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Woodworking/Motorcycle Fender

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Question
Dear Mr Scholl,

I would like to make a pair of fenders and a cowl out of wood for my motorcycle.  It must be complicated because there are very few examples of this on the internet.  One example I like can be found at http://www.caferacerpasion.com/bmw-r90-scrambler-wood-style-garage-sheriff/   

It's obvious to me that the craftsman glued planks of wood together and carved the fender shape out of the resulting block.  This is an option I could create without resorting to asking for your help.  My question is, would it be possible to create this by steaming and shaping the wood in a mold?  I have some experience with steaming and shaping wood but only on one axis.  This fender should be curved on two axis.  Can it be done in a two step process?  If I glue the planks together and try to steam and shape them I'm afraid the glue wouldn't hold and/or the planks wouldn't have enough flex at the seams.  If I try to shape the wood before I glue, I'm not sure how I'd be able to get everything lined up.  Any advice you have on the subject would be appreciated.  

Additionally, if shaping the wood is above my skill set, I don't deny the possibility, and I do have to resort to carving it out of a laminated block as was done in this article, what woods would you recommend?  I would be looking for a light and a dark wood that has a grain that wouldn't show, particularly the end grain as the cowl will show quite a bit of end grain in this scenario.

Regards,
Dale

Answer
wooden motorcycle fender
wooden motorcycle fend  
Hey Dale, as you have surmised, there's a reason why you can't find examples of this...the rear fender in the example you sent actually looks like a metal fender with a piece of veneer over it...making that type of shape, especially a compound shape, (multiple curves in multiple directions),..especially such tight curves....is virtually impossible. Form lamination might be possible, building the resulting piece with layers of thin veneer over a form, and then shaping and finishing to the final shape, but again , a high level of skill and experience working in this technique would be required to even approach that..I found One example in quite a few minutes of searching, and it looks like it was in deed form laminated. But again, form laminating a compound curve seems unlikely to me. Think of taking a piece of veneer and rolling it into a trough shape and the bending that trough into a curve without deforming the trough... As far as designing something out of a block and not having to deal with end grain, I don't see how...and no matter what species of wood, you would have to deal with quite a lot of end grain surface to finish it.A laminated block would also suffer from a lot of end grain area...and trying to shape a large laminated block of any configuration would be a huge undertaking. Could it be done?...possibly...but not something I could see a novice woodworker completing. There are examples of radically laminate furniture on the web, with all sorts of wild shapes, perhaps one of these artists could shed more light on possible techniques...wish I could be of more help.Please post back with your experiences, and results on the hunt!
Regards, Greg

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Greg Scholl

Expertise

Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects,Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings,wood species recognition,usage,etc.

Experience

Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Sold, built, serviced, setup Home,Industrial and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools, and offered instruction on use and care as well.I even have some Trade show Demo experience.

Organizations
none at this time.

Publications
Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002)-("27 year compilation of expert know-how"),Multiple times in Family Handyman Magazine, local newspapers as well.

Education/Credentials
Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars by Major tool manufacturers, Delta, Powermatic, Performax, Porter Cable, Skil/Bosch to name a few.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT.(the Antiques capital of CT.)
Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies.For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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