Filler, Primer, and Binding Questions

Beebe

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Do any of ya'll lay down coats of clear before grain filling when finishing a body with binding... to prevent sanding the binding when leveling?

I'm also wondering if it's a good idea to be able to see the binding through the color for ease of scraping? I'm afraid that after I spray white primer and silver color that it may be obscured.


Here's the long version of my question with some background:

I'm finishing my first bound body (Pine, Inca Silver, and Parchment double binding) and finding myself concerned about sanding the binding thinner on the sides while leveling the surface using the process I normally use for unbound bodies.

(I'm spraying a 1.5# cut home-brew spirit varnish made with a blend of natural alcohol soluable resins (Shellac, Sandarac, Copal, Mastic, Benzoin) and mixing in pigment powders.)

I like to get the surface super flat before shooting color so I spend a good bit of time on prep work to get the surface almost finished before starting... If that makes sense. Usually following sealer and filler with several clear and primer coats before color.

My thinking is that it would make a lot of sense to grain fill and level before binding. Since I ordered the body from Guitar Mill, this is not an option for me right now.

I'm thinking the next best route would be to start with spraying clear and build up enough coats to protect the binding while sanding. Then do grain filler and level.

Thoughts?
 

Freeman Keller

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A few comments, they may be fairly random.

I've never built a pine guitar and there are about 47 different varieties of pine, but I believe that most of the "white" pines have fairly coarse open grain. My pore (grain) filler of choice is a finishing resin (Zpoxy) and when mixed full consistency it will fill pretty coarse wood.

Second, most of my guitars are bound, either in wood or plastic. I almost always have the body pretty well sanded before I bind it - I'm probably at 220 or 320. I set my bindings so the sides are flush with the side of the guitar, the top stands a few thousands proud. I scrape (not sand) the binding back level with the wood. In fact I try to do the minimum sanding with binding, scraping leaves a much smoother surface and keeps the binding clean - sanding will drive wood dust into it.

With the guitar in the white and binding on I sand to 320 and scrape. I'll apply any stain if I'm going to, then seal and lightly scuff sand. I mask the tall side of the binding with pinstriping tape and leave the short top unmasked. I make very sure that the masking tape is not on any wood on the sides.

IMG_3359.JPG


Shoot the color, sand to 320 every three coats. When I'm happy with the color pull the mask and scrape with a box cutter blade. You can use the tip on the side binding to get right down to the seam and by angling the blade its pretty easy to scrape the top back to its seam. You can see here that a little color snuck under the mask, no big deal

IMG_3372.JPG


If you look at that guitar, the f-holes are also bound and will be scraped back. They are masked on the inside so finish wouldn't get in but I made no attempt at actually masking the binding.

Now there will be a little ledge from the color coats, I might just lightly break that by running around the binding with 320 or 400, followed by a little more scraping.

Now bury it in clear. I'll typically shoot 6 to 12 coats, sand every three to 320, until I get the film thickness I think I want. The lacquer will slowly hide the ridge left by scraping the color, light sanding helps. One flow coat, let is sit for a couple of weeks, wet sand and buff.

IMG_3393.JPG


I didn't really answer your questions, just sort of showed what I do. Obviously I'm shooting lacquer, that is all I know. Hope that helps.

ps - the guitar in that picture is maple and did not get pore filler. The neck is mahogany and is porous, so it did. That is the reason there is a little bit of blue tape on the heel in the first picture. In retrospect I should have made a maple neck for it to get a little better match with the body.
 
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eallen

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I prefer to have the body &, all grain fill done when required, and sanded to 320 before routing for binding. You don't want to be slowly removing binding thickness when sanding or have a sanding mishap & have to replace some.

As Freeman indicated there are a lot of varieties of pine. The Pine I am used to is a softer closed pore wood that doesn't need grain fill but will definitely soak up the sealer.
 

Beebe

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Not sure what kind of pine it is. It definitely has textured grain. It's from Guitar Mill. I get vintage tele bodies made there with a custom 1.625" thickness. This one has a universal route and weighs 2.84 lbs. It's a promotional guitar I'm making for a local musician that plays Esquires with a Schecter F520T Mark Knopfler "Walk of Life" clone pickup in a drop C tuning and six barrels on the bridge. If the neck dives I can install some weights in the universal route.
 

Beebe

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Thanks for the details @Freeman Keller!

So I was actually half way through grain filling when I started this thread. I may have thinned out the binding somewhat while sanding the sides. And I may have rounded the binding edges slightly on the top. It's not too bad and I'm hopeful I can square it up while scraping.

I'm going to ask my second question again and post some pics.

How do you know how far to scrape if you can't see the binding?

Here is what it's looking like with two coats of primer (my clear formula with Titanium White pigment and Mica extender pigment added).

(It's a little dusty looking because I haven't been able to find an all natural dispersant, so it's something I just need to work around with a bit more sanding).

I'm pretty sure that once I spray the silver I will not be able to see the binding.

Any advice on what to do?

Some of my ideas:

I have a wheel marking gauge I could use to score lines around the sides at the binding edges.

I could scrape the primer off.

I could measure the binding and make sure to not scrape deeper than that.

For the top I could measure the thinnest part of the binding and not scrape deeper than that.

Any advice would be appreciated.

PXL_20220817_165652068.PORTRAIT.jpg


PXL_20220817_170410579.PORTRAIT.jpg


I ordered this scraper holder from Italy a year or two ago and haven't had a chance to use it yet. I think StewMac just started carrying them. I have a cheep body from Guitar Fetish that I will be practicing on before I do this one. I wish I would have started with that one and maybe learned the caution to take around the binding earlier!


PXL_20220817_165952491.jpg
 

Freeman Keller

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I have never put myself in that predicament. First almost all of my guitars get a clear or transparent finish - the red one in my picture is as dark as I've ever done and its easy to see the seam thru the color. Second, as I said, I mask the tall edge.

The story I've read somewhere is that at Gibson, at least in the old days, bindings were all scraped by hand using something like the tool you show - they were able to set the depth and scrape to the seam.
 

Beebe

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I have never put myself in that predicament. First almost all of my guitars get a clear or transparent finish - the red one in my picture is as dark as I've ever done and its easy to see the seam thru the color. Second, as I said, I mask the tall edge.

The story I've read somewhere is that at Gibson, at least in the old days, bindings were all scraped by hand using something like the tool you show - they were able to set the depth and scrape to the seam.
I watched a video recently showing Gibson still doing that. Well in the video they were using just the piece of metal that each worker shapes into a a scraper suited to them. I think my fancy holder is going to come in handy.

Stew Mac has a video detailing how to sharpen it into a blade and do the scraping. I'll be following these instructions to start.

And maybe I'll post the videos... after I get some food in my belly.
 

Buckocaster51

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Some people use microscope slides.

It is good to have the body work done before routing for binding.

After you are happy with the binding mask the sides and put the put the color on.

Clean up the binding and then do your clear
 

Beebe

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Some people use microscope slides.

It is good to have the body work done before routing for binding.

After you are happy with the binding mask the sides and put the put the color on.

Clean up the binding and then do your clear

They use the slides as scrapers?

I have some that I picked up to see how different oils oxidize when wiped on them, but never got around to using em.
 

Freeman Keller

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FWIW I just use a cabinet scraper for bringing the binding flush to the top and a box cutter blade for cleaning the finish off the binding itself.
 

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Beebe

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Well I've gone ahead and messed the binding up on this one. Planning to route it out and replace it with slight thicker 0.09" stuff from StewMac. I'll post the results ... If not too embarrassing.
 

Silverface

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FWIW I scape the binding after I apply sanding sealer and paste wood filler - usually 2-3 progressively thiner passes of paste wood filler. I always use Mohawk paste wood filler with binding no matter what type of wood, as it fills any small gaps between the wood - especially the end grain - and the binding. The paste wood filler is always tinted with universal colorants, although stains and dyes will work.
 

Beebe

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Anyone know where the binding typically meets itself on the back of a double bound tele?
 

Freeman Keller

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You can buy some plastic binding that is long enough to go all the way around a guitar, but most of the time there are two pieces that meet at the center of the butt end.
 

Beebe

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You can buy some plastic binding that is long enough to go all the way around a guitar, but most of the time there are two pieces that meet at the center of the butt end.

Thanks! I have pieces long enough to go all the way around. The one on the back will have to meet itself somewhere.

The binding I'm preparing to remove meets itself on the side of the heel facing the cutaway. I wasn't sure if this is a standard. Meeting at the butt end makes more sense to me.

I have also heard that it works well to angle the ends that will meet with a blade and hone it in with a file to form a scarf joint type thing. The binding on the guitar now has a small gap and was cut at right angles to the body ... So it was easy to spot.
 

Freeman Keller

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On acoustic guitars it is very common to have a vertical graft at the butt joint and may builders do some sort of fancy mitering of the binding and purfling. On electric guitars a simple butt joint is fine, you can dissolve a little binding in acetone to make a paste that can hide it.
 

Beebe

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2 updates.

1. I'm pretty sure the Benidetto binding scraper blade that came with the holder I ordered from Italy (and pictured above) is different than the StewMac blade.

I followed the StewMac video for sharpening the blade and it wasn't easy. Progress was super slow with my swiss file and 400 grit water stone. It damaged the water stone, and put some wear on the file. I'm pretty sure it's some sort of Japanese saber steel, and more like StewMac's ultimate scraper and should be sharpened on a grinder to a hollow-ground edge.

So, in my effort to throw as much money at this as possible, I ordered the ultimate scraper and corresponding mini grinder.

I plan on using the ultimate scraper to level the binding with the body before painting.



2. Well... I couldn't get the StewMac binding router jig set up in a way to work with a T style.

I had to modify the cradle base by drilling new mounting holes for the holder arms. And then realized the cut away can't reach the router blade.

So looks like I'll be returning the jig and getting a router table base. I have a nice piece of plywood that I got for the jig. I plan to put a 2" hole in it with a Forstner bit and mount it on the router table base. I ordered a 1/4 " bit extender, so we'll see.


Here's that nice sheet of 3/4" cabinet grade plywood with a couple coats of my homebrew alcohol varnish and some carnauba wax emulsion rubbed on.

PXL_20220826_161804334.PORTRAIT.jpg


I love this Carnauba wax emulsion by the way. It contains only

Water
Carnauba wax
Emulsifier based on natural fatty acid
And a food preservative

I've been diluting it with water, as the bottle says you must do. And doing a wipe-on-wipe-off thing.

I also made some polishing compound with it. Which was my main reason for getting it. I just mixed in some aluminium oxide fine polishing powder and it's working wonderfully on metal. I might mix in a little linseed oil soap when I use it to polish an instrument... My instincts tell me this will extend the time by which it must be wiped off before hardening.

 

Freeman Keller

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Sounds like things are not going as smoothly as you would like. A few random comments

- I had never seen that ultimate scraper thing until I followed your link. Looks pretty, well, ultimate. I have some nice cheap card scrapers that I bought somewhere (maybe Grizzly) and one very nice quality cabinet scraper that was gifted to me by a cabinet maker. I clamp them in a vice, flatten the edge, then roll the burr as is shown in a bazillion videos. I put more aggressive burrs on some for carving wood and less aggressive for final smoothing just before finish. Mine aren't ultimate but they work pretty darn well.

- I do have the StewMac floating binding router jig and the cradle, but I wouldn't use them for a tele. A tele can be routed either on a router table or with the router sitting on top of the body - either works, each has advantages. If you ever decide to build a guitar with something other than a flat top you'll want the floating gizmo - there just isn't another good way. I've modified the cradle for smaller bodied guitars and yes, some cutaways are pretty tight.

- A router table is handy for some other things so its good to build (or buy). Just doing truss rod channels paid for mine.

- I don't allow any wax (or silicon or oils) near my guitars. They simply ruin any chance of spraying any of the finishes that I use. I know there are wax finishes, I've never used them. For polishing I use wax and silicon free commercial products.
 




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