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bending pipe heat source


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Greetings:

I searched, but didn't find the answer. I have made a bending pipe out of a 3 inch ID piece of heavy steal pipe, mounted in a scrap of 2x12. I've heard that a 200 watt lightbulb will generate enough heat for bending. Should I give this a try, or is it a waste of time? I'd like to not use the propane tourch so I could do my bending inside.

Thanks.

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I think somewhere I have an article about making one with a thin aluminum tube and a light bulb inside, but I don't have a scanner.

Maybe a steel tube works too, but maybe a typical steel tube is too thick to get hot enough. But maybe it would just take longer to get hot.

I would imagine there's other clever variations. Probably the more "folky" luthiers at MIMF have talked about it.

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I think somewhere I have an article about making one with a thin aluminum tube and a light bulb inside, but I don't have a scanner.

Maybe a steel tube works too, but maybe a typical steel tube is too thick to get hot enough. But maybe it would just take longer to get hot.

I would imagine there's other clever variations. Probably the more "folky" luthiers at MIMF have talked about it.

I've heard that a thick pipe is better - it retains the heat better, though it does take longer to heat up. I wouldn't recommend you bend inside you house (unless it's in a garage or workshop), simply because you will be getting the wood plenty hot, and will be producing plenty of steam and smells whatever the heat source.

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This might be a totally stupid suggestion, but the hot water pipes get extreamly hot in my house, so hot infact that sometimes you can't touch them.

If they're sturdy enough would it be worth haveing a bit of an experiment with them? B)

Obviously they'll be hotter at the boiler end.

What do you guys think dumb or dumber? :D

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thanks everybody. I've got a set up using a propane torch. I'm going to try a 200 watt lightbulb as soon as I get back from a business trip, and I will report if it gets hot enough.

I found this link on MIMF, and he seems to think it works:

Bill's Side Bender

Thanks again.

The cool little artical talks about it requiring more thermal mass, he said using steel whool, I think I've heard of sand being used, but I'm not sure.

The luthier I worked for had a metal pipe with a heating element running through it, with an adjustment knob.

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I have never seen a heat gun or hair drier that was hot enough to generate enough heat to bend guitar sides. The pipe has to be so hot that if you put a drop of tap water on it, it will lightly sizzle and boil then dissolve after a second or two.

Most hair dryers to be had in stores won't hit those temperatures, you're right. But any good quality professional dryer, and certainly most any heat guns, should be able to hit the temperatures needed to insta-boil water..

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

I've tried a couple of side sets so far, and a couple of different methods. A propane torch and 2" ID pipe, my wife's curling iron (hehehe), and I'm working on building a monkey copy of a Fox side bender.

So far, the propane torch was too hot. Burned my set of maple sides (a friend of mine had some rock maple 6/4 scrap). The scorch marks are too deep to dig out with sandpaper.

The curling iron worked a little better overall. I had some fir scraps I shaped into the right thickness the hard way (block/smoothing plane and sandpaper) to .110 thick. It worked, it was just really really really slow.

I'll post my ideas on a fox bender when I get it built.

I'm also working on an idea for a heating element pipe bender. The idea is simple. Use a heating element from a dryer/stove/iron etc. inside a steel pipe to heat the pipe, and run the current through a regular 110v wall potentiameter. My first idea was to take apart a regular clothes iron, since all the electronics are there on it already, and you can pick up a used one for $5 US or a new one for $15, but after a little investigation, most of them come with security head screws on them (triangular or slot curled)! Can't open it without breaking the heck out of it, and risking losing what you paid for (damn).

Going to look at water heater elements next I think. See how I can make them work.

From my research, and practical experience (a little) you don't want your iron too hot. Right around 400 deg F is just about right. A torch will give you upwards of 600. I think the heating element/pot combo is going to be the answer. Versatility and quick setup, with less risk of fire hazard to boot.

I still want to try a fox side bending jig, for more figured woods. All my attempts on scrap have ended badly with tiger maple.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am glad you put up this post I am working on a similar project.

The Bill Side bender light worked really well for me. I ended up with a 300 watt lightbulb and an aluminum tube used for venting the clothes dryer. It worked! You can adjust the heat by moving the bulb closer or away from the tube. The same way you would do it with a torch. In Jim Williams book A guitar Maker's Manual he suggests using a copper tube. I might try that later.

My issue is with the angle I'm trying to bend. I am making a semi-hollowbody with double cut-away horns. The horns are such a tight curve that it's breaking the wood trying to bend them. I'm placing the sides in a mold and clamping them. I think I'll make a couple of male molds to get a more defined horn. Anyone know any tricks?

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