"Liliana", my tiny Torres replica - bending sides and putting together "the box".
Updated: Apr 5, 2021
After profiling all of the top braces and harmonic bars and cleaning up the side profiles of the heel, it was on to bending the sides and fitting everything together. Unless I am working with highly figured wood or the sides have some glued-in inlay/laminate as part of their design, I lightly spritz the sides with water and wrap them in parchment paper before bending them in my Fox-style bender with a silicone heating blanket and thermostat. Generally speaking, I begin the bending process at ~240° F and allow the bender to reach a maximum of 285° before I shut it off. Once the sides have cooled down, I again heat everything up to 285°, shut it off, and again let the sides cool before I remove them from the bender. That extra heat/cool cycle helps lock in the bent shape.
Starting with sides thickness sanded to 1.3mm, by the time they are spritzed with water, heated, bent, and in place on the solera, they typically increase a bit (0.1 - 0.2mm) in thickness, as seen below. Once everything is together and finish sanded, the sides should end up ~1.0 - 1.2mm thick.
Also, before fitting the sides I cleaned up the table saw marks on the heel to insure a nice, smooth profile (you can also see the beginnings of the Torres pointed heel/neck join as I semi-profiled the heel prior to fitting the sides).
The key to making a good, tight fit of the sides into the heelblock is the preparation of the tapered wedges. They need to be a press fit into the slots. I actually use a rubber mallet to drive the wedge all the way up against the inside of the soundboard. Once they are glued in place and edges are trimmed flush to the sides of the heelblock, they are virtually invisible to any visual inspection through the soundhole. I then cut then the wedges flush to the bottom of the Spanish foot.
Prior to fitting the sides, the neck was glued to the soundboard. You see a small tab of the soundboard that extends into the neck. When the soundboard was cut to final size, I retained a small section of the oversize material, a tab 35mm wide to correspond with the 35mm wide section of the neck between the slots for the sides/wedges. This small tab assists in properly aligning the centerlines of the neck and the soundboard. It also provides an area to shoot a couple of staples or small brads to secure everything in place while the soundboard and neck are clamped and the glued surfaces completely dry.
Finally, the Spanish cedar endblock and kerfed linings were glued in place . Both the heelblock and endblock were left proud of the sides. Because the back will have a 28' radius, the excess height will be radius sanded to conform to that slight doming of the back.
Next up - radius sanding, profiling the back braces, and fitting the back and kerfed linings. It is almost a completed "box".