How are these made?

I am being driven mad by my Mrs and her friends to make these wooden rainbows for the kids.
I am looking at them and thinking they have been steam bent using pre forms on a mass scale, probably in China but I may be wrong unless they are cutting thick wood stock as the grain seems to follow through which may contradict my steam bending theory.
What do you folks think?

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Hard to see in pic i have done something similar to this but it was achieved by cutting multiple 18mm thick pieces then sticking together to give correct thickness (was actually doing this on letters)

so to better explain in that bottom picture imagine the top red one was only 18mm wide, i would then cut say 3 x identical size pieces, then glue together sand and then paint and if you do it right and respectability is key here (ah ha! that is why you have a SO3 :slight_smile: ) then you can hardly see the joins and thus have a seamless rainbow arch

hope that makes sense if not shout back your query - although there will be more creative / imaginative people here who will have a different way of doing it :slight_smile: !

Kind Regards


Steambox, you don’t need a cnc to do this. The kits where just on sale at ROCKLER.


If it were me… I’d do this

But use a jig like this to cut the arcs because of the >3" of Z travel needed:


Thanks that looks good. I am a bit unsure about glueing the separate bits together do youthink that how other companies make them?
I dont have those sanders or a table jigsaw either just a hand jigsaw and a hand sander.

Absolutely, materials cost if this was 3" thick lumber would make it a $200 toy. Lamination of any wood is the only way to achieve this result economically. Do you have lots of good quality screw type clamps? That’s the most important part. I like the company Bessy, but these look like a good quality and much cheaper You’ll need at least 6 to glue up something like that… preferably 8. You should also make some “clamping cauls” to apply some force in the middle where your clamps won’t reach.

Use Titebond 3: this will give you a long working time and very strong bond once dry. be generous with your pour and spread it well like he did in the video. Use paper towels to clean up excess, your sand paper will thank you later.

The Jig I linked you in my first post will do what his table jigsaw did MUCH better. You just have to have find a clever way to get everything on the same Z-plane. In fact, I would use a router and a straight edge to make all of your rough cuts; much straighter than a jigsaw.

As for sanders, yes you will have a lot of hand sanding to do. If you have a drill this is the poor man’s solution to not having a drum sander.

You’ll likely need to start at 60/80 and go to 220 or 320 for a child’s toy. Also using a roundover bit is a good idea to evenly round the corners for no splinters. There one in here in this cheap starter set of router bits.

If this sounds like a lot of work… you could consider doing a glue up that make these thinner than 3" and cutting them on your Shapeoko.


Well while plywood is a convenient choice, I don’t think you would break the bank with a 24 to 36in long pine 4X4 that you cut in half then glue together to make your stock. Probably safer for young kids than plywood.


yes… I’m assuming the OP didn’t have a jointer and/or planer (or shrug at the very least a tablesaw) so that would require him to fill voids with puddy and create more problems.

Well I was answering the question regarding how they could be made economically. Since the OP was talking about steam bending, I would think he has at least a tablesaw. With a well tuned tablesaw, a good blade, dry wood, you can make decent glue joints without having to use putty.


steady hand and a bandsaw!


Have you scratched the paint on bottom to see material?
I’d bet money, they are a mdf and manufactured in a curve. Way too much sanding required if bandsaw cut, they wouldn’t be uniform. Steambent if solid wood.

I’ll take that bet!
They’re cut from a slab…maybe on a bandsaw with a jig.

Thanks for the detailed reply Mark certainly food for thought.
My workshop is just getting together so I still need to buy more things, up to this point I have been building stitch and tape canoes so toys are a little different in the requirements.
I dont have a table saw either IM all hand tools.
I suppose I should set up a router table as I have a nice Makita router.
Im enoying the learning curve and getting setup.
thanks again.

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They’re made from a single alder trunk in Bosnia. Band saw probably wins, they’re from sustainable forests, dyed not painted, meet EU standards, most likely a lot of hand labor from the description and price.


Hi,Guys, Newbie here, They are almost certainly made like the old trays were; preformed in MDF now, instead of Melamine. (age showing here 77!) too much cost in cutting from solid or laminating also too much finishing required again resulting in high cost. Nearly everyhing like this is made in MDF now. tap them MDF has an unmistakable sound and resistance. Good luck. Gwyn

Woops! how wrong can you be!

so if they are dyed they must be dipped?

I don’t know of these specifically, but I use dyes all the time that are just water based, wiped on with a rag or paper towel. Have some other dye powders that are mixed with alcohol, same thing, wiped on with a paper towel or rag. I like using them because I can apply them inside my house instead of out in the shop where it’s been really cold lately and not worry about the smell. I get some really vibrant colors. The brand I use is Folk Art Ultra Dye. The powdered ones are called keda dye, which I’ve also mixed with epoxy and micro balloons to fill V carves with mixed results. No need to dip.


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You could cut these in layers from 3/4 stock or ply or mdf on your Shapeoko including dowel holes, and use dowels to align them for clamping & gluing the several pieces of each arc together.


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