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Bending Masonite Guitar Sides


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I have a little time on my hands lately and wondered if any of you folks have ever bent

Masonite to make a Dano Style guitar. I bought a sheet of masonite at the depot saturday and want to try building one out of this. I did a search and so far just came up with guitar tops. Can you bend regular masonite on a bending iron to create sides for

a dano style or do you just use it for the top? I don't wanna make a vintage stylee but something modern from old style techniques. Any feedback is greatly appreciated and hey, could be some interesting discussions.

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I don't think you'll run into anyone who's actually done that.

Bending wood thru heat is actually rearranging the wood on a molecular/cellular level.

AFAIK, there are no cells in Masonite, at least that would hold a shape due to heat bending.

If it did work, it would be for some other reason, some other property of physics, like the glue that holds the Masonite together reforming itself or something like that.

If you understand what happens to wood when you soak it and heat it and bend it and clamp it in place in it's newly formed position, and you then also understood what Masonite is made of, you could probably fit the rest of the pieces in the puzzle.

Keep trying till you figure it out and then let us all know how to do it.

I think Bill Machrone (sp?) built a Formica guitar (the Formicaster) over on the MIMF.

Bill would be the one to ask, he'd probably have some intuitively nutcase ideas about what to do with it. :D

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I'm building a Formica guitar, actually I'm using WilsonArt laminate, and it bends fine using a heat pipe. That's how Bill Machrome built the formicaster. The trick is using the postformable products -- those products designed to be bent using heat.

Dunno about Maonite.

Edited by kenneth_b
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I'm quite impressed with that FormiCaster. Well, the formica is probably more flexable than Masonite so what I think I'll do is use some pine furring strips stacked and glued to hold the back and front together and bend up some of that formica to do the sides since I have NO idea where to get the material that covers the sides of old Dano guitars.

So, Thanx alot for finding that link to the Formicaster.

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I bent sides from masonite years back when I was a teenager. Didn't have much money and didn't know any better. I simply soaked the sides pieces in water for a while and bent and clamped it to a form and let it dry. I didn't know about hot pipes etc and hadn't even heard about Dano style guitars.

The guitar was a neck through something like a ES335.


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A pic would be great Litch. I did run across a pic of a dano style someplace on the web and I'll be damned if I can find it now. Keith, Thanx. I knew it could be done somehow, in fact, that's what I was going to try first, wetting it down and clamping it to a pine innner wall the same size as my masonite top.

Update-Found the pic of that dano style I was looking for. It's now on my blog.

Edited by PerryL
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i have some interesting imgs, i was thinking in do some like that too

this is supposed to be the interior of a vintage dano


a variation of the desing is the used in the reverend guitars


i got good pics of front, back and headstock, maybe i will do a set of plans if i have time

Edited by litchfield
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Cool! Let's hear about your guitar. What's the shape and what color laminate are you using?

I'm using Illawarra Brush, which I just ordered. You can find it here:


Select the pattern from the pulldown. I'm using grade 350 HPG, the horizontal postformable grade. I practiced bending on some scraps from a local kitchen/bath shop.

The sides are going to be 2 inch thick, with binding strips top and bottom for the top/back. I have a poplar center strip wide enough for the bridge and pick-ups. Black TOM bridge and a Seymour Duncan Alnico 2 neck pick-up (no bridge p-up, I play modern jazz). I'm using a Stewmac neck, only because they are inexpensive and I wanted to keep this one simple, in case it doesn't work out. I'd prefer to use a shorter scale neck, and if all goes well, will make the next one myself.

I'm 'borrowing' a shape from Pagelli, http://www.pagelli.com:


Between work and my kids, I'm moving really slow. I"ll post pictures when I get something done.

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I'm looking forward to seeing pictures, when they become available.

The Formicaster build is really an eye opener: cheap materials and no template required. His $2.95 200W bulb bending iron, makes the case for low cost of entry.

I'd like to try a 3/4 scale Jaguar/Mustang style guitar in red laminate with black bindings and pearloid pickguard.

There are some pretty convincing looking woodgrain laminates. Specimen built a guitar with curly maple and mahogany laminate. I wonder if it's possible to shoot a convincing sunburst on a woodgrain laminate.

Thanks for the Pagelli link... hadn't seen those before. They make some pretty nice designs.

These remind me of the Jetsons




something else entirely


cool acoustic


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As far as using wood grained laminates: my feeling is that it isn't wood, so why fake it? HPL laminate is a cool material in it's own right and is available in some stunning finishes. I made my 4yo daughter a bookshelf with this cool, lavender colored Formica that looks like a color wash type of finish. The material is so easy to work with.

The red laminate you are consindering sound cool. I considered a solid red top, with matte black sides and back, but didn't want to buy two sheets until I was sure of how they sound.

The low end Martin acoustics use some type of HPL for the sides and backs. Over at the MIMF, lots of people are making acoustic instruments with HPL sides and backs, still using tone woods for the tops.

Another advantage of HPL as a guitar material is the complete lack of finishing. Just wipe with a wet rag and play!

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I knew this would be great for the discussion. After looking at some of those Wilsonart Laminates, My mind raced with ideas for one of the Pagelli JoJazz style knockoff's. I've always been attracted to the Oversize swoopy looking guitars with the Italian styling.

I'm now totally into the idea now of making a semi acoustic with that stuff. No polish needed just a damp cloth to clean it up.

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As far as using wood grained laminates: my feeling is that it isn't wood, so why fake it? HPL laminate is a cool material in it's own right and is available in some stunning finishes.

I think the idea of using wood grained laminates is appealing, not because you'd fool anyone, but, that it's so cheesy! Sort of the same attraction to having your name spelled out on the fingerboard or body in lariat script with something that looks like rope.

I agree that there are lots of cool laminates to play with... patterns, solids, metallics, faux stone and wood. There are some cool old kitschy patterns out there.


Can't argue with the damp wash cloth cleanup. Need a coaster? No?


Some of the Girl Brand guitars have laminate tops and sides wrapped in the same polished aluminum edging you find on old Formica topped dinette sets. What's not to love?

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... My mind raced with ideas for one of the Pagelli JoJazz style knockoff's...

Can you believe that Nike hasn't got after him for that swoosh shaped f-hole :D

Hopefully, I'll get a chance to start bending my sides this weekend. Anyone have any thoughts on how a formica top will stand up to a string through (the formica will be backed by the poplar center block)? I'd like to avoid ferrels in the top.

Thanks for the girlbrand link. I really like his "anti-birds eye" stance.

Edited by kenneth_b
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Yep, Tirapop, ya gotta love that "Mother Of Toilet-seat" front and back on those Pagelli's. Jus wipe em down and wail away.

Kenneth, you should'nt have a thing to worry about the top not having ferrules, that stuff is really durable and holds an edge well. You are gonna put them in the back though, Rite? I still have to make up a drilling guide to drill the rear ferrule holes so they don't get drilled off center. Thinkin about some semi thick aluminum and laying out the holes and drilling they on my drill press with enough material surrounding them to clamp it to the top and I can drill em by hand then.

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