Last week I spent some time producing a number of components for future guitars. Normally I make in batches of 2 instruments at a time, although at the moment I am making 1 guitar and finishing off various long term projects at the same time. The picture above shows sets of ribs for future orders; the nearest ones, that look a bit blotchy at the moment, are satinwood. Most of the time these days I bend ribs in my side bender rather than on the traditional bending iron. It is quicker, more reliable on highly figured woods and releases me to work on more important parts of the guitar. I can bend ribs quickly by hand (I should be able to - I've bent enough of them!) but the bending machine takes a few minutes of of my time, and then I work on something else until it has cooled down. In the winter it helps to heat the workshop as well!
The bending machine I use is found in many guitar makers workshops these days. Designed by American guitar maker Charles Fox, it uses light bulbs as its' heat source and really is a tremendous bit of equipment.
I have also been busy preparing a bundle of fingerboards for future use. I have featured my table saw on a recent post, but I enjoy using it so much I thought I would mention it again. I have just cut the fret slots in 6 fingerboards and each board took about 3 minutes. It really saves time doing it this way and is very accurate.
I have listened to heated debates amongst makers concerning the use of machines verses traditional hand tools. There is a school of thought that believes a guitar will be better if made entirely by hand, and that any use of machinery will impair the quality of the final instrument. This is not a belief I share. Much as I love and respect fine hand tools and their usage, I am very happy to make use of machines and new manufacturing innovation and technology.