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Bending Sides with Silicone Blankets

Bending Sides with Silicone Blankets

by Michael Keller

from his 1990 GAL Convention workshop

Originally published in American Lutherie #25, 1991 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004

Althrough I attended the 1977 Guild convention in Tacoma, I exhibited my instruments for the first time at the following year’s convention in Winfield, Kansas. I visited Stuart Mossman’s shop while I was there, and I saw the side-bending mold that he had. It must have cost a fortune. It was about the size of a Volkswagen van standing on end, and it had all sorts of hydraulic pumps and pistons. In a production shop that kind of tooling might make sense, but for a small shop like mine, making twenty to thirty instruments a year and bending wood for repairs, I don’t need that kind of investment.

I bent sides for years over a hot pipe I bought at Lewis Music in Vancouver, B.C. I had to work at a regular job and save money for quite a while before I could afford to buy two Overholtzer side-bending molds. A friend of mine had a custom mold made by the Overholtzer company, and it cost $1,000, I believe. That’s a lot of money. I can bend guitar sides with either a hot pipe or a cast mold quickly and accurately, but I am in this to make a living, and if I can save time and money I will do it. That’s why I prefer my new method. By the way, would anybody like to buy two nice Overholtzer molds?

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