This is the 5 Best Tips for Making Acoustic Guitar Sides. In this post, you’ll learn the five things you need to know before making your guitar sides. Enjoy.
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Making Acoustic Guitar Sides
The sides of your acoustic guitar set the distance between your top plate and your back plate, and they provide structure to make your body three dimensional.
These are typically a couple of thin pieces of wood that are bent with steam and heat in order to take the profile shape. While they are a fairly straightforward part of the building process, there are some tips that can help you have a better experience.
If this is your first time, even bending the wood can be a little intimidating. However, if you practice and you worry less about the process, you’ll do just fine. After your first couple sets, you’ll be a pro.
Mill the Pieces Thin Enough to Bend
One of the best things you can do in the beginning is make sure that you mill your sides thin enough that they bend easily. This is a very common mistake for beginners.
Thinning the material using a hand plane or using a powered thickness planer, make sure that you get down to around a 10th of an inch.
Anything thicker than this is going to be a little bit more difficult to bend, and that can cause additional problems as a beginner. It will take longer to heat the wood to bending temperature, which can lead to frustration, pressing too hard, and breaking your piece.
Don’t Mill Too Thinly
Also, make sure that you don’t mill the pieces to thinly. If you go to bend them, especially with heavily figured or very grainy pieces of wood, the layers can separate as you bend.
This is obviously a problem, because it essentially creates large cracks and separations that need to be filled, or you need to get a new piece of wood. In most cases, you’ll have to just get a new case of wood and start over.
This is a waste of time, so don’t go past 1/10th of an inch on your thickness.
See Also: Bending Acoustic Guitar Sides
Bend Using a Form in the Beginning
As a beginner, another smart thing you can do is use a bending form. This is a three-dimensional machine like jig that helps to precisely bend your pieces of wood in the exact shape of the sides of your guitar.
This eliminates a lot of the beginner mistakes that crop up like not being able to bend the sides to the right shape, altering the geometry of the guitar.
When you use a bending form, if you can make sure that the piece is pressed against form really well, you don’t have to worry about it being incorrectly shaped later on.
Clamp the Sides to a Form to Cool
No matter how you do your bends, even if you are going to go straight with the hot pipe to begin with, clamp the sides in your mold to allow them to cool. If you are using a bending form, just turn off the form and allow the piece to cool in place.
Freshly bent pieces of wood will want to return to the shape that they were once in before you started bending process. This means your pieces will want to flatten out if you don’t clamp them into something to set their shape.
Your guitar body mold is the perfect place to clamp your sides after they are bent because it is the exact same shape that you want your final guitar to end up. Clamp them against the walls carefully, making sure there are no gaps.
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Taper Using a Jig
Your final tip on making your guitar sides is to taper them using a jig. Resist the urge to just do this free hand, and instead make yourself a jig.
The time you spend making the jig will be returned several times over by the reduction in time that you get when it comes time to taper your sides.
These are a super easy to make, and you can use a couple of tapered sticks with a thin sheet of plywood or MDF as a skin. Make it so that way the piece screws to the top of your body mold, and it will be very easy to install and use.
See Also: Using a Guitar Mold
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know these five great tips on making your acoustic guitar sides the best that you possibly can, it’s time to get out into the shop and take action.
If you’ve been kicking around the idea of making an acoustic guitar for a while, it’s definitely not as difficult as you think. It’s just like any other woodworking project, you just have to have patience, and be willing to probably learn a few new things.
Also, if you are worried about getting all the tools you need, my acoustic guitar making book shows you how to make all the tools templates and jigs that you need to be successful as a guitar maker. It will save you a lot of money over buying them.
So, get that guitar started. Once the day comes when you are holding a finished instrument in your hands that you created yourself, you will be so happy you did.
If you have any questions about making your guitar sides, please ask a question and I’ll be glad to help.
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