The Side Bender
The side bender draws from the original design by Charles Fox and improvements added by Luthiers Merchantile International and a couple more added by Loonsong Instruments.
This design uses a 6” by 36” silicon heating blanket sandwiched with one guitar side wood between two spring steel slats.
With the verticle waist press opened, the “sandwich” is placed on a wooden mould of one guitar side. The waist position on the wood is marked and this mark is lined up to the center of the waist position of the mould. Then the press is closed and snapped tight.
The heat is turned on and set on the temperature controller to 330oF. Once the temperature almost reaches the 330oF the waist press is slowly lowered, pressing the wood in at the waist point.
Then the first spring block of the lower bout is rolled from the waist by means of the dowel handles to the widest point of the bout, slowly bending the wood. This is followed by the second lower bout spring block. Then the first spring block is rolled slowly further to the lowest point of the bout.
Following this, the spring block of the upper bout is slowly rolled from the waist, over the widest part of the bout and finally, to the highest point of the bout.
All of this activity takes 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the type of wood. The form is left this way for about 5 to 10 minutes to set the bend and then the power is turn off of the heat blanket to allow it all to cool.
Some recepies call for reheating the sandwich after a complete cool-
The temperature controller, heating blanket and spring steel slats are all sourced from Luthiers Mercantile International.