Recently, I came across the expression "To follow one's bent," but I cannot find anything on the internet that explains what it means. Could someone shed some light on this expression, please?
The relevant sense of bent is OED’s n2 6.b.:
Mental inclination or tendency; disposition; propensity, bias. The usual modern sense.
The two latest examples given suggest the term is especially used to refer to a disposition towards a certain line of work.
To go into that line of work towards which one has a bent would be to follow one’s bent. The expression could also refer to indulging any particular inclination or exercising a particular talent.
To "follow your bent" means to follow your natural tendency. The term probably comes from woodworking. Often times a piece of wood with a particular shape was used for a specific purpose. The example of knees in shipbuilding is apt. If a shipbuilder used pieces that were naturally grown in the correct shape he was following the bend of the wood. Somebody that follows their natural inclination, aptitude or tendency could be said to be "following their bent" or bend.