, you can create perfectly (well, perfect enough) bendy molding.

how to bend moulding

 

This is a tub surround that I wanted to wrap in bead board, put on base, and then cap with the top piece of the baseboard. It was going to be so simple, a few feet of flex molding wouldn’t cost too much and the added detail of the surround emphasizing the shape of the bathtub was going to be gorgeous!

 

how to bend moulding

 

The bead board went on, no problem. That is when I discovered that there was no flex molding or wood molding that would work. Flex molding, as the name implies, is meant to be bent, and wood moldings can be bent pretty easily if you soak them and are patient, but MDF, its not going to bend past the tiny flex you can feel.  I know, I tried!  Soaking, steam, gradual pressure, don’t believe everything you read on the internet!

 

 

how not to bend moulding

 

Not going to happen. You can have flexmolding milled to custom profiles, but that is really expensive! So I did some more research and decided that kerfing would be my best option. You can believe some of the things your read on the internet. Smile

 

how to bend moulding

The bottom portion of the baseboard is just a blank (simple rectangle no profile) so that was the easiest. I made kerf cuts every 1/4 inch that were about 1/8 in shy of cutting through to the other side. I used the blade guard as my marker and this allowed me to get really even cuts (great video tutorial if you are interested).

 

how to bend moulding

 

Adhesive, a few nails, and then caulked the top to fill the kerf voids. Things were looking up.

 

how to bend moulding

 

Now for the molding, this was a much greater challenge because the profile doesn’t allow for deep kerf cuts. I made several practice cuts until I found the depth that was as deep as possible without breaking through the profile. This added a lot of flex to the molding, and would work well for a moderate bend, but my circumference needed a lot of flex so when I applied it to the surround it broke.

 

how to bend moulding

 

Back to the table saw, this time I experimented again until I found the depth and distance I could kerf through the thickest part of the molding. Then I clamped a board to the table saw to serve as a stop. and kerfed a second set of cuts this time just through the thick part of the molding profile.

 

how to bend moulding

 

Yay it worked, at least for the most part. I did end up with a few stress fractures where the molding cracked, but since I was filling a lot of nail holes anyway, I just filled and sanded any cracks along with them.

 

how to bend moulding

 

The way that I was able to achieve really smooth results was to fill and sand all of the imperfections until I could no longer feel them (if you can feel it, you will definitely be able to see it). Then primed with a sandable primer, look closely and you will probably find more spots that need to be filled and or sanded. Repeat this process until you are happy, then paint.

 

how to bend moulding

 

So it ended up being more of a pain than I had planned, but I am really happy with the end result. It is a really lovely detail in the room.

 

how to bend moulding

Now I just need to finish installing the sink, finish the vanity and cabinets, hang mirrors and fixtures, final coat on flooring, caulk…….

 

 

 

Yes, there is still a lot to do but it’s looking gorgeous so far.  In case you want to tuck this little trick away in your future “to-do” file, here’s a cute little Pinable pic.

Feel free to share.  ;-)

how to bend moulding

 

Comments

  1. kathleen says:

    that was AWESOME! such a great tutorial to take our woodworking to the next level!

  2. Great work! Love a well finished, polished-looking, final product!

  3. very nice. You’ve discussed how to bend a moulding when the curve is convex. How would you do it if the curve was concave?

  4. Lisa Marie Gibson says:

    I went to college for carpentry/finishing and I never learned this! Very helpful. I am so glad to see another DIY Woman… :)

  5. Becky Crutcher says:

    No way! I always wondered how that was accomplished! Thanks for sharing! I have never used my husbands circular saw but I am beginning to think I can do this and get a few projects accomplished!!

  6. Lindsay Redd says:

    Love this! We had to do the same thing with a curved paneled wall we built… Except the curve was concave…. Love how yours turned out!
    Here is ours… The relief cuts…http://lindsayandandrew.blogspot.com/2012/06/trim.html
    And the final!… http://lindsayandandrew.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-install-prep-and-paint-paneled.html

  7. FABULOUS! I am a hands-on redesgner, but I ALWAYS learn something cool from you !!

  8. So cool!

  9. jb @BuildingMoxie says:

    you go Sawdust Girl. usually find what I need in a flex molding (been a while). and if working in wood you may find it a little easier “laminating” – cutting the length of the trim into narrow strips and applying it as a built up. Still a nifty little trick here. thanks for sharing.

    • If we could have used wood, the soaking or steaming would have worked but it HAD to be MDF. Or special order. I don’t know how you would laminate a decorative moulding when there is practically no material behind the profile cut. You can see it was a problem just kerfing it. That’s a good trick for flat sticks though. ;-)

  10. Wow! That’s gorgeous! You have the patience of a saint to fill and sand and fill and sand. My board and batten was more than enough for me. LOL

  11. Gina at CampClem says:

    Absolutely brilliant. I’ve always wondered and now I know: “kerfing”! Excellent!!

    • Don’t we use some funny words? Who came up with that? If I invent some new technique, I’m going to name it something AWESOME! Not sure what — but it will be totally awesome!

  12. Dee@deeconstructed.com says:

    “So it ended up being more of a pain than I had planned, but I am really happy with the end result.” Isn’t this the tagline for 99% of all DIY projects? Awesome idea and definitely something worth pinning. The bathroom is stunning – what is it about white that makes everything look high end? ~ Dee

  13. Oh this is so pretty!!!!! Thanks for the tutorial :)

  14. That is gorgeous! As always, such a great tutorial. Will you tell us about that floor at some point? Very curious…

  15. Jen in Jersey (soon to be Texas!) says:

    Thank you for sharing all the “fails” and steps along the way. I usually get discouraged when it doesn’t work right the first time and quit or call in the professionals. You, and your clients, have really encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone!