Starting to Bend . . .

Friday, July 4th, 2008 (Happy Fourth of July!!!!):

Well, since I have my sides profiled, it's time to start the bending process. I'm going to do the non-cutaway side first, as I have some things to do on my cutaway bending form, to make it easier to use.

The first thing I did was to lay out my bending "sandwich". From a tip on the OLF forum, I bought a handy 6" roll of Kraft paper from a place called U-Line. It's handy because my spring steel slats and heating blanket are 6" wide. I cut out 2 pieces of the Kraft paper the same size as the slats. I also cut out 2 pieces of 6" aluminum foil. I dampened the Kraft paper, squeegeed out the excess water, and put together my bending sandwich:


After putting together the sandwich, I used my bender to bend the non-cutaway side. I placed the sandwich into the bender, flush against the front edge of the bender, lining up the waist (marked with a thin strip of tape) with the vertical slot of the bender. I put some spring clamps on the ends of the sandwich to hold everything together.

I cranked down slightly on the waist caul, just enough to hold the sandwich in its proper position. I slipped a thermometer in between the wood and the heat blanket and plugged in the blanket.

Now I was ready to bend. When the temperature reached about 225°, steam started to appear, and it was time to start the bend. I slowly cranked down the waist caul, stopping about 1/2" before reaching the waist. Then I slowly bent the lower bout. Next, I bent the upper bout (which is much harder to do, as the spring tension feels much tighter). Finally, I finished cranking down on the waist. By the time I was done with the bending, the temperature had reached around 310° or so. I unplugged the blanket at that point.



After letting the blanket cool down a bit (down to around 220°), I plugged it in again, letting it heat up again to around 300° or so. When it did, I unplugged it again. I did this process one more time, until I could no longer see any steam escaping the sandwich.

I am going to let the side sit in the bender until tomorrow, to make sure the side is really "set" into its shape.

Emily making a fashion statement.




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  1. A Little Detour....A Tour of My Workroom!!!
  2. Joining the Top
  3. Starting to Bend
  4. Bending, Day 2
  5. Bending, Day 3
  6. Neck Block, Center Strip, Cutaway!
  7. Bracing the Back, Gluing in the Blocks
  8. Shape Back Braces, Glue Neck Block, Make Spreaders
  9. Spreader, Rim, Kerfing
  10. Rim-Sanding, Brace-Shaping, Go-Bar Modification, & Obon!!!
  11. Side Strips & Rosette
  12. Beginning the Top Bracing
  13. Bracing, Continued...
  14. Gluing the Back
  15. Gluing the Top
  16. Trimming the Overhang
  17. Routing for Binding : Day 1
  18. Routing for Binding : Day 2
  19. Fitting & Gluing the Bindings
  20. The Soundbox is Done!!!
  21. Truss Rod Slot, Peghead Veneer
  22. Peghead, Start Heel
  23. Threaded Inserts, Neck Trimmed
  24. Fitting the Neck!!!
  25. Truss Rod Cavity, Heel Cap, Fingerboard Trimmed
  26. Finishing and Gluing the Fingerboard / Peghead Inlay
  27. Carving the Neck
  28. I Feel Good....The Basic Building is Done!!! (Now on to the Finishing....)
  29. Pore-Filling
  30. Sealing
  31. Finish Coats
  32. Finishing the Finish!!!
  33. Gluing the Bridge
  34. It's All Done!!!







While the bender was in use, I now needed to turn my attention to the cutaway bending form I'm going to use tomorrow. I made this form back in 2006, when I built the first Taylor-style cutaway, because I was having problems bending the sharp cutaway on this guitar.

What I do is first bend the lower bout and waist (up to the tip of the cutaway horn) on the regular bender. Then, after that is cooled down, I remove the side from the form and use this bending form to complete the cutaway bend.

(Today I drilled some holes with a Forstner bit, so that it would be easier to keep the clamp in place, instead of slipping around as I clamp down. I have my form lined with aluminum tape, as well.)

When I use it, I make up the sandwich again and start the bending process. (I have a shorter heat blanket to use for this bender.) I place the already-bent waist into the bottom half of the form. I clamp the top section of the bender over the waist (the left-hand part is hinged, so it sits on top of the waist section). Then I plug in the heat blanket. As the temperature reaches around 225° and steam rises, I start to push down on the left-hand section of the bender as the wood relaxes. When I can, I place the long Jorgensen clamp vertically on that section and slowly crank down on it, clamping the cutaway horn section of the side. When it is all the way down, I then use a third clamp horizontally, to secure it in that direction.


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