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Steambent wood

Individual radii and shapes

Wagnerhandwerk is an old handcraft that is steeped in tradition. In this former speciality discipline of the guild, wood is bent using the power of steam. Steam bent wood is particularly well known in Switzerland thanks to the traditional Davoser sledges. The runners of these popular sledges are made of ash wood and have always been steam-bent using this tried-and-tested technique. Today, very few craftsmen still practice the fine art of steam bending.

For a long time forgotten, steam-bent wood is once again increasingly in demand. BURRI has been pursuing the technique for many years and offers a range of benches with steam-bent slatting. This kind of slatting is superior to the layer-glued alternative – not only with respect to their gorgeous appearance, but also thanks to the equally outstanding material properties that are otherwise only found in wood that is unchanged in form.

BURRI round and curved benches are available in practically any desired form and geometry. The limits of the process are defined only by the respective type of wood and the required cross section. In general, however, bending radii of 70 cm and lengths of up to 2 metres are possible. BURRI benches are characterised by consistently knotless and high quality, locally grown wood. The slats are thus of impeccable quality even after the steam bending.

Quality takes time. Because the slats require individual bending with a great deal of manual dexterity, the production of a special round or bow bench takes a little longer than a conventional bench. As a result, it is necessary to schedule 12 to 14 weeks delivery time for the high-quality craft product. The planning is carried out entirely in 3D, and a template is prepared in advance to create the desired forms and radii. When steaming the wood, the adhesive lignin in the wood becomes soft, allowing the wood to be bent around the template. The wood is then allowed to dry. When bent, the lignin hardens once again and the curved form remains in place without any tension. The wood is given its refined appearance through planing and grooving, after which it is ready to be bolted on to the hot-dip galvanized bench frame.

Optionally, the surfaces can receive a final finish with pigmented oil, which protects the natural wood against excessive moisture in the event of rain and delays the natural greying of the wood. The oil treatment can be straightforwardly reapplied every year without the need for time-consuming sanding.

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