If you goggle “bending curly koa” you’ll find quite a number of horror stories about sides snapping on the curls. Great! The koa for John’s guitar is the most expensive back and side set that I’ve bought and it’s prone to snapping when you bend it! The general advice is to have the sides a little thinner than normal and bend them dry, just moisten with a spray.
Now, I have always soaked my sides, so I thought that I’d have a practice of dry bending. This is where the baritone uke comes in- If I’m going to bend a set of sides, I just as well have something to show for it. So, I bent a set of maple sides for the uke dry and was remarkably surprised at how easy they bent. One thing leads to another and I find myself building a uke!
Here are the sides, end blocks in and linings being glued in place.
I’m using a marquetry strip down the centre of the back.
And a cocobolo rosette (no prizes for guessing where the wood came from).
Oh, the koa- 2mm thick, bent dry, a few sprays of water for a bit of moisture- no problems!
So you can teach an old dog new tricks!