bending very figured maple without wetting

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Greg Martin
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bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Greg Martin »

Ive got to bend some figured maple and my tests have failed at the cut a way. Ive talked to Rob from LMI vid fame and he said water will soften the unstable curly grain and it will fail. He stated he bends dry on very figured maple. Im wondering what the pros here do ??

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Barry Daniels
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Barry Daniels »

Are you using spring steel slats?
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Bob Gramann
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Bob Gramann »

I haven't built a maple guitar in quite some time, but when I do curly maple binding (on a hot pipe), I make the pipe a little hotter than usual, thin the maple as much as I can (going around a tight bend thickens it a little), and use a sheet metal backing band. The metal retains the heat, makes the bending oressure more even, and keeps the grains from splitting out tangent to the bend. And, I do it dry. Water encourages it to fold at every little curly place in the grain.

John Sonksen
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by John Sonksen »

I've used a spray bottle to mist it with water but absolutely don't get it soaking wet. If it's wet the water will steam off straight through the phloem which creates the figure in the wood, and will soften it as it goes through resulting in a kink or a tear. I bent some curly maple around the upper bouts on my Double cut LP and the radius is probably sub 3/4" so you should be able to get a cutaway on an archtop. Like these guys said, thin it down, give it heat and wait for it to kind of slump in your hands. I only misted occasionally to prevent scorching.

Michael Lewis
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Michael Lewis »

Some pieces will bend more willingly than others, so hope you get the ones than are more compliant.

There are several approaches to bending wood but the key is to get it hot enough to soften it and not so hot as to scorch. Are you using a heating blanket or bending iron?

Greg Martin
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Greg Martin »

Im using an electric heat pipe which is 2.25" diameter I do not have any metal strip, does it have to be spring steel--lmi want a first born for a piece of that.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Barry Daniels »

Any kind of metal backing strip should help. Just be aware that regular steel will stain the wood.
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Bob Gramann
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Bob Gramann »

I use a piece of aluminum flashing.

Michael Lewis
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Michael Lewis »

You might try a paper towel folded over several times draped over the pipe and kept damp. I use a spray bottle for keeping it damp, and the damp heat really carries the temperature into the wood. Don't let the paper towel dry out or it will scorch and burn. By using this method you greatly reduce the chance of scorching your wood, plus it gets hot and bends better than just using a bare pipe or iron. Some experimentation is recommended.

Greg Martin
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Greg Martin »

did try dry today and got a little scorch at the waste .I turned down the temp to 285 from 305 and was able to get my practice piece pretty close .I had one slight split ,stopped and super glued it and was surprised that it held on and allowed me to complete the bend. the cutaway bends went well, I guess you need to sneak up on the bends and go really slow. I did spritz the cutaway once or twice, Ill get a rhythm pretty soon. Hope to post a pic as well when both are complete.

Craig Bumgarner
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Craig Bumgarner »

Super Soft 2 worked for me on a very right cutaway radius with curly maple binding when nothing else did

Greg Martin
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Greg Martin »

Thanks for the folded wet paper towel trick---it worked---success !!! Ill do one more test set,make sure my clamping cauls are right and then do the actual set for this project.Ill post some pics too.

Michael Lewis
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Michael Lewis »

One point regarding repairing cracks in the bends: it is best to glue them with hot hide glue after the bend is completed. The side can be placed inside the body form and clamped against the form. Best to place waxed paper or a piece of sheet metal between the side and the form. The reason for the hide glue is that it can be cleaned up afterward and usually shows little or no resistance to stain, whereas the CA , as well as most glues, will definitely resist stain or dye. Even if you don't use stain or dye most glues will show under a finish, and hot hide glue is the least visible in that situation. No gaps allowed, got to close the surfaces of the crack, which may require a bit more heat forming in the body form but it usually allows an invisible repair.

Greg Martin
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Re: bending very figured maple without wetting

Post by Greg Martin »

Ive read about CA glues being used in guitar making and Ive tried drop fills and toughups etc most with terrible results but I keep trying to make the stuff work. I hadn't thought about dyes not taking. This guitar will be filled and or clear coated with aged lacqure but I never thought about the ca causing problems later on .Thanks for pointing this out.You probably saved me some grief.Ill bend up some rims with zero cracks, its got to be done right ? ,right .

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