bending binding

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Matt Atkinson
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bending binding

Post by Matt Atkinson »

Seems as if the bindings for the back should be set in the bender at an angle to account for the difference in height between the tail block and head block? Put the wind in it? Am I over thinking it?

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Barry Daniels
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Re: bending binding

Post by Barry Daniels »

Sounds good in theory. In practice it won't make any significant difference.

Where you might want to make an adjustment is at the waist. If you use a domed back, the binding basically has to crest a small hill when it goes into a sharp waist (not so much with a dreadnaught's slight waist). Also, happens in cutaways. To help this fit, I make a slight sideways bend in the binding at the waist on a hot pipe bender.
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Bryan Bear
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Re: bending binding

Post by Bryan Bear »

As Barry points out the general wind in the binding strip is not that big of a deal for the tapered back but there are other variables that can complicate things. In addition to the rise in the waist and or cutaway due to the dome you may also have difficulties if you have a side shape that tapers more in the upper bout than the lower bout starting near the waist.

your binding method will have to take this into account. I use tape and water-base glue and do wood bindings. I usually don't use the bending machine for this preferring to do it by hand. I like to mark the center of the waist on the guitar and binding then bend that on the pipe. I do a quick rough bend for the upper bout and lower bout without worrying too much about getting it perfect. Then I start taping the bindings in at the waist and forcing them to conform to the rabbet as I go toward the tail and heel. That gives me an idea of where I might run into problems; usually I can get everything seated well enough with tape. I like to get it nice and tight ten cut my mitres for the tail to get it all matched up. Then I un-tape the tail and start gluing and re-taping towards the waist. Once the waist (and a fair way beyond) is all glued and taped down I start trimming and fitting the bindings at the heel end.

I recognize that this means I am taping everything twice but it works for me. If I used CA, I wouldn't really have to do this.

I suppose that my method would also work with the bender but I haven't found that I need the bindings to be bent perfect enough to cause me to get the bender out.


I'm sure others will chime in with different approaches that will work too. You just need to decide what works for you.
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Freeman Keller
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Re: bending binding

Post by Freeman Keller »

I'm exactly the opposite of Bryan (which shows that there are many ways to bind this cat). I bend all my bindings at the same time I do my sides, tape them to a form and put them away until I need them. I tape them into the channels dry and put small drops of thin CA between the tape to tack them in place. I can take all the time I need to get them as perfect as possible before gluing. I keep a little piece of UHMW handy in case I need to apply extra pressure and then hit the CA with accelerator. Pull the tape, wick CA all around both seams and scrape back.

I don't do anything special to compensate for the taper, waist or anything else - the wood has enough give. On cutaways and other tight bends I'll make a special jig to hold the binding while I'm bending and I usually do the bending on a pipe.
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Bryan Bear
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Re: bending binding

Post by Bryan Bear »

Freeman, I should just bend my bindings when I bend my sides and the bender is out. Sadly, I usually haven’t yet made my bindings when I start bending sides. Maybe I should change my process.
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Freeman Keller
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Re: bending binding

Post by Freeman Keller »

I think the difference is just in the way we approach this. I spend a lot of time, probably way too much time, thinking this through before I ever start. I pretty much know what woods I want to use all the way thru the build, what affect I'm looking for with binding and rosette and head plate and all that. So the choice of woods has been made early, its easy to rip or buy the binding when I start.

The second thing that influences this is that I have almost no room in my "shop" for things like the fox bender or my go bar or other equipment - I keep everything stored in the attic until I need it, then it gets put away as soon as I'm done. So at some point when its time to bend the sides I get the machine out, set it up, bend everything I can, put it back away. I might get my pipe out if I need some small piece, but like everything else, its stored in the attic too.


ps - this kind of segues into Matt's question about whether to use a back stripe or not. I would have made that decision along with what binding I was going to use, what head plate and rosette and end graft and whether to bind the neck and head and at about the same time I made the decision of what shape and size guitar I was going to build. I'm very aware of the concept of a theme running thru all of my guitars. I'm free to change my mind but I rarely get half way thru a guitar and think "what kind of fretboard should I use here...?"

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Bryan Bear
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Re: bending binding

Post by Bryan Bear »

I hear you. I usually know at the outset what binding and purfling scheme I want to use. I usually make the log to cut my bindings from when I have downtime since I won't need them until after the rim is made the, rossette is done, the plates are braced and the box is closed and blocked. I could easily change that and make them at the beginning and bend while the machine is out. I just never thought to do it that way.
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Matt Atkinson
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Re: bending binding

Post by Matt Atkinson »

Thanks everyone. I am making backstrips now. I'm impressed, Freeman, that you have the design set ahead of time. I'll get there eventually I hope. I'm more like: Oh look I found this quartered wenge. I'll build another guitar with it! Oh look, bloodwood! Hmm, maybe bindings... Originally I was gonna go easy on myself and use plastic binding and purfling but then couldn't make up my mind. Was thinking sunburst top because the top I have has some bearclaw, but not enough to make it special. O crap if I'm using wood bindings I won't be able to scrape it clean after sunburst. Natural finish then! Back and forth. Like I said in the other post, writer's block or something.

Alan Carruth
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Re: bending binding

Post by Alan Carruth »

I use a uniform back dome (say, 15' radius, which is common), and taper the body depth as usual from the tail block down to the neck end (normally anywhere from 1.5 to 2 cm, or, say 5/8" to 3/4"+. When I get done profiling the sides the side height in the lower bout is more or less constant, and they taper down a lot starting at the waist. This is a function of the complex geometry of the shape of the guitar intersecting with a spherical dome. The 'rise' at the waist and the twist angle depend a lot on how much taper there is, and how sharp and incurved the waist is. As has been said, on the Dread it's not as much, while on a Jumbo or 12-fret 000 you can get a lot of twist and rise.

I pretty much do it like Bryan, but I use fish glue these days. This allows me to glue up the top and back bindings at the same time. I use low-tack masking tape for the initial fit, and filament tape when I'm gluing: you can pull the filament tape really tight without worrying about it breaking, and it usually pulls up nicely without pulling wood out of the top (except for WRC) if you're careful. Once the binding is on I wrap the whole thing with a 'rubber rope'; a long strip cut from a truck inner tube. Surgical tubing works well too. This puts on enough pressure to get everything really tight. Make the binding a bit taller and thicker than in needs to be to be sure the pressure is on it rather than the edge of the plates or the sides. I've never had one implode - yet.... I used to use Titebond for this, but could only do one surface (top or back) at a time, which meant I was wrapping with the rubber rope twice. I'd allow 30-45 minutes in between, so that the glue would still be a little soft when I did the second surface, and I could, if need be, push in that spot on the second go. This was a lot of effort, and particularly if I had two students putting on binding at the same time I'd end up doing a lot of wrapping in a couple of hours, since they never could get through the whole thing without their hands cramping up and I'd have to take over.

Matt Atkinson
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Re: bending binding

Post by Matt Atkinson »

Well that’s the last time I’ll use wood bindings for a while. What a ton of work. And I really need to learn how to sharpen my scraper! No matter how I try I just get dust instead of shavings.

Freeman Keller
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Re: bending binding

Post by Freeman Keller »

Thats too bad Matt, I think wood binding adds such an elegant touch and really makes the guitar look finished. The only times I use plastic any more is if the particular style of the instrument simply calls for it - an ES335 for example or an F5 mandolin. Or possibly if I just can't make the really tight bend in a cutaway horn, but I find that if I made the effort I can usually bend a piece of wood to fit any shape.

I have regular cabinet scrapers that I sharpen and use for scraping large pieces of wood, but for scraping bindings I almost always use a box cutter blade. If there is much material standing proud of the sides or top I'll remove that with a little (sharp) plane, then scrape the final bit with the box cutter. Wrap some tape around most of the blade to keep it from scratching wood where you aren't scraping. Sanding binding seems to leave a lot of dust in it, scraping really makes it shine.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: bending binding

Post by Barry Daniels »

For leveling binding you don't need a refined turned edge on the scraper. In fact, I use a fairly crude system to make a slightly ragged cutting edge. I place the scraper in the vice with just a bit of the working edge sticking up. Then I run a single cut file along the whole length of the scraper at a 90 degree angle. This is a quick way to get a fairly aggressive edge on the tool. I learned this technique from Ervin Somogyi.
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Dave Meyrick
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Re: bending binding

Post by Dave Meyrick »

Have to say I remembered to put my (wooden) binding in the bender with my sides on my latest build and got a much better fit than I usually do. I do the waist vertical bend on the pipe afterwards. This is on box with a pretty sharp cutaway curve.

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Matt Atkinson
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Re: bending binding

Post by Matt Atkinson »

Well never say never. I made try wood again :) I found that where it turned towards the neck at the upper bout it needed hard pulling at the top edge to get tight to the body. I had to put clamps in various spots to get it tight and it frustrated me a bit. It DID get in there though and does look pretty good. Unfortunately I broke a couple pieces and had to use replacements that didn't have my black white detail that I had planned for at the bottom of the binding so the top binding has the detail and the back binding does not. It's bumming me out a little. I haven't found the willingness to cut it off and do it again. And it was found bloodwood and there's none left, alas.

Carl Dickinson
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Re: bending binding

Post by Carl Dickinson »

Matt, regarding your original question, I've done that bending figured maple with a blanket. Taped 2 together to be bent straight and 2 that I set between the slats/paper at about a 2" offset from one end to the other. It did seem to go in the rabbet on the back easier than straight ones.

Steven Smith
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Re: bending binding

Post by Steven Smith »

Matt Atkinson wrote:Well never say never. I made try wood again :) I found that where it turned towards the neck at the upper bout it needed hard pulling at the top edge to get tight to the body. I had to put clamps in various spots to get it tight and it frustrated me a bit. It DID get in there though and does look pretty good. Unfortunately I broke a couple pieces and had to use replacements that didn't have my black white detail that I had planned for at the bottom of the binding so the top binding has the detail and the back binding does not. It's bumming me out a little. I haven't found the willingness to cut it off and do it again. And it was found bloodwood and there's none left, alas.
I had similar problems when I started using wood binding (about 15 yrs ago now). What I learned over time is to fit the binding better to the guitar when I bend it, that makes all the difference. I still bend it on a pipe (I have two fox benders that I don't use - ha).

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