i bend stuff all the time and very rarely use steam for a couple of reasons;
1) steaming takes longer than strip laminating for me
2) with strip laminations i have very little if any springback
edge grain is an issue with strip laminations, the strips do show unless you veneer over the edge or cut a profile to hide the laminations.
the major deciding factor for me is springback. a steam bent piece that is not restrained after bending will try to return to somewhere near its original shape, if you bend a piece into a "u" let it cool and remove it form the form and leave it unrestrained it will turn into a shape somewhere between a "u" and an"L"....where this movement stops (if it ever does?) depends on the board and the enviornment....if you where to split wood staves from the same oak tree and steam them the same amount of time under ideal conditions, place them in identical forms, dry them in the same room then turn them loose each would behave somewhat differently...
whereas if you take kiln dried oak and cut 1/8" laminations and glue them around a form even with pva glue and set them side by side they will remain very similar if not identical,(it depends on the radius of the bend and number of laminations).....the more glue you introduce into a bend the more stable that bend becomes....
hope this helps? tod
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