I would venture to say that the term 'bent' came from a much earlier time, back in in the days when timber frame construction was the preferred method of construction, reaching it's maturity around the 1400's.
Bent: Structural network of timbers or a truss that makes up one cross-sectional piece of the frame.
One method of timber framing that was certainly contemporary with, and most likely predated box-frame methods (i.e. post & beam and bent-frame styles) was 'cruck' timber framing. Which used trees that had natural curves within their growth and used this characteristic to make matched pairs (i.e. right & left blades), creating rough arched A-frame type trusses. As would be expected, with an increase in population which in turn increased demand for more structures. The 'cruck' method of timber framing quickly ran out of suitable trees, not to mention that similar methods were also used in shipbuilding too.
Anyway, 'cruck' is a variant of the word 'crook' which has as one of its definitions, describing an object that has a curve or bend in it, which is how I figure the term 'cruck' came to be used to describe that method of timber framing. Additionally, the term "crooking" was used to describe the process of bending wood.
Well, as the available supply of trees with natural curves decreased, some method needed to be found to use straight pieces of timber to accomplish the same thing that 'crucks' had. Thus the 'bent-frame' method of timber framing. Maybe, since the term 'cruck' specifically referred to the curved arch, they substituted the word 'bent'.
Bent â€" (1) A group of two or more piles which support a trestle deck or falsework. A transverse framework to carry lateral as well as vertical loads. (2) A piece of lumber curved by lamination or steaming. (3) Land unenclosed and covered by grass or sedge, as opposed to wood, such as wasteland.
(Construction Dictionary, Phoenix Chapter NAWIC)
Bent - A supporting unit of a bridge comprised of two or more piles connected by a cap or another member. This connecting member distributes superimposed loads on the bent. When combined with a system of diagonal or horizontal bracing attached to the piles, the entire construction distributes its loads onto the foundation.
(York Bridge Concepts (YBC) is the nation's leading turn-key Timber bridge contractor.-Tampa, FL)
Bent - technical term for a bridge pier. Commonly referred to as a bridge column.
(The Texas Highwayman's Guide to The San Antonio Area Freeway System)
Bent â€" A transverse or longitudinal line of structural framework composed of columns, girts, ties, and diagonal bracing members.
(Griswold Water Systems (GWS) was founded in 1994, in South Daytona, Florida)
Just to add a little history to part of what SteveC mentioned in relation to shipbuilding, the U.S. Navy owned a large tract of land across Mobile Bay(Eastern side) that had a lot of old live oaks. They have a tendency to grow heavy limbs out and then up, which made them ideal for rib and bow frames in the old large Navy sailing vessels. Many years ago, they still owned some of the land, though I doubt they do any more.
Gulf shores National Monument owned by the National Park service is located West of Pensacola on Mobile bay and it has a stand of live oaks that were used for ship building for the reasons you mentioned plus it was the most dense of wood weighing in at almost 80 lbs per cubic foot. I couldn't find the word bents used but you got the impression reading the articles that the limbs could have been called bents.
Posted By vsmith on 08/27/2008 5:07 PM
Why do they call it a "Bent"?
Why not? if they called it "thingamajig" they wouldnt get very far now would they.../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif" border=0>