Bending plywood isn’t a common practice in most workshops, but the technique can prove invaluable. Hobbyists bend plywood to create unique, custom-fitted radii and shapes on model boats and cars, and home renovators use the technique for occasional odd jobs. Enterprising builders can bend wood using several different techniques, but most of the options involve making small cuts in the wood or creating some sort of small, custom steam box. However, builders who want to bend plywood without slicing the material or assembling custom rigs can use warm, damp towels to achieve the same effect.
Compare the plywood and its eventual final location to determine where the bend should occur. Measure the distance with measuring tape if the bend needs to occur at a precise location.
Place the plywood flat on a horizontal surface. Set it in a place where you won't have to move it for several days.
Dampen several towels or rags with warm to hot water. Place them directly on the face of the plywood over the area that needs to bend.
Re-soak the towels with warm water every two or three hours, or whenever the towels no longer feel warm to the touch. Continue reapplying the warm to hot water as necessary until the wood is ready for bending.
Check the condition of the plywood whenever you change the water on the towels. Look for the fibres throughout the panel to become warm and fully saturated, which can take two days or more. Remove the towels when the wood softens completely throughout the area that needs to bend.
Bend the plywood into place while it's still soft, wet and warm. Attach the material directly to its final location if its going over a frame, or bend the plywood over a preconstructed mould if it will be freestanding after it dries.
Clamp or otherwise fasten the bent plywood securely to the frame or mould being used to shape it -- plywood tries to assume its original shape if it isn't thoroughly locked into its new contour. Leave the clamps in place until the plywood dries completely.