Binding 101

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Freeman Keller, Jan 24, 2020.

  1. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    If you really want to show off, bind your guitar with pearl inlay. This is the Martin style 41/42/45 binding, Taylor does a lot of it on their fancy models. Don’t tell anyone but its really not that hard, however there is a trick....

    You buy shell inlay material called "abalam" which very thin pieces of the actual shell laminated to a backing material. It comes in a variety of forms and can be cut to do head plate and fretboard inlays, but what you want for purfling are little straight or curved pieces typically about 5 inches long, 0.060 wide and 0.050 thick. Most of the lutherie supply houses sell them as do a couple of people who specialize in shell inlay material (Andy DePaule, Chuck Erikson).

    http://www.dukeofpearl.com/

    https://www.luthiersupply.com/

    When you buy it also get some teflon strips that is the same dimention - the usual stuff is 0.063 wide

    https://www.lmii.com/teflon-strips/2342-teflon-strip-063-x-063-thick-16mm-x-16mm.html

    When you lay out the channels you will have the outside binding as usual, then normally a couple of purfling lines, the pearl inlay, some more purfling lines. Instead of trying to fit the pearl strips into the sandwich you install the teflon to act as a place holder. Glue, including super glue, does not stick to Teflon. Here is a spruce topped guitar with rosewood binding, a bwb strip, the teflon, and another bwb. As before you can put the glue in the channel and try to work all the bits in or you can pre tape it in place with no glue and then tack it with CA.

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    After the glue has cured you can scrape back the binding and pufling

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    Thge pull out the Teflon and you have a perfectly sized channel to install the pearl – put short lengths in, snap it off as you go around corners

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    When the pearl is nicely in place flood the whole assembly with CA and scrape back

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    Use the same method to do a pearl rosette - route the channel big enough for any bwb's on each side plus the teflon. Put it together with the teflon, tack with CA, pull the teflon and install the pearl in the channel. Flood the whole rosette and scrape

    IMG_2342.JPG
     
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  2. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana Tele-Meister

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    mmhmm
    I wish I knew about those shell suppliers. I just used ZipFlex for my rosette and don't think I will use it again. It uses the thinnest shell and row of teeny squares on top of a thick flexible material. It's easy to use but I found it too fragile and too easy to scrape into when planing/scraping level. Also, since each square is small it doesn't have the nice continuous shine as a longer solid piece does as in your photos.

    Those guitars are beautiful. What size are they? They look smaller than an OM and is that one on the right a 12 fret? The body looks deep too. Gorgeous.
     
  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I've never used Zipflex so I can't comment. The guitars are built to Scott Antes "small concert" plans, they are roughly the same size as a single ought Martin. Some people, including me, would call them a "parlor" I've built three of them, the first was for my daughter, the second and third for a friend's daughter and for me. One is Madagascar rosewood, the other Brazilian.

    They were actually inspired by the 0-42 Martin that Joan Baez played, and being girlie guitars had to have a lot of bling.
     
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  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    The antithesis to the blingie Martin OM and D-45's of the 1930's (which are priceless today) are the really cheap little all mahogany models that they made. I am particularly fond of the 00 and 000-17's, like many of the inexpensive guitars they were either not bound or very simply bound. Here is a 1940 00-17

    IMG_3432.JPG

    I wanted to build my own tribute to these great little guitars but I wasn't sure about just having the end grain of the top and back exposed so I decided to bind it, but to make the binding as unobvious as I could. I used mahogany to match the top and back with absolutely no contrasting lines

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    If you look very closely you can see that its bound but from a distance it just looks like a 15 dollar Depression era guitar

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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I guess I'll add one more chapter to this before I let go - finishing a bound guitar. The first part of finishing is what to do with gaps between the binding that the body. Best thing is to not have gaps - fit the binding so well that gaps just don't exist. But they will and its tempting to fill them with wood glue or sawdust mixed with glue or something like that. Most of the time wood (and plastic) glues will show up under finish so I try to avoid that if I can. For dark woods a little sawdust of the same wood with epoxy or CA doesn't look too bad, with light woods it looks terrible. CA itself doesn't show up too badly - in most cases I drop fill small gaps with medium CA and scrape back.

    I treat plastic and wood binding completely differently when it comes to finish. Plastic binding does not absorb stain or finish so it can simply be finished over the top and scraped back to the plastic. Normally I'll mask larger surfaces of plastic binding - like the 1/4 inch sides - but not the thin top edge, just scrape it. I did kind of a poor job of masking this, it got some paint under the tape, but it cleans up fine with a box cutter scraper
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    After scraping it all back to white spray the clear top coats and it will blend in perfectly.

    Wood binding wants to absorb stain and color from the finish. I have had a variety of luck trying to prevent this - usually what I will do is paint a thin line of shellac or vinyl sealer on the binding and purfling with an artists brush, then scrape that back later. In this case I wanted to stain the entire neck but keep some fine white lines unstained, I put the stain on before the binding

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    Then added the binding. The little maple lines stand out nice and clear

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    My point is to keep thinking about these things long before you actually do them and if necessary do some experimenting with scrap.
     
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  6. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Great write up and illustration Freeman! I've never seen amateur anywhere in your work. You've even given me some shop envy!

    Eric
     
  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you Eric. I have no shop, there is nothing to envy. I've bought the tools that I need as I need them, but what I'm really trying show here is how (relatively) easy it is to do some pretty cool looking stuff. Maybe I can inspire someone to give it a try.
     
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  8. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana Tele-Meister

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    For the pearl above did you get a bunch of random curved pieces or did you have to shape some of them to fit the channel?
     
  9. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    In that case I bought some straight and some curved but you can actually do it all with straight pieces believe it or not. This was the very first pearl inlay that I did about 10 years ago and I'm just using straight pieces. Insert the end in the channel and give it a little flex, it snaps right off. Push the end tightly into the piece in the channel and snap again, you can work your way right around the curve and the little pieces look just fine

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    Your supplier might also offer curved pieces, they are usually about the right radius for a rosette but can be used around the sides like I showed above - get the best fit and snap them off into short lengths as required.

    Incidentally, that guitar was the third one that I built and I still play it often
     
  10. flemsmith

    flemsmith NEW MEMBER!

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    Excellent write-up, thanks! One question, if you find yourself needing to replace the binding on a repair guitar (already finished), do you do anything different with the CA to protect the finish? Would you also shellac the binding channels? Definitely adding this to my saved guitar bookmark. Roy
     
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