How to Make an Acoustic Guitar Series – Part Eighteen – Gluing the Binding Strips

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This is How to Make an Acoustic Guitar, and in Part Eighteen I’ll show you how to install the binding strips. I’ll also show you lots of tips and tricks along the way that will make your binding project more successful. Enjoy.

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Gluing the Binding Strips

How-to-Make-an-Acoustic-Guitar-Series-Part-Eighteen-Gluing-the-Binding-StripsSo far the guitar body has been routed with the binding ledges, and the strips have been cut and bent. Now it’s time to glue the strips to the body. 

This is not a difficult process, but a lot will depend on how well you bent the strips in the previous post.

If your strips are not that good, consider bending them again or at least touching them up. It’s much better to do this right now than to suffer through a miserable gluing job later.

You can do quite a bit with a little touch up on the hot iron. As long as you smooth out your strips, and eliminate any lumps, you will be in good shape for gluing.

If you missed last week, here is How to Make an Acoustic Guitar Part Seventeen.

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One Step Binding and Purfling

There are a couple ways to accomplish the binding portion of guitar making. One of them, which is popular among those who are good at it and those who are impatient, is binding it all at once. 

This is not the method I recommend, but it’s definitely something you can do if you choose. It greatly reduces the time it takes to bind the guitar, but there is something that you do have to look out for.

In the all at once method, there is a lot more going on. In this method, you glue down all binding and purfling strips at the same time. This means if you have five strips, they all get glued at once.

The obvious down side to this method is you need to work with a lot at once. In the beginning, it’s actually much easier to work with a few strips at a time, and do the binding in a couple passes.

Since this is the way the guitar was made in the example, this is where I will focus the post.

See Also: Acoustic Guitar Binding Ideas

Two Step Binding and Purfling

How-to-Make-an-Acoustic-Guitar-Series-Part-Eighteen-Gluing-the-Binding-Strips-gluing-the-first-purfling-stripIn the mahogany guitar, there is a single binding strip and a single purfling strip. The purfling strip is on the top of the guitar, and the binding strip on the sides. 

The rabbet channels allow for the smaller purfling strip to be placed first, and then the binding strip placed second once the first has dried. To start the process, simply glue down the purfling strip into the smaller channel, and use masking tape to hold it in place.

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Add glue to the rabbet channel, and smear it to cover both the side and the bottom of the channel.

Apply the tape regularly, and make sure it is flat in the rabbet channel. Hold it tightly, and tape it tightly too. You don’t want to lose any of your strip, so eliminate any bubbles in the strip before adding tape.

After the strip is glued and taped, work on the strip on the other half of the guitar top. You can work all the way around the guitar like this, and then leave it to dry over night.

See Also: 50 Things I Wish I Knew When I started Making Guitars

Scraping Back the Excess Glue

How-to-Make-an-Acoustic-Guitar-Series-Part-Eighteen-Gluing-the-Binding-Strips-purfling-strips-glued-onAfter the glue dries, remove the tape. Check your job and make sure that the strips adhered well and are seated fully into the channels. If they are not, you can remove them with the same rabbeting bit set that you made the channels with.

If the job was good, proceed with a scraper or sanding block to remove any glue drips. Go around the guitar and make sure to remove all signs of glue from the remaining rabbet. There will be some glue on the purfling strip, and even some squeeze out in the bigger rabbet channel.

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Work carefully, and smooth out the rabbet. When you glue down the binding strip, you can’t have little chunks of glue in the way because it will keep the binding strip from sitting flat against the side of the guitar in the rabbet channel.

See Also: Acoustic Guitar Binding – Guitar Making Tips

Attaching the Binding Strips

How-to-Make-an-Acoustic-Guitar-Series-Part-Eighteen-Gluing-the-Binding-Strips-adding-the-binding-stripsHow-to-Make-an-Acoustic-Guitar-Series-Part-Eighteen-Gluing-the-Binding-Strips-adding-the-binding-stripsNow that the rabbet has been fully scraped or sanded, and it’s very smooth, you can switch your focus to attaching the binding strip. This is the same process as gluing down the purfling strip.

Simply apply a thin layer of glue into the rabbet, and spear it around so that the entire area is coated. Then, start on one end and glue down the strip. Work carefully from one end to the other, and use tape and clamps to help.

Work with patience as well. The binding strips are going to be a focus on the guitar. It’s worth the extra few minutes to get them seated really well, without any gaps. Once you finish, you can trim the ends and work on other binding strips that don’t overlap the ones you already placed.

If you want to do the entire guitar at once, just trim the ends at the center seam with a chisel, and then you can start gluing the next strip. Trim the ends of the new strip carefully and it will meet the first strip perfectly.

See Also: 10 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making an Acoustic Guitar

Clamps and Tape

How-to-Make-an-Acoustic-Guitar-Series-Part-Eighteen-Gluing-the-Binding-Strips-tape-clampsThe best way to hold down your binding strips is with clamps and masking tape. If you buy a nicer roll of masking tape, like the blue painters tape, you can actually get a lot of strength for holding down your strips.

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Some bigger trigger clamps are great too.

I like to use a clamp in the waist area of the guitar, and then tape down the strip coming away from that area with masking tape.

This way, you work the strip away from the center, and it’s easier than working it from the end.

Don’t be afraid to use a lot of clamps. Again, the binding needs to be flat against the sides and seated flat inside the rabbet to look nice. Use as many clamps and as much tape as you need to accomplish that goal.

Also, check periodically to ensure that the strip is going down well. It’s easier to fix a mistake when you catch it earlier, so keep your eyes open.

See  Also: 25 Best Guitar Making Tips For Beginners

Acoustic Guitar Binding Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t do several strips at once. It’s easier to work a few strips at a time.
  • Make sure the strips seat fully into the rabbet channels.
  • Bend your binding and purfling as close to perfect as you can, and it will be easier to glue.
  • If you make a big mistake, you can use the router to remove the binding strip and start over.
  • Use a good quality wood glue and make sure to coat the wood evenly for maximum grip.
  • Chisel the ends to cut them so they meet perfectly in a butt joint.
  • Use as much tape and as many clamps as you need to hold the strip down while drying.
  • Leave the guitar to dry overnight so that the binding strips are fully secured.

See Also: 1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners

Coming Up Next Week

Now that the binding is all in place, it’s time to trim them even to the guitar body. This is similar to trimming the plate overhang, and can be made a lot easier with a router.

Right now, the binding looks cool, but it doesn’t look like it should. The guitar still has an unfinished look, because the binding is hanging over and not flush to the guitar body.

In this next step, I’ll show you how to trim it flush, and make the final touches to it really looks like a fully formed guitar body. These next few looks are really exciting.

If you have any questions on How to Make an Acoustic Guitar Part Eighteen, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.

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