With the blanks cut out, the next task is to get them ready for bending. The goal is to be as efficient as possible at this task because it is not to hard to break a stick during the bending and you don’t want to have too much time invested in a broken stick. I was told during my training that the breakage rate is some where around 20%. I have actually never broken a stick myself. Perhaps I am just lucky or maybe I just happen to have good wood.
To prepare for bending the back two thirds of the stick is brought down to 2 mm above final dimension and the front one third is tapered down so that just behind the head it is 1 mm above final dimension. The side angle of the head (about 6 degrees) is also formed. The whole stick is made octagonal at this time as well. The reason for the extra wood towards the back is that the sticks tend to twist as they are bent. The extra wood allows for the facets to be re-cut if they twist.
The next step is to layout the shape of the head on the stick and to very accurately carve the throat (or back of the head).
The last step is to carefully clean up the bottom 3 facets and to bind with wire any areas that look like they have potential to break during the bending process.
We are now ready to bend. Fingers crossed!