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Light Bulb For Bending Iron


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Ive seen a few bending irons made from an aluminium pipe with a 200 watt lightbulb in it. I am in Australia and I went down to a Electrical store and they didnt even have any :D ...They said they could get them in but only in a big round shape that wouldnt possibly fit in a aluminium tube.....

Does anyone in australia know of these? If we can get them here? Or anyone in the states suggest somewhere online I could purchase one?

Thanks alot


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Ahh how about using a propane torch?

I know I can get my hands on one of those..it just seems that it would be hard to control the temperature...how crucial is that?

Temp is important. You need to get the wood up to about 300 deg. F to bend. I have two bending tools. One is a side bending machine that uses flood lamps. The other is a heavy 4" cast iron pipe(about 30" or so long). I picked up a BBQ charcoal starting element and placed it in the pipe. It takes it about 5 min. to come up to temp. (block one end to keep heat in). After it is up to temp. it provides nice stable heat at about the right temp(this is with the element left on during the whole time- pipe cooling limits overheating). I would recommend a heavy pipe like this because it really makes for better bending.


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About ten years ago, halogen floor lamps were popular in the states. You could get them at department, hardware, and houseware stores starting around 20USD. Most of them got recalled because they were so hot, if placed too close to the drapes, they'd start a fire. The fix was a cage over the bulb to keep fabrics at a "safe" distance. Did they ever get those in Aus?

They show up around here at yard sales. They'd be great for a bender. The lamp element is very narrow. The lamps that were sold in the states had dimmers... perfect for adjusting the temperature.

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Why can't you fit a soldering iron inside the tube?

I could but i didnt think it would be hot enough?

Ahh about the halogens..yea we can get those here for sure but dont then need a connection at both ends of the globe?jst wondering how that would go with water dripping around the connections...at least with the one sided bulbs, you can have the tube attached to ply with one end closed....

I really didnt want to spend the $179 at stew mac for one at least not for my first attempt at making an accoustic instrument but mabye Ill have to.

Has anyone had experience in using a propane torch? is it easy to get the right temp? I guess you would just need a thermometer...

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I don't know about any of this, I'm just conjecturing...(although I'd be interested in building a hollow-body later on down the road...

Easy enough to test if the thing gets hot enough...here's some info I found ...

The tube is at the right temperature for bending when a drop of water &"dances" on it. If it evaporates immediately, the tube is too hot, and if nothing is heard, the tube is too cold.

But I had another idea...you can get heating elements for making tea --they're like little electric wands you put in a cup of water to boil it for tea....well, I think they boil the water...and if it's hot enough to boil water, than it should be hot enough to heat your tube, right?

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I have seen bending tool made with a torch pointing into a piece of steel pipe.

I'm thinking that if you play with the distance between the end of the pipe and the torch you could adjust the temp to a certain extent.

Then if you put a cap on the other end you could drill holes to let some heat escape and adjust that way too.

Between the two you could play with the above until you get the temp right.

Just thinking out loud.

Good Luck,

d ward

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If you are going to be bending sides. I recommend you build a side bending machine. Seriously- it is a much better way to bend. You can buy all the wood and hardware(including main pressing screw, springs, flood lamps, dimmer for heat control and so forth) for less than $75. A bending pipe is still handy for touch up. As far as the heat source for the pipe. A charcoal lighting element will run $10-$15(and can be purchased at most hardware or variety stores). A torch will work fine, but you need to play with it and capping one end to get the temp correct. I would stray away from light bulbs as a heat source in a pipe(mainly because it is more complicated and slower to bring to temp-not to mention recovery time may be slow). If you only use the pipe for a little touch up work it will be easyier to deal with regulating heat for shorter periods of time. Pipe bender should only run you a few dollars if you can find the pipe cheap or a scrap from a construction project. The key to good bending is getting enough heat. Most people that wind up having trouble don't get the wood warm enough. When it is hot enough it will bend very easily(not forced or bent with much pressure) and as long as it cools back down in the shape you want it will hold the shape. My point being make sure you build something that will get the wood to temp. readily or build a machine that works slower but holds the shape while you let it get to temp.

P.S. An effiectient system will also allow for less water to be used during the process.


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Wow...thanks for the all the advice...

This is my first hollow body instrument so Im not so sure thats its going to work out or not to be honest. If it turns out great then I would definately like to build a side bending machine. I will probably just use a pipe bender for this tho..expecially because its just a uke.

those tea elements and barbeque starteds sound great..Ill look into that today.

Again thanks alot for all the advice.

Hopefully Ill come up with something. Id love to just buy the real thing but as we all know theres so many other things to buy and it really ads up :D

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