Wood Binding Installation

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Wood Binding Glued and Taped in Place

Before any gluing is to take place, make sure you have everything in order. For your convenience, I have given th is check list to make sure you don’t forget anything, because if you do, things can get pretty hectic while gluing.

Binding Install Checklist:
  • Wood Binding is pre-bent and dry fit. See the article Fitting Wood Binding for additional information on this step.
  • Guitar is clamped to Guitar Assembly Workboard and is positioned 90 degrees to the workbench for adequate access to all parts of the binding.
  • Prepare glue. Use the proper glue. Either Titebond III or Epoxy, depending on the wood species.

Prepare a LOT of masking tape strips – about 100 – 150 or more. You will completely cover every exposed portion of binding, sometimes 2 times over by the time your are done.

GLS Tip #1: If you want a lot of extra clamping pressure consider using filament tape. you can’t break that stuff and if you have an especially tough or stubborn area that needs that extra pressure, have some strips of Filament Tape at your disposal.

Spread the Glue:
Spreading Glue "As-You-Go" For Wood Binding

Spreading Glue “As-You-Go” For Wood Binding

Now is time to spread the glue on the purfling strips and binding. You do not have to be too concerned with getting the glue on exposed portions of wood as it should all be sanded off by the time your do your finish sanding anyway. Still exercise do some control when gluing the strips though. If you get glue in the grain of deeply porous wood, like Rosewood, you have a very hard time getting it out.

I usually put the glue into a small, shallow container and dip into it with my fingers. Then spread the glue on all sides of the purfling and the 2 gluing surfaces of the binding.

GLS Tip #2: You will find that if you adequately clean the resin from exotic wood bindings, you can glue this wood with Titebond III, since this is not a structural joint and additionally you do not need to apply excessive pressure to seat the purfling/binding. This will save you a really big gooey mess in using Epoxy glue.

Setting the Strips – The Back Plate:

We will do this a bit differently than we did with the dry fitting. Since the most critical joint that we have is where the binding joints the bottom graft, we start at that location. You will find it easier though to loosely secure the strips at the waist, using the registration marks and later adjusting the positioning a bit.

Set the purfling into place, dead center on the back seam. Do the same with the binding, being sure to get that nasty purfling 45 dead-on. When it is exactly lined-up, hold it with one hand a tape it with the other. Remember when you tape, stick the middle of the tape on the edge of the binding and run the one end down the side of the guitar. Grab the other side and pull it over the strip and onto the top with as much pressure as the binding will withstand.

Now add a few more pieces of tape to secure this end. Work around the guitar from the end graft to the lower bout and hold the strips tightly in the channel. Place tape strips at about 2″ centers all around the guitar.

When you reach the upper bout, gently set the other end of the wood strips into place at the heel and continue to tape.

Take a Minute To Look At Your Work:
Wood Binding Finding The Gaps

Wood Binding Finding The Gaps

Now take a look at your workmanship. Look for gaps in the purfling, both on the back plate and on the sides. If you see gaps, add more tape strips. Now secure the binding with solid tape around the entire perimeter. It is always wise to double coat the tape at the troubling areas like the waist, just to make sure.

Repeat this process with the other half of the guitar. Let the binding/purfling dry overnight. Remove the strips. If you see some gaps, don’t panic. We will tell you how to easily fix these.

If, on the other hand your strips are severely crooked and there are big gaps, you may be faced with routing the binding and purfling off and starting from scratch. This has happened to me and I’m sure everyone experiences this from time to time.

The Top Binding:

The top binding is handled exactly the same way, utilizing the same steps. The only difference is that there may be more purfling strips involved and you may want to consider gluing them as a separate operation – I caution you about this though as you can get inconsistent results. There is nothing like having that big fat binding strip there for you to pull tight against the purfling.

Also the top is easier to do because of the fit beneath the fretboard.

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