Checkerboard Binding

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Alexander Higgins
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Checkerboard Binding

Post by Alexander Higgins »

I'd like to take a crack at checkerboard binding. The only source I've found so far is on e-bay:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Checkerboard-bi ... 1e861a5447

The price is steep, and given the two-layer construction, I don't know if I could use a Stewmac binding bit, probably have to make a jig of some kind to cut the "steps" required. Has anyone on the forum done this?

John Catto
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by John Catto »

No kidding, looks great though doesn't it. I've used the "half-herringbone" types of marquetry strip for a similar but woody effect in the past.
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John Catto
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by John Catto »

Ah, knew I had something saved with a little bit better price. You can order it from Shellex

http://www.shellex.de/index.php?p=shop& ... 0x5x1.6-mm

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Mark Swanson »

That looks great John! I just used some trim very close to this on the two mandolins I just posted here - http://www.mimf.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2883
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John Catto
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by John Catto »

Beautiful mandolins Mark! Some great detail on those, love the rosettes.

John Catto
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by John Catto »

Thought I'd toss out a "heads up" here and not just sit on it. Just a couple days after this post I came across this http://www.ebay.com/itm/20STRIP-LUTHIER ... 1282816853 on the venerable ebay. Pretty hard to beat the price and looks like just the thing, it certainly wouldn't show up on any auction search though since the description almost tells you nothing. God knows how they manage to post TWENTY pieces for $10 from China but experience tells me they can and it'll probably arrive faster than a package from Canada. My suspicion is that they sell this in large quantities so that the product can be bound together as a solid. Anyway I figured I'd take a punt on it, if anything goes wrong it'll probably happen at UK Customs, bless their pointed little heads. I must say that I've never had a chinese seller make the mistake of not writing gift on the package (a MUST for any parcel sent to the UK that you don't want the recipient to hate you over :) ), they have selling internationally down. Otherwise I'll let you know how it looks when it arrives.
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Checker 1.5 x 2.5mm.jpg

Alexander Higgins
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Alexander Higgins »

Thanks for the lead John. That would be a lifetime supply for me, but you can't beat the price. At least through E-Bay you have some buyer protection if it never shows up. Buying from China is like the new wild west, been getting some kicks watching Youtube videos reviewing "Chibson" fake Les Pauls, "Chickenbackers", etc. The quality seems to run from absolute shite to pretty good, all run through a roulette wheel of possible outcomes. A lot of people get what they order with no worries, a lot get ripped off.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Mark Swanson »

If you end up with more than you could ever use, you could always post an ad here in the Classified section and re-sell it.
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John Catto
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by John Catto »

I've bought a few things from that general area, some pearl inlay stuff, binding material (ABS) Ebony wood knobs. Everything's always arrived fast and been really good. I think if you start buying pots and switches and so on (fake guitars ;))you will get pretty much what you paid for but for certain things it works. Yeah, it's a massive quantity but so cheap it doesn't matter and the hardest thing to find. I've got a couple of things in my "unfinished" pile that its perfect for so I figured its worth it as a punt. They actually have a lot of interesting things including tortoise celluloid binding for next to nothing. I should email them and see if they have any of the thick single layer stuff that starting to become unobtainium from the normal sources.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Mark Swanson »

I actually bought some tortise binding and some white binding from them a while back, It arrived quickly and was good stuff.
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John Catto
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by John Catto »

Well that was fast! Ordered on the 24th, arrived in one piece today, that's one week and 2 days from China. Looks really good, the auction photo is a tiny bit misleading since on the wide view it's actually a chevron/rope effect (this looks like an optical illusion on the original photo but it's there) but it's square on the top 1.5mm edge. Checks are about 1.5mm x 2.8mm. The white is a VERY pale bone colour, much lighter than any wood version I've seen and it's quite flexible so I suspect it's made up from fibre which is a good thing. Took a photo here comparing it to the more usually found (boxwood/ebony?) version like I used on the Model One replica above. Success I think!! (BTW it shipped straight bound together in a tube)
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checkercompsmall.jpg

Martin Beer
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Martin Beer »

I realise this is an older thread, but did you ever manage to get this binding installed in an instrument, John? I'd be interested to see how it looked. Is it bright white or more of a bone/ivory shade?

John Catto
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by John Catto »

I put it on a guitar which isn't quite finished right now. It's fibre so its a VERY pale ivory shade. Not bright white but really pale. Incredibly easy to work with since it's very flexible, nothing like using the hard wood variety (which I'd have to soak for 15 minutes in hot water, no more it falls apart, then get on the guitar as fast as possible). It's GREAT stuff.
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Martin Beer
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Martin Beer »

That does look good, thanks for posting the picture. I might have to order some for the bass I'm about to start building. The shade looks about right against the walnut - I'm also going to use walnut and don't want the binding to be in a really bright "new fridge" shade of white.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Mark Swanson »

Wow John, that looks great!
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John Catto
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by John Catto »

Cheers!!

Alexander Higgins
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Alexander Higgins »

Long Time, No post
I ended up biting the bullet on some outrageously overpriced checker binding stock from Winfield Vintage. I was able to borrow a set of Stewmac Binding cutter and bearings, and cut a double ledge for outer white binding and checker purfling:
Image

The binding fits perfectly flush on the gentler body radius, but the the checker purfling is pretty stiff and hard to bend around the tight radii at the horns. I used a heat gun to soften it, but not sure how far I can go with that before it distorts or damages it. I heated as much as I dared, and pre-bent both checker purfling and outer binding:
Image
Image
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Even heavily taped for the pre-bend, the checker purfling has a tendency to "creep" out over the inner ledge rabbett at the tight horn radii, which in turn pushes the white outer binding proud of the body face.

I could rout the purfling ledge another .010" deeper, which would give me a better fit at the horns, but then it may be over-deep at the rest of the body. The alternative is just to glue it up as-is and scrape the white binding a little to get it back to flush, don't know if that will result in noticeably thinner binding at the horns.

Having never bounda guitar before, I did a couple test scraps with Stewmac binding cement and acetone for comparison. The acetone is the miter version, and I though it was easier to use and leaves no residue on the body. I like how you can dissolve binding chips in it to make filler/glue as well.
Image

Question:
With a two-layer binding, should I try to glue both simultaneously, or checker purfling first, then outer layer? I'm not sure how i'd get the purfling to lay tight and flat without the outer binding to hold it onto the inner ledge. Advice greatly appreciated.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Barry Daniels »

I have done a lot of plastic binding over the years. Gluing one strip at a time is a bit easier and less intense. But you need more force than blue painter's tape can create to get the strips to seat properly around that small horn. Possibilities include: the brown binding tape from Stew-Mac; fiberglass reinforced packing tape (my preference, and it can easily be slit in thinner strips with a sharp knife), rubber bands, bungee cord, twine, clamps, etc. Also, you can apply several strips of tape on top of each other to apply more pressure. Stretchy materials tend to work better for clamping binding.

Don't be afraid to heat plastic binding up almost to the melting point in order to pre-bend it around tight radii.

Another possibility for gluing is to tape the binding in dry and then wick in thin superglue. That allows you to get the binding tight before glue is applied.

In regards to how deep to route your ledge. It should be deep enough that the binding doesn't protrude much after gluing or, like you said, you may have to scrape too much and end up with overly thin binding. But you don't want an excessively deep binding ledge because that makes it difficult to get the binding tight when clamping it. Plus you would have to scrape the entire side of the guitar down to level it to the binding, which is much more difficult than scraping the binding to the surface of the wood.
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Alexander Higgins
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Alexander Higgins »

Barry,
Thanks for the reply. It sounds like I'm better off leaving the inner binding ledge as-is and just taping the snot out of it. I've seen a similar technique of pre-taping the binding but then wicking in acetone vs. CA glue. I react badly to the fumes from CA, so I try to avoid it, but I suppose acetone is no less poisonous. I have some of the fiberglass reinforced packing tape, will the acetone just dissolve it? Taping purfling and binding in two steps sounds a lot less stressful!

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Bryan Bear
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Re: Checkerboard Binding

Post by Bryan Bear »

First let me say that I have not used plastic binding/purfling and I don't do electrics so this is just a thought and may be bad advice. . . Could you take the purfling down a bit in thickness in the horn area by scrapping and sanding to reduce teh ammount of binding overhang you have there. The idea being that the purfling and binding being very slightly thinner in that curved area might be less noticeable than just the binding being thinner (by twice as much). Obviously, finding a way to not have to thin either would be preferable but just food for thought.
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