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|Side Bender Form|
This side bender is a variation of many designs I have seen including Olson Guitars, Bruce Dickey
Guitars and others. Notice that the form is built at an angle such that the upper and lower bout are
level. (Since heat rises this keeps the upper and lower bout at the same temperature.)
The form is cut from plywood. After cutting the first side carefully and sanding, use a pattern bit in a
router to make a perfect copy. The side profile should be exaggerated just a bit to allow for spring-
back. I over-bend by about 1/2" on the tail block end and slightly less on the neck-block end. This over-
bend is designed into the side bender form.
I used blocks of poplar to space the two sides. Bolts with metal pipe as spacers will work well also.
I used parts of an outdoor lighting fixture to make the lamp sockets. 150W to 200W bulbs are
suggested. (Don't use plastic lamp sockets, they will melt!)
I lined the insides with aluminum foil using 3M spray adhesive.
( Side bender during assembly )
This form allows heating from "inside" the guitar side, but a heating blanket is also needed to heat the
side from the "outside".
The form is covered in 24 gauge sheet metal that is nailed in several places and the nail heads are set
flush with a nail set.
Pairs of eye hooks are placed near the edge. Eye bolts are attached to the eye hooks to allow wooden
cauls to be tightened.
The waist bend can be difficult to get in the right location if you try to bend the side all at one time. I
follow the examples of others and bend the waist on a separate pipe bender and let cool. Then I clamp
the pre-bent side in the side bender to bend the upper and lower bout.
The bent sides are pulled tight to the form using the wooden cauls and wing nuts. Wing nuts take a
while to tighten by hand so watch the temperature while you are bending.
(A digital cooking thermometer is great for this. Check Harbor Freight Tools or Wal-Mart.)
My preferred bending method is: