Acoustic Guitar Binding – Guitar Making Tips

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Acoustic guitar binding is where you get to show off a little woodworking skill and add some beauty to the edges of the guitar. Even a beginner can dress up the body with some attractive binding. These few tips will help you along the way.

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Guitar Making Tip No. 11 – Acoustic Guitar Binding

acoustic guitar binding guitar making tipsThe first part of binding the acoustic guitar is to decide on a design, and route the ledges. If you are very new or this is your first build, you can save yourself some hassle by just doing a single strip of contrasting wood.

If you are making a light colored body, then use Rosewood or Mahogany for the binding wood. If you are making a darker body, then Maple is a great way to go.

The more complex that you make the binding design, the more difficult it will be to install everything. It’s much better to execute a simple design well.

After you are finished designing the look, route the ledges on the side of the guitar. A good tip is to use a smaller diameter router plate, or make a small doughnut that goes around the center of the plate.

This way, you can get in close on the back plate near the shoulders. This area slopes down, so a full plate router can have a hard time hitting the target depth.

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Here is another guitar making tips post about attaching the plates.

Test Fit Your Binding Strips Before Gluing

acoustic guitar binding guitar making tipsAnother great tip is to test fit your binding strips before gluing them. This should be a no brainer, but a little test is a huge help.

Lay out the strips and see how they fit into the ledges. If the fit is good, then you can move along to gluing and taping.

However, if the fit is not very good, then you need to make some adjustments on your router and improve them. It’s much easier and faster to make changes on the router.

The better the acoustic guitar binding strips fit into the ledges, the much easier the sanding and leveling processes will be.

Also, if you need to hammer your binding strips in place, then you have not bent them to shape well enough. The binding strips should put up very little of a fight as you press them against the shape of the acoustic guitar. Touch them up on the hot pipe before continuing.

If you like guitar making, check out Acoustic Guitar Making for Beginners, which highlights the best parts of my massive 508 page acoustic guitar making book.

Your New Favorite Guitar Binding Clamps

acoustic guitar binding guitar making tipsBy far the easiest way to attach the binding and purfling strips is to use tape. Painters tape is a perfect choice, because it is easy to remove and strong.

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Start with one edge of your bent binding strips, and make sure it’s square to the end point. Apply glue to the ledges and then start pressing the binding strips in place. Apply pieces of tape as you work along the strip, and make sure that you are pressing the binding fully into the ledge.

These are two directions to worry about with binding and purfling. First, make sure that you are pressing it against the side of the guitar fully. Then, take care that it’s pressed all the way down to the bottom of the ledge.

Missing the ledges or not seating the binding all the way in place will show up after the tape has been removed from the guitar. It won’t look good. When in doubt, remove a piece of tape and check. It’s better to catch it now then deal with it later.

My 25 Best Acoustic Guitar Making Tips, is full of great tips and tricks just like this.

Removing the Tape and Seeing the Results

acoustic guitar binding guitar making tipsRemove your tape and check the guitar to see how the binding strips adhered. If you did well, you should nee no gaps. If you have a couple thin gaps, you can fill them before you finish the guitar.

If your gaps are big enough to walk through, you will have to make-do or try again.

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Once you are satisfied with the glue up, it’s time to trim the binding flush to the body. Start with the excess sticking out over the top and back plates. Use a cabinet scraper or a hand plane carefully, and flush out the excess.

When you get close to the plate, switch to sandpaper or stick with the scraper until you get down to flush.

Once the tops are done, you can use a router and a flush trimming bit. This works well on the sides, and does the bulk of the waste removal. After that, use sandpaper or a scraper.

If you have any questions on Acoustic Guitar Binding – Guitar Making Tips, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, my guitar making book is a huge help for beginners, and it’s called Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs. Take a look. Happy building.

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brian forbes westfarthing woodworks llc owner

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