| EXOTIC SOFTWOOD THAT IS VERY HARD
English, or European, yew is a coniferous softwood, though the lumber is so hard and strong you would be forgiven for thinking it was a hardwood. The wood was often used for bows because it bends well. Today there is only a limited supply of wide, straight-grained
yew. Narrower branches and roundwood are favored by turners.
Type Temperate softwood
Similar species Pacific or Western yew (T. brevifolia)
Sources Europe, some parts of Asia and north Africa
Color Heartwood is a light orange-red brown, which darkens considerably with age. The sapwood, which some woodworkers use for contrast, is white.
Texture Fine and even
Grain Varies greatly, from straight-grained to wavy or even interlocking.
Weight Medium to heavy (42 lb./cu. ft.) (670 kg/cu. m)
Strength Bends well when straight-grained, but otherwise only moderately strong and can be brittle.
Seasoning and stability Seasons well and quickly, and is stable in use.
Wastage Can be high, as boards are often cut from small-diameter roundwood, with a high proportion of sapwood and frequent knots.
Range of board widths Very limited
Range of board thicknesses Very limited
Durability Good, but can be attacked by insects, and cannot be protected by preservative.
Solid burl yew is very highly prized by woodturners and furniture makers, and the veneer is favored by cabinetmakers. Yew veneer tends to buckle.
Certified English yew is relatively rare; the tree is more commonly found in parks, churchyards and gardens than in forests and woodlands.
AVAILABILITY AND COST
English yew is rare and often very expensive.