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View Full Version : Heating blanket and bending slats UK



Kevs-the-name
04-05-2015, 12:52 PM
Hi all,
Can anybody suggest anywhere that I can source these from in the UK.
I have found the blanket on eBay from China, just hoped I could get it quicker and easier!

Is the 5x24 the most suitable size? (Ukulele building only)
Thank you

Michael Smith
04-05-2015, 04:56 PM
I think it's easier to bend both sides with the 6 inch wide

Pete Howlett
04-05-2015, 08:46 PM
I hand bend and then set each side individually on a form with a 3" blanket bought from Watlow fired up full power for 4 minutes. I have the Chinese blankets but have yet to try them out... They are recommended (Kenovo) by a guy here in the UK so I am assuming they are fine.

resoman
04-06-2015, 05:39 AM
My Kenovo is a very nice blanket but bought one with the thermostat on it which is not necessary. It's not accurate and just gets in the way. You can get them without. I ended up cutting mine off.

PeterF
04-06-2015, 07:02 AM
I don't mean to hijack the thread, but what bending equipment do you actually need for a ukulele? All the guitar bender plans I've looked at need complicated digital timers and thermostats and a lot of wiring. Is it possible, given the thinner and smaller nature of ukulele sides to simply use the blanket on its own and manually time it and switch it off when it's done?
I'm also in the UK, and have only found the keenovo blankets on ebay so far.

Huvvers
04-06-2015, 07:15 AM
I just received three sizes from Keenovo, 6x24, 2x5, and 2x14 along with the Omron controller. After trying to interpret the destruction s, I am going to have to get pro advice for the setup and operation. The 6in width was a custom requests, made to fully cover my freshly made bending forms. My hope is that the controls will perform reasonably well. Gary

Michael N.
04-06-2015, 11:44 AM
I don't mean to hijack the thread, but what bending equipment do you actually need for a ukulele? All the guitar bender plans I've looked at need complicated digital timers and thermostats and a lot of wiring. Is it possible, given the thinner and smaller nature of ukulele sides to simply use the blanket on its own and manually time it and switch it off when it's done?
I'm also in the UK, and have only found the keenovo blankets on ebay so far.

Pipe and a little propane torch! That's about as cheap and easy as it gets. Years ago I had a solid aluminium casting made, egg shaped profile. I stuck an electrical heating cartridge element in it. Quickest I've ever bent a side (one side) was just under 5 minutes. Unfortunately they don't always go that quick.You can get awfully quick at hand bending sides if you do enough of them consecutively. I don't do enough of them consecutively. At one time I did think of building a form and using the blanket. In the end I decided that the time saving probably wasn't enough to justify it.
You can do what you suggest. You don't need the timers or thermostats. You probably do need a thermometer reading unless you do it by 'feel' and are prepared to lose a few side pieces in the practice. Of course you will have to manually turn everything off and stand by the 'machine' at all times.
This guy uses a pretty simple affair:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUJbB0pa7Zs

Pete Howlett
04-06-2015, 01:16 PM
Blanket and forms = tabs and video - You do not really learn about bending unless you have done an apprenticeship with some form of bending iron like you don't learn properly to play until you can recognise what you are trying to copy by ear. And don't believe all you read and see - I've just watched a video of someone hand bending talking about water introducing steam... or some such explanation. I have my iron running at between 300 to 312 degrees Fahrenheit. Introduce water/steam and you simply lower the temperature to the boiling point of water. When I do use water it is to cool the iron to avoid scorching because I have forgotten to lower the temperature for koa (very critical). I do use a form and blanket to set hand bends - the reverse of most who use an iron to correct spring back! You can compensate for spring back by exaggerating the curves but bear in mind it took Taylor's R&D guy the best part of a year to get this right (along with all the other technical challenges associated with developing their automated set-up - I'm sure it wasn't a whole year devoted to this one aspect :) )

It's time for Chuck to chime in with his advice on his fool proof set-up ( didn't work for class A fools like Pete Howlett). My principle objection to using any method that involves water, koa and heat blankets is the inevitable discolouration that occurs. I tried everything but could not avoid the green tint that always appeared even with de-ionised distilled water. Now I am sure there will be a counter to my experience so before you post - I personally will not be persuaded. I've been hand bending for so long now a set of tenor sides takes me just 8 minutes - it is for me, the most satisfying part of the building process.

Michael Smith
04-06-2015, 07:02 PM
Side bending for a ukulele is pretty much the same as a guitar. You are making tighter bends on the ukulele baring cutaway so it is actually a little more difficult to bend ukulele sides. You don't need any more or any less equipment. It just depends on how slick of a bending system you want. That decision is usually based on how many you plan to make and your tool using style.


I don't mean to hijack the thread, but what bending equipment do you actually need for a ukulele? All the guitar bender plans I've looked at need complicated digital timers and thermostats and a lot of wiring. Is it possible, given the thinner and smaller nature of ukulele sides to simply use the blanket on its own and manually time it and switch it off when it's done?
I'm also in the UK, and have only found the keenovo blankets on ebay so far.

PeterF
04-07-2015, 07:47 AM
Sorry I didn't really make myself very clear in my question. I have used a bending iron quite a lot and would like to make a bending machine setup with a heating blanket, but it's the electronics side of it that is putting me off. It just seems much simpler to have a blanket and a thermometer and just turn the thing on and off by hand when it gets too hot or cold. I'm not doing this professionally so wasting time watching over it while it cooks isn't a concern to me. I was just wondering whether its a possible method of doing it.

Pete Howlett
04-07-2015, 08:27 AM
I have a voltage regulator bought off eBay for my branding iron - that would help control temperature... or you could use my iron.blanket method :)

FarmerBill
04-07-2015, 09:31 AM
Sorry I didn't really make myself very clear in my question. I have used a bending iron quite a lot and would like to make a bending machine setup with a heating blanket, but it's the electronics side of it that is putting me off. It just seems much simpler to have a blanket and a thermometer and just turn the thing on and off by hand when it gets too hot or cold. I'm not doing this professionally so wasting time watching over it while it cooks isn't a concern to me. I was just wondering whether its a possible method of doing it.

I use a blanket with an on off switch, that is all you need. When they get hot the wood will bend around the jig, leave it on for a for a bit then cool and move to a holding jig. I spray water on the sides and wrap them in foil and heat you know they are hot when the steam starts. Never walk away when it is on, they can cause a fire.

Michael Smith
04-07-2015, 10:05 AM
Sorry I didn't really make myself very clear in my question. I have used a bending iron quite a lot and would like to make a bending machine setup with a heating blanket, but it's the electronics side of it that is putting me off. It just seems much simpler to have a blanket and a thermometer and just turn the thing on and off by hand when it gets too hot or cold. I'm not doing this professionally so wasting time watching over it while it cooks isn't a concern to me. I was just wondering whether its a possible method of doing it.

That would be a very good setup. You in no way need a temperature controller. I only made one because I'm a gear head. In truth it isn't all that useful.

RPA_Ukuleles
04-07-2015, 10:48 AM
I use a rotary light switch dimmer. Was $5 at the home center.

78249

Kevs-the-name
04-07-2015, 01:13 PM
Thank you all for the useful info.
I will probably be purchasing a 6x24 inch blanket (custom made for me) from eBay
It will not have any electronics a such. only on or off.
Metal slats are work in progress: still deciding!

Still considering the bending iron too. I just think I will have more success with a bending jig.