Custom Side Bending Iron

custom side bending ironThis is my custom side bending iron that I had made for me.  A friend of mine does blacksmith work, and he made the iron.

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This is a piece of thick walled pipe cut from a piece he had in the shop.  It was heated in a forge, then hammered into an oval shape.  This allows for different radii to be used depending on the tightness of the bend needed.

I attached it to a scrap board that I had in the shop, then made a small ledge on the back side to mount it to the end of the bench.  The one piece unit attaches to the bench with clamps, and can take the force of bending very well.

An Oval Allows More Bending Options

custom side bending ironLooking at the end of the pipe, you can see the oval shape.  For tighter bends, I hold the wood against the left or right sides.  This helps maintain contact in a tighter spot.  For more gradual bends, the top is great for heating up a large section at once.

I typically start on the top, because getting a larger section of the wood hot makes the bending process easier.  I then start my bend, and move the piece to a tighter radii.  The thick walls of the pipe really hold the heat.  Once this iron is up to temperature, it stays there for a long time.

Be careful when making a custom side bending iron.  There are sometimes heavy metals in old pipes, and when the iron gets hot they are dangerous to breath.  Also, make sure to have a fire extinguisher handy at all times when working with an open flame.

custom bending ironFor the end of my custom side bending iron, I found a pipe cap that fits inside nicely.  This keeps some of the gasses from coming through. Reducing the heat coming out of the pipe makes it easier to stand in front of.  This wedges in very tightly, so I do not worry that it will fall out and cause a burn.  Never completely seal the end. It can cause heat to build up near the torch, and that can have disastrous consequences.

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My book,Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs details how to make over 50 tools for guitar makers.  It has over 500 pages and 1600 images that detail many acoustic guitar making processes for beginners.

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My article/video on Making a Fret Bending Jig shows how some scraps from the shop can be used to make an almost free fret bender.  This is used to bend the long fret wire before cutting and hammering onto the fretboard.

What is your favorite acoustic guitar making jig?  Let us know by leaving a comment, and we can all benefit from your experience.

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