First You Cut Down a Tree... (Part 8)

posted Mar 27, 2012, 9:45 AM by Hiram Philo   [ updated Apr 13, 2012, 2:23 PM ]

I love bending wood for guitar sides.  This first picture is of my home made bending iron.  I made it according to the directions of Richard Clark, a highly skilled luthier in Boone, Iowa, who invested a couple years into teaching me this craft.  (I will for the rest of my life be deeply thankful for Richard's instructions.)  This Iron was made from an electric charcoal lighter, pipes, and some basic household electrical supplies.  The other pictures on this page were taken by a friend, Matt Rewerts.

There are a number of methods for bending wood.  I prefer using an iron as demonstrated in these pictures because it causes less cracking with brittle woods, is less mechanized and requires the type of skills developed by early luthiers.

I wet the wood on the side which faces the iron to prevent burning.  The heat of the iron softens the resins in the wood.  These resins are the basic glue God gave wood to hold the wood fibers in their original tree trunk form.  As soon as the resins cool, the wood is essentially glued into its new configuration.

As I bend the wood I frequently compare the curves to the pattern.  You will be seeing this gluing form, which I am using as a pattern, again in future posts.

To see this series of posts from the beginning click here:  First You Cut Down A Tree 
To see the next post in this series click here:  First You Cut Down a Tree... (Part 9)