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Photo: Jacob Ehrbahn

precompression

Precompression is a new technique which gives the opportunity to work with very curved wooden items, making it highly interesting for cabinet makers and designers.

Precompressed wood is made by heating moistened wooden items. While the wood is still hot, it is subjected to very high pressure from each end. This compresses the very cell structure making the wood very soft. Subsequently, the wood is dried whereby it will maintain its new shape.

As such, the method resembles the old technique of steam bending. However, the element og compression causes precompressed wood to become much more elastic than steam bent wood. If dropped from a tall building, a chair made exclusively of precompressed wood would probably act much like a football.

Precompressed wood has many advantages. If kept moist, it can be put in stock for up to six months before being shaped. The reason is that, unlike steam bent wood, precompressed wood does not need heat during the actual shaping. This also means that the vastage is very low and that it is much less costly. However, precompression can only be used on leef-bearing trees.

The technique has been known in England since the 1940's, but was not developed for production until the Department of Wood at The Technological Institute of Denmark experimented with precompression in 1990 and 1991. The current manager of PP Møbler, Søren Holst Pedersen, participated in the research process, and in 1997 PP Møbler started working on a new prototype for PK 15 based on this new technique. Today precompressed wood is found in several models produced by PP Møbler.

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