Woodworking – making a bending iron

Posted by jerry on December 28th, 2008 — Posted in Music, Woodwork

While I successfully used a piece of water pipe and a blow torch for forming the sides of my travel violin, I felt I needed something more reliable for the mandolin. I had read of the possibility of using a heat gun – the sort used to strip paint – to provide a steady heat source, but saw no plans for doing so.

It was time to think it through and find my own solution. And here it is.

luthier's bending iron

Please note that the air needs a place to escape so that the end of the heat gun doesn’t melt. But the solution is a durable one.

luthier's bending iron

The pipe structure comprises an internal plug with a square top – which is held in the vise. Attached is an T-junction connector, with one opening towards the heat gun, the other vertical. To the vertical end is attached a short piece of water pipe using a connector. And that’s it. The heat enters the wider aperture of the T-junction, finds the lower aperture plugged, and diverts up the vertical tube. The vertical tube is narrower than the T-junction, so the tube gets to be heated, while waste air is released out the top – away from the person doing the bending.

luthier's bending iron

On the hot setting (600C) the vertical tube is plenty hot enough to boil water on contact, but because the waste heat can escape, there is no heat buildup to melt the heat gun, and there is no hot blast of air against the body of the operator.

The proof is in this piece of binding which was used to test the bending iron.

luthier's bending iron


Comment by Max Tresmond

Does it work as well as a factory made bending iron?

Posted on January 7, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Comment by jerry

I haven’t used a factory made bending iron, but I have bent the sides of my mandolin quite successfully with it, so I would say it does.


Posted on January 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Comment by Davey

Now thats creative 🙂 Good Job!!

Posted on September 26, 2009 at 7:31 am

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