I have read that there are only two softwoods that steambend well, Pacific Yew and Alaskan Yellow Cedar. Are there any other softwoods that have steambending properties that are comparable to the aforementioned wood species? Thanks!

  • 2
    any reason for softwoods in particular? Ash (a hardwood) is supposed to be one of the best for steam bending.
    – bowlturner
    Apr 15 '15 at 18:51
  • Thinner sheets bend better than thicker ones. a good resawing setup for thin sheets will help a lot. Apr 15 '15 at 20:40
  • This book considers pine and white cedar bendable, but I would guess they aren't as strong as those you mentioned.
    – lars
    Apr 16 '15 at 5:58
  • 1
    IMHO, straight grained woods will bend very well as a rule. I have steam bent douglas fir into some tight bends on a 3/4" dowel rod I cut myself.
    – Jack
    Apr 17 '15 at 6:03

According to the US Forest Products Laboratory in this 1957 Publication softwoods do not in general work as well as hardwoods in bending applications. Indeed, USFPL cites yew and Alaskan yellow cedar as exceptions. Other species of softwoods (Douglas-fir, southern yellow pine, northern and Atlantic white-cedar, and redwood) are perfectly good for bending, but usually cannot be used for extreme bends. With any species of wood the success rate for bending apparently varies from tree to tree.

To answer your explicit question - it looks like the answer is "no".

However it sounds like you can use other softwoods if you are willing to accept a high level of failures between successful bends. So the alternative answer is "yes" if you're lucky and follow some tips and guidelines:

  • Softwood requires more steaming before it becomes sufficiently plastic for successful bending
  • But over-steamed wood is more likely to fail during the bending process
  • Use straight grained wood that is free of flaws
  • Surface the wood before bending
  • Don't try to bend wood that's thicker than you need

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