Always an exciting time, when the build gets to the point of bending the sides. It is a high stress time, as breaking sides in the bending process is a huge and costly set-back. Hopefully it will go smoothly,
Each of the necks was rough finished and glued to the tone boards after carefully aligning them to be sure we had straight instruments. Now the butt blocks are being glued to the bottom of the soundboards it is time to begin bending.
Here is my home made bender loaded with the first side. Note that I have written my menu for the side package on the side so I don't forget it. First a sheet of bendable steel, then the wood wrapped in wet paper and covered with aluminum foil, On top of that goes the heat blanket and then a final layer of bendable steel. the blanked is heated to 350 degrees before the bending begins. first the waist is cranked down almost all the way. Then the sides are slowly bent downward as the heat rises to 400 degrees. No sounds of cracking yet, I think this is going well
When the sides are finally bent down to the mold and the heat is up to 400 degrees, the final cranks are taken on the waist screw and the bend is completed. Now to slowly let it cool back to 100 degrees before taking the machine apart and releasing the side. It is looking good at this point, No cracks are evident through the foil. Lets unwrap it and see what we have.
Hot Dog! , a perfect bend. Not cracks, no splits. an excellent result, and always a relief.
I will put it into this press for a while to let it cool off and set its shape.
Here is my temp control device, simply a router speed control which regulates the amount of power going into the heat blanket. Works like a charm.
Here is the look of the work bench at the moment. The butt plates are glued to the soundboards in the background. The completed backs and the side press are seen next, Then paper covered sides waiting to be bent, leather gloves and wooden paddles to stroke and press the bending sides. In the bender is the second successful bend of East Indian Rosewood, and after dinner I did a third bend. Tomorrow I will finish the bending of the remaining five sides hoping for the same success. I am saving the precious Cocobolo bend for last. Wish me luck.