Sunday, June 2, 2013

Flat Top Tele - Up Around The Bend

Hitch a ride to the end of the highway
Where the neons turn to wood. 

I had some time over the long Memorial Day weekend to experiment with my electric heatgun wood bender.  Between the mild spring weather, and the possibility this thing going up in flames, the outdoors seemed like the perfect place for getting acquainted with this new gizmo.  After attaching a full-sized plot of the dimensioned Telecaster body drawing to a piece of chip board, I plugged the heat gun into an extension cord and flipped on the switch.  An 8-feet long, 4-1/2-inch wide piece of 1/8-inch thick oak laminate kickboard I came across at Home Depot made for a great practice piece while learning the abilities and limits of this tool.

After a few minutes, I found that the pipe heats up quickly and evenly, and is great at producing gentle curves.

The curves near the neck-to-body joint of the Tele were already proving to be problematic.  This was especially troubling, since the grain on the inner laminate of this piece of wood runs in the width direction.  It would take more than a couple of clamps to get the bent wood to line up with the tighter curves.

After letting a piece soak for about 15 minutes, I found I could use the hot pipe to get the wood loosened up enough to bend it around a wooden dowel.


Even after allowing the wood to dry overnight, much of the bend sprung open when I released the clamps.  It clearly would take some other technique to produce the small radius bends at the neck-to-body joint.

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