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How is flexible plywood made so flexible?

  Small overall thickness: minimize the strain differential between the inner and outer surfaces of the curve.

  Thin individual plies: as above, but for each solid layer of wood.

  Fine-grained wood species: to enable both of the above while retaining a solid structure.

  Flexible glue: allow for the outer layer to "stretch" past the inner layer.

  Grain oriented along the intended curve axis: if you think of the wood grain structure as a bundle of columns, they bend much more readily between the columns than along the columns.