A method fabricates a side shield for a magnetic transducer having a nonmagnetic layer and an ABS location corresponding to an ABS. The nonmagnetic layer has a pole trench therein. The pole trench has a shape and location corresponding to the pole. A wet etchable layer is deposited. Part of the wet etchable layer resides in the pole trench. A pole is formed. The pole has a bottom and a top wider than the bottom in the pole tip region. Part of the pole in the pole tip region is in the pole trench on at least part of the wet etchable layer. At least parts of the wet etchable layer and the nonmagnetic layer are removed, forming an air bridge. The air bridge is between part of the pole at the ABS location and an underlying layer. Side shield layer(s) that substantially fill the air bridge are deposited.