How to Make Wood Binding

The first step you should make in making your wood binding is to read the article of Wood Binding Wood Selection, if you haven’t already done so.

Tools and Materials:

Band Saw
Table Saw
Drum Sander
4″ C Clamps or Bessey Clamps
2-Part Epoxy Glue
2-1/2″ x 3/4″ x 32″ Hardwood Clamping Cauls
3/16″ x 2-1/2″ x 32″ Binding Stock
Various Wood Veneers

Cutting The Wood To Size:

I’m going to assume here that you will want to make 12 or more binding strips. That would be enough for 3 complete guitars. If not, just cut down on the sizes and quantities that I discuss in this article.

If you are going to cut your binding with a thin-kerf Band Saw, you will need to calculate your binding thickness (3/32″) or 2.4 mm for each strip, or your variation of that. Also, if you are using a thin band saw blade you will loose another 1/16″ or 1.2 mm. You will also want to figure a bit of waste for sanding the strips down to correct thickness, and getting all the cutting marks out of the wood after running them through the Band Saw.

This means you will need about 3/16″ or 5 mm for each strip. At 12 strips your wood width will need to be about 2 1/4″ to 2 1/2″ or about 60 to 65 mm.

You should also have your binding height established by now as well. I will assume a steel string guitar with 3/16″ high binding. So the initial binding strip wood needs to be 2 1/2″ x 3/16″ x 32″ long ±.

Cutting the Purfling To Rough Width:

If you are using a dark binding you will most likely want a light veneer, like maple. If you have trouble locating veneer here is a source for Maple Veneer. The veneer will need to be at least 2 1/2″ wide x 36″ long, by 1/28″ or 1/40″ in thickness. You can also pick this up at a well stocked lumber company or home improvement retail or wholeseller.

If you plan on laminating more veneer together in your sandwich, you should cut the veneer to size and prepare them as well.

Here Solid Wood and Veneer Strips Are Glued Up To Produce A Binding Sandwich

Here Solid Wood and Veneer Strips Are Glued Up To Produce A Binding Sandwich

Glue Binding Sandwich Together:

Now that all the pieces are sized for your completed binding, you should apply a thin layer of glue to all surfaces to be glued. If you are using any exotic or resinous wood in the mix here , I would recommend you use a slow set 2-part epoxy glue and an Acetone prewash to get all the resin from the wood that you possibly can.

You should prepare 2 hardwood cauls that are sized to fit over the entire surface of the binding sandwich and at least 3/4″ thick. Start to glue up the sandwich using 4″ C clamps. Apply light pressure until the pieces have stopped sliding around, then really crank in a lot of pressure to assure even distribution over the entire veneer surfaces.

Set aside and let the sandwich dry very thoroughly.

Sizing the Strips:

Now you should cut the strips to width after trimming any overhanging material and squaring up at least one edge for cutting.

Set the Band Saw to cut about about 1/32″ wider than you will need the strips. Run them through with the fence set up and cut slowly to minimize saw marks.

This Photo Shows Cut Binding Thickness Sanded On A Drum Sander

This Photo Shows Cut Binding Thickness Sanded On A Drum Sander

Sand the Binding:

The easiest way to sand the binding is to run them through a Drum Sander. I set the roller speed quite slow and run about 4 to 6 strips at one time through the sander. Be careful not to take too much off at one time as you can ge

t uneven results. It is better to run them through the Drum a few more times and have perfect results, as this is a final product you are producing. I usually use about 180 grit sandpaper on the sander because the bindings will be finish sanded later.

If your strips are to be used at a later date, stack them together and put some masking tape around the bundle and store them flat on a shelf.

GLS Tip: In order to make the job of ripping the binding to width easier you can use a very thin kerf table saw blade too. The blade is much more stable and if your saw is set up properly, you will be able to nearly eliminate waste due to saw marks.

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