Building my own sidebender

Below a couple of pictures of my self-made sidebender.

Have been using a manual bending pipe for my previous guitars. Helped me develop a feel for various kinds of woods etc. This being said, if you want consistent results (every side being exactly like the other), then doing it manually is a pain. It’s easy to get sides bent so that they “look” right, but if you compare them then they will be slightly different every time. The affect on the sound is minimal (not noticeable I would say) since small differences may not notably change the size of the box (air volume etc.), unless you get your sides really off :).

It’s more for the looks. And, not to forget, to limit the risk of breaking a side. Since I invested in some quite expensive Brasilian rosewood recently with extremely structured sides, I decided that bending this wood by hand would be too risky. Then looking at the prices some people sell these “fox benders” (500 EUR and up ) I decided I would just invest one rainy week-end into building my own. Investment: around 70 EUR counting the wood, the screws, the light-bulbs, the springs and the electrical dimmer to control the light-heat intensity ….

Finally I found that such a bending device is not only useful during the bending of sides per se, but also helps the straightening of already-bent sides:

  • In my current guitar projet I use some nice Santos rosewood. I got the sides pretty thin (since I still bent them by hand) and found they may lacked some lateral stability…. Since this would have an impact on the sound of the guitar (to “weak” sides will dampen the sound between top and back since they will happily participate to the vibrations…. and you don’t want that. The stiffer the side, the better. (and too thin sides may crack….).
    This is why I eventually decided to laminate these sides. Since I do not regularly laminate sides I didn’t invest in a lamination kind of mold, and did it “so-so” by hand…. result, after the glue dried, the sides was a little “twisted” :). usually it would be a timeconsuming issue to fix such an issue. However, if you got a bending machine, just set the temperature to medium heat, install your laminated already bent side and let it sit under pressure for a good hour (at “medium” heat since you don’t want to unglue the lamination). Then turn the power off and let the side installed under pressure until it has cooled off…. Remove it, and the initial twist is “gone”…

Right, enough talking, below you can enjoy some pictures of the “just finished building” device. The installed wood you can see on the pcitures is actually one of the sides of that Santos tonewood I mention above during its “un-twisting” operation 🙂