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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:17 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:51 am
Posts: 24
Location: Fishers, IN
As I'm circling my first project I'm going back and forth between a kit and a scratch build, and one of the questions is regarding bending sides for the first time and how not to break the first batch. I'm not really a beginning in bending wood, have done a lot of steam bending of ash and oak over the years, which means I've broken a lot of wood! So was hoping for recommendations for good success on a first time bend, relatively low tech: steam, heating iron, etc., and/or a good tutorial. I've looked at John's videos and didn't see one, apologies if I missed it.

And I've been trying to stay away from anything curly or with figure because I know that adds degrees of difficulty, but I'm getting sucked in....(curly Black Walnut...quilted Sapele....mmmm....)...what advice do folks have in that area?

Thanks for any help -

Clay

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Last edited by Morecowbell on Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:50 am
Posts: 658
Location: Chadds Ford, PA
John has bending videos up on utube showing how to bend with the Fox machine. If you are going the blowtorch/pipe route, search again on YouTube as there are plenty of posts there on how to bend sides. The tricky part is getting the right temperature and using proper backing (stainless steel sheet or whatever). Wood generally bends easily, though some experience breaking pieces is helpful to know how to avoid problems. One the this site's sponsors, RCT, sells practice sides of mixed species. Be sure to thickness properly, another factor for success.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:15 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 8:06 pm
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Location: Visalia, CA
Hi Clay,
I bent my first 5 guitar sides on a homemade bending pipe. I went to the salvage yard and bought a 18" long piece of heavy wall aluminum pipe, 3" dia.
I was bending drednaughts, so the 3" pipe was fine for this. I think I paid less than 3 dollars for the pipe. Then I went to Home Depot and bought an electric charcoal lighter for around $12. I squeezed the element down so it would fit inside the pipe. Mounted the pipe to a board using some bent allthread for 4 legs. I wired the lighter to a dimmer switch for some control on the heat. This thing gets plenty hot. Some soak sides, some spritz the sides with water before bending. I found that if I laid a rag on the pipe and keep it wet and bent on that, the steam keeps coming and aids in the bending. This worked very well and total cost was about $20. I still have it and use it sometimes even though I know have a fox style bender.
I'll look for a picture of the pipe bender for you. It is a great inexpensive way to get started, before you get the bug and are building your 10th or 20th guitar.

Kevin


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:17 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:51 am
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Location: Fishers, IN
Thanks for the replies! Watching videos and reading forums I'm getting intrigued by the heating blankets/external strap/bending to a form approach - didn't think I would but it makes a lot of sense. Trying not to get over-involved on the first one but sometimes a little extra setup goes a long way. And I doubt I'll build just one....

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"The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference." - van de Snepscheut


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:13 pm 
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Location: Chadds Ford, PA
Morecowbell wrote:
Thanks for the replies! Watching videos and reading forums I'm getting intrigued by the heating blankets/external strap/bending to a form approach - didn't think I would but it makes a lot of sense. Trying not to get over-involved on the first one but sometimes a little extra setup goes a long way. And I doubt I'll build just one....


heating blankets and the fox bender certainly take out the uncertainty and provide a consistent result. I started with a 3" copper pipe and a blowtorch in 1974-75. Cracked my first set and after that successfully bent sides and moved on to bending lute ribs with the same set up for years. Then I moved up (?) to the electrically heated aluminum bending device that one can buy and finally a couple of years ago took John Hall's excellent class and learned how to do the fox bender, which I now admit is so much easier than the blowtorch method. I used to take fiddleback maple lute rib cutoffs and bend them in 2" circles for fun. By then i had a pretty good idea how to crack the wood and sometimes that happened even when trying to be careful. Just jump in and go at it, but do not do your first set right away; practice first.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 4:56 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
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Location: Hegins, Pa
I like to experiment from time to time and here is something I tried.
I used a 3 inch piece of round stock. Pipe , even wood will work.

My wood was to .075 in thick. My heat device was a simple steam cloths iron and leather gloves. I did profile my side then using the steam setting ( later added wet paper towels ) I set a wet towel under and on the wood and just heated with the steam and as the wood got flexible I removed the towels and used high dry heat.
Actually went well I was using mahogany by the way. Then I went to the lower bout , again got it to move and set it with the dry heat. Took some time but it did set.. Then the upper same thing After I got comfy I figured out the balance of water. Took about 40 min. I won't be changing from the bender but wanted to try something that I can pass on for beginners. The key is get the wood flexible then dry heat to set the bend . This takes a bit to learn so figure a side for scrap

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:51 am
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Location: Fishers, IN
Is tone wood typically air-dried? Just curious, kiln-dried wood is more brittle when bending in my experience.

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"Facts seldom sway an opinion." - John Hall
"The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference." - van de Snepscheut


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:30 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:50 am
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Location: Chadds Ford, PA
Morecowbell wrote:
Is tone wood typically air-dried? Just curious, kiln-dried wood is more brittle when bending in my experience.


Generally. One notable exception these days is torrified spruce processed to simulate the dryness of age. Fortunately, tops don't get bent much. :-)


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2019 8:13 pm 
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Location: Fishers, IN
tippie53 wrote:
I like to experiment from time to time and here is something I tried.
I used a 3 inch piece of round stock. Pipe , even wood will work.

My wood was to .075 in thick. My heat device was a simple steam cloths iron and leather gloves. I did profile my side then using the steam setting ( later added wet paper towels ) I set a wet towel under and on the wood and just heated with the steam and as the wood got flexible I removed the towels and used high dry heat. Actually went well

I've bent a lot of wood using steam (and leather gloves) and have been surprised by its absence in side-bending since its so prevalent in other walks of woodworking. I recently acquired a wallpaper steamer at a garage sale ($5, deal of the century) and its a nice steam generator for smaller applications.

But steam is by definition 212 degrees F, and the temps on the heating blankets are around 300 degrees F, right? I've seen up to 350 degrees, which seems really hot to me. I'm going to need to do some experimenting!!

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"Facts seldom sway an opinion." - John Hall
"The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference." - van de Snepscheut


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2019 9:50 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:51 am
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Location: Fishers, IN
...and now I have another question on side bending. The molds for John's bender (others) appear to have plywood forms on the outside connected by metal dowel "spacers" across the roughly 5" gap where the side is bent - so are the metal slats that sandwich the wood thick enough that they support the outside form shape across the 5" gap? Just curious, I would have expected the form to be solid all the way across...

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"The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference." - van de Snepscheut


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