Best wood to steam bend

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Donlore posted 10-24-2010 10:21 PM 23274 views 1 time favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Donlore's profile


15 posts in 2036 days

10-24-2010 10:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m curious, from everyone’s experience of steam bending different types of wood, what were the easiest and hardest woods to bend, IE.. oak, ash, beech, walnut…..redwood….?

Also, I’ve tried bending kiln dried with little success and am about to try bend air dried. Any comments on this?

Thanks, Don

-- Don, Indiana,

3 replies so far

View Moron's profile


4929 posts in 2928 days

#1 posted 10-24-2010 10:29 PM

As a rule AD bends easier then KD, some KD doesnt bend period

Birch, Ash, White and Red Oaks, Beech, Elm all bend quite well. I’ve had good luck with cherry too.

Good luck

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 1957 days

#2 posted 10-25-2010 04:21 AM

Don’t forget hickory. Lots of chairs are made from it.

-- Life is good.

View shipwright's profile (online now)


6176 posts in 1832 days

#3 posted 10-25-2010 05:48 AM

Building wooden boats involves lots of steam bending. The common woods we used were Oak for ribs ( I’ve bent up to 2 1/2” x 3 1/4” stock) and Yellow Cedar, Red Cedar and Doug Fir for planking. Gumwood will steam bend if you’ve got enough clamps and a come-along. I know of other woods that bend well but these are the ones I have experience with. Kiln drying pretty much “Kill Dries” as far as bending is concerned. The wood never seems to regain it’s elasticity after kiln drying. My tips would be:
1) you want wet, white steam. If it gets clear it’s too hot.
2) you can help yourself a lot by chamfering the corners before bending.
3) a coat of linseed oil will help hold the heat and keep the material moist and flexible longer
4) be aware that a wide piece will cup quite a bit when bent
5) if you aren’t fastening the bent piece hot expect substantial spring-back
It’s a lot of fun to see the things you can do with well steamed wood. Have fun!

Paul M

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics