Making the Sides

Traditionally, luthiers bent sides around a hot pipe. Here, a heated aluminum jig is being used. First the hot shoe is used to bend the sharpest side bend, the waist.
Next, the lower bout is bent.
Followed by the upper bout. Typically, the curves of the bending jig are slightly exaggerated compared to the actual shape of the instrument. This is to compensate for 'spring back', the tendency for wood to remember and try to attain its original shape.
The bent sides are then placed in a jig to hold them while they cool.
Copyright, Shel Sax, July 2001. No reproduction without authorization.
Photographs by Howard Rossman