How to Bend Mouldings
So you’ve got your lovely new Chic Mouldings and you’re ready to start sticking them onto that piece of furniture that you’ve been itching to get cracking on, only to realise that the piece you’re working on has a curved front! Oh no!
You try to convince the moulding to contort to the shape you need but it’s no use, you’re going to snap it if you bend it any harder, and even if you could press it into shape for a moment, how would you hold it in place while the glue sets?
Well, fear not. It is very easy to learn how to bend mouldings.
Basically if you do try to bend your moulding straight out of the packaging you will probably end up snapping it. The key is to apply some gentle heat to the appliqué to make it flexible enough to bend into the shape that you need it to be.
Once it cools down it will retain its shape and you can then attach it to your project as normal.
About moulding material types.
Mouldings can be made from various materials. Traditionally, mouldings were made of plaster or wood, but latex mouldings were also produced. These days, plaster, wood, latex (which is flexible by nature but harder to work with) and resin are most common.
Chic Mouldings are made from a polyurethane resin as it is by far the most durable and practical, easy to use and cost effective. And – you can bend them!
Unlike some other brands, all the hard, bendable mouldings in the Chic Mouldings collection are made with 100% resin, no wood or poly fillers, so they have more integrity from the start, and are easy to work with.
Can you bend any resin moulding?
Technically yes, but there are things to consider:
1 – Thickness
Consider the thickness of the moulding you are trying to bend. The thicker the moulding, the longer it will take to heat enough to bend it.
In addition, mouldings can crack if you bend it too far. When you bend a moulding, one side is being compressed and the other stretched. Even when heated, if stretched to far, the surface can crack.
2 – Design
Consider the design of the moulding.
For mouldings with a varying thickness along the length, be sure to heat the thicker parts up enough, because they will want to resist bending more than the thinner areas. A form helps to ensure an even curve.
3 – Is it painted yet?
If your moulding is already painted on the front, be careful when heating it. Heat can bubble and peel paint.
You may want to heat it from the back (which is easy with thinner mouldings as the heat easily transfers to the front.
4 – How much do you want to bend it?
The tighter the curve, the more pressure will be put on the moulding. Even a thin moulding will not survive being bent in half.
The 12mm wide moulding you can see in the video below was bent to its limits. A thinner moulding with an even thickness, such as the tiara in the video will bend to a tighter curve.
What will I need?
- A resin moulding
- A form to bend the moulding around
- Masking tape
- Protective gloves
- Heat Gun or Hairdryer
Safety First – Work in a well ventilated space, and WEAR GLOVES! They can get hot enough to burn.
How to bend mouldings – The Heat Gun / Hair Dryer Method:
Heat guns tend to run hotter than hairdryers, so they will heat up a moulding faster than a hairdryer, but either will do.
In a well ventilated space, use a hair dryer and select a high heat setting. Then you want to start heating the moulding , moving the heat around so that you do not concentrate the heat at any one point for long, as it can burn the resin.
Depending on the shape you are trying to adjust to I would generally recommend starting from the centre of the moulding and working outwards towards the edges.
You will notice the moulding become floppier and almost rubbery. It can then be pressed into shape using your form, and held with some masking tape or similar while it cools down. Once it has cooled the tape can be removed and the appliqué will retain its curved shape.
If it’s not quite there you can apply a little more heat and make some adjustments until you feel you have it just right. Once you’re happy you can go ahead and attach the mouldings with your favourite glue. I tend to use two part cyanoacrylate glue as it’s instant and bonds like crazy.
If you have not quite got it all bent correctly before it sets, you can reheat. Be aware that the more you reheat it and the hotter it gets, the more brittle it can become. Any brittleness will be supported by the surface of the piece it is being adhered to, but it be aware that it will be easier to snap while it is being handled and glued on.
Also be aware that the resin has a “memory”, so when reheated, it will want to revert back to the shape it was when it was cast.
The video below demonstrates how to bend mouldings with this technique.
Once the mouldings have set they will be as tough as when they were made and if you want to set them again you will have to apply heat once again.
How to Bend Mouldings – The Water Bath Method:
The principal here is much the same as the hair dryer method only instead of applying heat that way we are going to use a bath of boiling water.
Simply get a vessel large enough to contain your moulding, fill it with boiling water, and immerse your moulding in it for as long as it takes for it to become pliable enough to work with.
The nice thing about this method is that you can heat all of the moulding at the same time, Obviously, you will need to quickly quickly dry off the back before applying it to you project, especially if you are not using water based glue.
You’ll know when the moulding is ready as it will be easily pliable and you should be able to press it into the shape you need without forcing it.
As before just hold it in place and shape with some adhesive tape until it has cooled and it will retain its shape ready to be permanently affixed.
This method works best with mouldings that are not so thick. For thicker mouldings, by the time the heat reaches the centre (IF it does), the water will have cooled enough to cool down the outside of the moulding, preventing an easy bend.
Most of the more thinner mouldings in the collection will bend easily into shape, and once applied, will look like they were made along with the piece of furniture they are being fixed to.
What if my moulding cracks while I am bending it?
If you crack your moulding while bending it, simply straighten the moulding out and cool it down. Then carefully dribble superglue into the crack, leave to cure and try again. Try to use as little superglue as you can get away with.
Heating up superglue can cause fumes that really sting the eyes, so if you do have to heat up a moulding that has superglue on it, be careful to work outside and ideally, protect your eyes and wear a mask.
Safety Note regarding using Microwave / Convection Oven:
It has been suggested by some that you can heat your mouldings in a microwave. Whilst this is possible, it is potentially unsafe if not using correct safety precautions. When heated, the resin will produce fumes, so you must wear a respirator and be working in a well ventilated space.
In addition, your microwave will be thereafter contaminated an therefore not suitable for heating food. Please be aware of this. The same goes for heating resin in a conventional oven. If you have an appliance you can dedicate to heating plastics, and use proper health and safety considerations that is OK.
Needless to say these methods will not work with other mouldings made of other materials such as plaster of Paris (these will snap instantly if you try to bend them) or wooden mouldings.
And that’s all! You now know all about how to bend mouldings. I hope you find it useful when you are trying to shape mouldings into curved areas and mirror frame corners etc.