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I'm planning a build of an RG style guitar with a flame maple top or veneer. I'm planning on doing a flat top except for the arm rest. Because of this I had planned on just doing a veneer. I noticed that the Suhr modern guitars have what looks like a quarter inch maple top that follows this contour. How do they do that while keeping the thickness of the top consistent around the entire guitar? The natural guitar with the black hardware is what I want to build. The red orange with zebra pickups is the Suhr. 

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That's done by bending a (roughly) 1/4" of Maple using heat over a bend in the lower part of the body. It can be a difficult trick to get right, but worth the effort. A veneer should ideally be bound since it's extremely difficult to get a good transition between the veneer and the body, especially with a corner radius. That said, veneers are infinitely-easier to bend over contours.

This can be done. Just keep us in the loop as you progress and it'll get itself there. :thumb:

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Hello. I'm new here but a longtime lurker and learner!

Fletcher Handcrafted Guitars have a great tutorial on this process here: 

 

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I would say the veneer is much easier to bend but also much harder to glue evenly without a vacuum press. I want attempt this soon. I saw a guy steam wood for bending inside a towel with a hose coming from a tea kettle. The glue-up of the top would have to be epoxy I'm assuming. The last one I bent did with a lot of clamping but I wouldn't do it that way again without heating the wood.

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Yeah, veneer is really easy to make conform to an arm contour. Much easier than a thicker top as above.

My homemade vacuum press for my walnut veneer RG build I'm doing worked great. I just used a cheapo vacuum storage bag, a baseboard with some channels in it to assist air escaping and some thin foam material to protect the veneer itself. That said, I did have a tiny amount of air getting back into the bag due to a poor seal on the valve so I had to vacuum a couple more times for peace of mind during the first four hours or so. I got away with it and achieved an almost perfect seal all the way around. Only during staining did I find a couple of tiny areas around the edge that opened up, but nothing a little CA glue couldn't fix. I'd highly recommend buying a proper vinyl bag and metal valve if you want to do it properly though.

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36 minutes ago, Woden said:

Yeah, veneer is really easy to make conform to an arm contour. Much easier than a thicker top as above.

My homemade vacuum press for my walnut veneer RG build I'm doing worked great. I just used a cheapo vacuum storage bag, a baseboard with some channels in it to assist air escaping and some thin foam material to protect the veneer itself. That said, I did have a tiny amount of air getting back into the bag due to a poor seal on the valve so I had to vacuum a couple more times for peace of mind during the first four hours or so. I got away with it and achieved an almost perfect seal all the way around. Only during staining did I find a couple of tiny areas around the edge that opened up, but nothing a little CA glue couldn't fix. I'd highly recommend buying a proper vinyl bag and metal valve if you want to do it properly though.

 

It would be the greatest thing ever if you showed a little video on how you made the press. I've been wanting one forever but can't pull the trigger because of the high price. I have a few RG's that could use a veneer ;)

Edited by Zack

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The way to look at it is how wood works as a material. It's a bunch of long fibres held together by natural "glues". Imagine bending a piece around a cylinder. The wood closer to the cylinder has a far smaller radius to encompass than the outside, which has to stretch to cover it. Heat loosens that glue, allowing fibres to slip between each other (like lacing your fingers and pulling your hands apart) or to a lesser degree compress. This is really butchering the concept, but it gives you an illustration of why veneers have far less work to do to conform to curves.

Perfect DIY example, Woden! I was wondering whether adding in vacuum reservoirs might help in that instance? I mean, it'll slow the draw down but it'd help allay some of the drop in vacuum hardness from the leaky bits.

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Hey, Zack.

I simply copied this guy's method! Again, if you can afford to pay a little more for a thicker vinyl bag and get a stronger valve than the plastic ones that come with these storage bags, do that, but this worked great for me:
 

 

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@Zack - the storage bags @Woden is talking about are the clothes and bedding bags that you suck all the air out with using a vacuum cleaner. Our Dyson pulls a duvet down to a ridiculously-small size.

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Thanks for that clarification. And hello, @Prostheta. I have learned countless lessons from reading your extremely informative posts on these forums the past couple of years!

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