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Bending Maple Binding


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Hey all. I have maple binding that is to go around the top of my LP, but I was wondering what an inexpensive way to bend it would be? I don't have enough money to buy a bending iron... would it be possible to make one myself? GENIUS IDEA!! What about using a curling iron? Haha! Also, what are the steps to doing this? I know I shouldn't saturate the wood with TOO much water... or maybe I don't know that and just think that... any tips are appreciated :D I've never done binding before, and I heard that maple is the hardest to bend

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you could use a 4 inch diameter pipe and a propane torch as your bending iron. LMII has some info on bending figured maple. I'll be building my first acoustic guitar soon so I have been reading as much as possible on the subject. There is also some videos on youtube of a guy bending acoustic guitar sides. For bending wood, one of the books I bought says to soak the wood for 10 mins in hot water and then go to it with the bending iron. Hope that helps some.

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Nonono, yu burn alcohol into the pipe and then start bending the maple, watchout, put a high quantity of water to the wood because it may crack easily.

PTU 7's- Have you ever used the tools or methods you are describing, with success?

Memphetic, Do a couple searches on this subject, or even go dig around the acoustic section. The subject of bending tool options and methods comes up fairly often. I would give you a better responce, but I have to make this short. Key ideas though- Even stable heating source(controlable, and can maintain its heat), your ability to support the wood to prevent breakage and provide even bending, only use as much water is needed (too much can increase the likelyhood of splitting, too little can make heating tuff and increase the chance of scortching), above all else... Thickness is hugely important in how hard it is to heat and bend (.06" is a world easier than .08" for example).

Peace,Rich

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What rich said. Minimal water (particularly with figured woods), metal slat for backing your bends (aluminum will do for this kind of thing), and a round, hot thing. Propane works, I use a rolling pin wrapped in tin foil with a heat blanket draped over the top, because I do 99% of all my bending over bending forms. Not a cheap option, though, that I'll give you.

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  • 3 weeks later...
So nobody's ever tried a (hair) curling iron?

This is one of those deals where you can give it a go and see what you think. A stick of maple binding is only a couple bucks, so your not out much if it doesn't fly. Your shooting to get the wood up to about 300 deg. F (throughout its thickness), keep that in mind when you are bending. When you have reached working temp, the wood will pretty much sag under its own weight.

Peace,Rich

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I don`t know if it`s just me, but I`m not able to bend figured maple binding for the tight cutaway of the les paul. all the other areas work just fine. but in the cutaway is gonna be hard to bend the wood without breaking.

maybe that`s why they use plastic binding on the les paul, and maybe that`s why prs has the natural binding.

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I don`t know if it`s just me, but I`m not able to bend figured maple binding for the tight cutaway of the les paul. all the other areas work just fine. but in the cutaway is gonna be hard to bend the wood without breaking.

maybe that`s why they use plastic binding on the les paul, and maybe that`s why prs has the natural binding.

Oh it is possible, the tighter you get the better you have to be able to deliver the heat, and stabalize the wood. Take a small piece of maple binding(scrap about 8" long), and place it in the microwave with the ends setting on two microwave safe stands(something to keep it up about an inch or so. Than place an object that again is microwave safe, but has a bit of weight to it(not a lot, just a couple ounces). Heat the binding up until you see it start to deflect(sag). Then (be sure you are wearing glove the wood will be very hot) open the microwave pull the binding out, and wrap it around a Coke bottle, or heavy cardboard tube. Be sure to push the wood against the bottle or tub, don't hold one end and wrap it, you have to push the wood against the form to support it properly.

P.S. If you don't know what you can and can't put in a microwave skip this, an oven is slower but can work for a test like this (bake at 350 as always). This is just a way to illustrate what happens at the proper temp. Pay attension to how flexable the wood becomes when you are there. This will help you identify when it is ready to bend using common bending methods.

Peace,Rich

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Nonono, yu burn alcohol into the pipe and then start bending the maple, watchout, put a high quantity of water to the wood because it may crack easily.

PTU 7's- Have you ever used the tools or methods you are describing, with success?

Peace,Rich

Yeah, it works. It's the system to bend the sides of the acoustics also.

Frank.

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Nonono, yu burn alcohol into the pipe and then start bending the maple, watchout, put a high quantity of water to the wood because it may crack easily.

PTU 7's- Have you ever used the tools or methods you are describing, with success?

Peace,Rich

Yeah, it works. It's the system to bend the sides of the acoustics also.

Frank.

yes a hot pipe is the way a lot of people bend acoustic sides. Nobody has an issue with you suggesting that! the problem is that the cup of alchol would not burn consistently or for very long - that makes it hard to get and maintain a good bending temperature.

Much better to use a propane torch aimed inside the metal pipe with a cap on the end to keep the heat in and practice!!

i havnt done acoustic sides with this yet but i have had a few goes at wooden binding - mixed results so far on the tighter curves because i am still practicing

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just a little hint.

Back in the good old days when ships were built from wood, the planks had to be bent in all kinds of shapes.

since a 2"X 8" log of oak is a teansy bit harder to bend than a piece of maple binding, they put the damn thing in what we in denmark call a "sweat-cuffin".

It's nothing more than a wooden box (with a lid that is) and a hoze and a kettle. then you steam the item till it reaches the plasticity you desire.

since you don't work on such large scale items i reckon that the hoze and the kettle will be sufficient.

perhaps a piece of drain pipe will do.

happy experiments.

Edited by vildskud
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just a little hint.

Back in the good old days when ships were built from wood, the planks had to be bent in all kinds of shapes.

since a 2"X 8" log of oak is a teansy bit harder to bend than a piece of maple binding, they put the damn thing in what we in denmark call a "sweat-cuffin".

It's nothing more than a wooden box (with a lid that is) and a hoze and a kettle. then you steam the item till it reaches the plasticity you desire.

since you don't work on such large scale items i reckon that the hoze and the kettle will be sufficient.

perhaps a piece of drain pipe will do.

happy experiments.

I saw a special on the History channel about how they use a steam box or pipe to heat planks. Pretty amazing stuff.

There was a time when even Martin used to boil sides for acoustics then slap them on a form and lock them in place to cool then dry. That practice is all but done for most builders because better methods(safer, faster, more consistent) are available and commonly used.

Whatever system you use you have to be able to deliver the heat, and do so without damaging the wood. The use of water, steam, and more commonly now veneer softeners (similar to fabric softener) can be used to assist in the process. Most will agree the best method is a delivery system that does the job with the least risk, and offers consistent results.

Peace,Rich

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I found a curling iron that has adjustable heat.. if it can get to 300-350 degrees on one of the settings, I'll try that and report my findings :D Same with my adjustable wattage soldering iron, though it's a little more primitive. We'll see what happens. Necessity is the mother of invention :D

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Woot! I found a curling iron for $19 at a drug store that heats up to 395 degrees and works perfectly! I have bent the binding for around the whole guitar, however, I'm having a load of trouble making the bend for around the cutaway (I did it in three pieces because one single wouldn't be long enough and I knew that I would have trouble with the cutaway anyways, so I did it this way to waste less wood). I've had the wood separate on the outside in all of my attempts... are there any tricks for making bends of this extreme tightness?

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Woot! I found a curling iron for $19 at a drug store that heats up to 395 degrees and works perfectly! I have bent the binding for around the whole guitar, however, I'm having a load of trouble making the bend for around the cutaway (I did it in three pieces because one single wouldn't be long enough and I knew that I would have trouble with the cutaway anyways, so I did it this way to waste less wood). I've had the wood separate on the outside in all of my attempts... are there any tricks for making bends of this extreme tightness?

The suggestions for making the tight bend would be what was suggested above. Support it well, and deliver the heat.

Have you had a chance to dry fit the binding(actually taping it in place)? Be sure you do that before you start glueing, as it will clue you in if there are any wobbly areas that could use a bit of touch up.

Peace,Rich

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