Binding Cracks

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by WrayGun, Sep 16, 2019.

  1. WrayGun

    WrayGun Tele-Afflicted

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    Is there a “best practice” way of fixing cracks in old (like 75 years old) binding? The owner of this guitar does not want to do a full re-binding, but wants the cracks stabilized. I was thinking’s of melting some plastic binding in acetone and placing some in the cracks, and leveling it out. And then brushing on some amber lacquer or shellac to get the color close. Is that crazy?

    Any thoughts are appreciated![​IMG]


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  2. Artslap

    Artslap Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    That's what I would do.

    Stabilize the binding adjacent to the damage first the plug the damage with the dissolved materiel.

    Be careful with the color of the "filler" binding.

    CP.
     
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  3. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Your guess is as good as mine ... Clear CA fill to stabilize and fill ... Then forget the finish ... It will look old and beat, but at least it will be stable ... A cheap resto attempt will look cheap ...
     
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  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Sometimes that old binding is just too rotten to try to "stabilize". I had an old Ibanez L5 copy and ended up just rebinding it

    IMG_3875.JPG IMG_3876.JPG IMG_3877.JPG IMG_3893.JPG
    IMG_3919.JPG

    IMG_3921.JPG

    You will want to add a couple of drops of amber to your lacquer when you shoot it.
     
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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    I'll add a second comment to the above. If you do not want to replace the binding I would do the minimum to stabilize what you have. Tape it tightly in place leaving gaps in the tape, wick some water thin CA (StewMac #10 or equal) into the seams, pull the tape and run CA into all the seams. If you have trouble holding the binding in place try a piece of UHMW (cutting board material) as a push stick and hit the CA with accelerator.

    Frankly I would do the minimum of cosmetic repairs - drop fill any large gaps but don't try to hide the cracks - you'll just make them look worse and out of character with the rest of the guitar. The binding will continue to crack and someday you (or someone) will want to replace it - don't make it harder.
     
  6. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Meister

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    I'll 3rd Freeman's comment. I've talked to several well-known luthiers over the years about this very question, and all have said that it is acceptible practice to replace binding if needed, and it does not detract from the value of the instrument. Back in the day, cellulose binding, pick guards, etc. just simply gass'd out and decentigraded... like you're seeing on your guitar. There's no way to save it. It will continue to fall apart because of it's nature. It was early attempts at what is now called "plastic" and sometimes the stuff lasts forever, sometimes it falls apart and no one really knows why. Example - I've got a 1914 L-1 and the pick guard and celuloid tailpiece are in mint condition and totally stable, but the binding is falling apart like yours! I need to have it restored actually. So... if you try to repair it you're only repairing something that will continue to fall apart... like new windsheild blades on a busted windsheild... hope this helps and good luck!
     
  7. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    If the OP's binding just shrunk, hardened, and cracked then you could attempt re-gluing it - just be aware that the same glue carries a risk of also marring the surrounding finish. Remaining gaps can be filled with binding melted in acetone (my favorite method is to grind up some plastic sawdust using a wood rasp so it will melt faster in the acetone but it does take at least overnight). Then you can file the lumps smooth but they'll be whiter than the original, and so will any areas of the old binding that you rub with a file or scraper.

    If it's old celluloid that decided to off-gas and disintegrate, as in Freeman's example, then it will also start to eat other celluloid parts like tuner buttons. I'd be leaning towards replacing the outer binding while the inner BWB purfling is still salvageable.
     
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  8. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    While CA will temporarily stabilize the binding it will continue to outgas into the wood - and shrinkage & deterioration will not stop You woould have to fully encapsulate the binding to stop the outgassing, which still might not stop overall deterioration.

    This is a very common problem with older Gretsch guitars - not a workmanship issue, but an inherent problem with their supplier of the celluloid binding. The particular celluloid used react with chemicals in the atmosphere.

    I have owned over a dozen and serviced countless Gretsch guitars from the 40's, 50's and 60's, and stabilization is only a temporary fix that lasts 1-4 years on average.

    The guitar needs to be re-bound. Sorry, but that's the only solution, I'm doing two right now - one is mine, one belongs to a friend. Not fun.
     
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  9. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Sorry, I missed this - outgassing from binding also destroys pickguards, truss rod covers, tremolo and switch tips (and all other plastic) plus will rust the strings, bridge, tailpiece and other metal.

    I refuse to do CA "stabilization" jobs because other parts may still be damaged. I only recommend re-binding. Once the process starts - even a few cracks - it will never stop.
     
    Telekarster likes this.
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