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Thread: Next Adventure In Binding

  1. #1

    Default Next Adventure In Binding

    After completing three flat tops, I've jumped into my first carved top project. The top plate looks like it's worthy of continuing on to the rest of the build. My question is about how to add a binding to the oval sound hole. I'm finding the plastic Stewmac binding to be a real pain to shape into a nice fit. I tried heating it, to no avail. So what's the next level up in binding materials that I should consider? Celluloid? Bent wood? I'm not ready for purfling, rossettes, and all that just yet, but I would like to add a tasteful lining inside the sound hole.

    Thanks,
    Parker

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next Adventure In Binding

    Soundhole binding doesn't need to be very thick, so using thinner binding material helps. .040" is a good choice and it is traditional.

    Easiest way I've found:
    Start with a wide piece of binding; like 3/8" to 1/2". Cut a length a little too long to make the circle or oval that you need, roll it up and insert it into the sound hole. Mark where the overlap is and cut the binding near the mark making sure that it is still a little too long. Gradually trim the ends so that they butt together cleanly and stop when the binding must be forced into position with the butt joint tight. The extra width makes it so that it doesn't have to be positioned precisely and the extra length makes it self-clamping when it goes into the hole. Apply glue and insert the overlength/overwidth binding, leave it to cure.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Next Adventure In Binding

    That sounds great. I hadn't thought about a wider piece. Since there is so much contouring around the hole, it would be much easier to align. So it's reasonable to stick with plastic binding?

  4. #4
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next Adventure In Binding

    Quote Originally Posted by Parker135 View Post
    That sounds great. I hadn't thought about a wider piece. Since there is so much contouring around the hole, it would be much easier to align. So it's reasonable to stick with plastic binding?
    Reasonable. When I use plastic binding it is celluloid. I suppose other plastics will work the same, although the glue needed might be different.

  5. #5
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next Adventure In Binding

    Some of the modern plastic binding, like Boltaron, just don't like heat bending in the same way as celluloid. ABS is not bad, but others plastics can be difficult.

    Cheers

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  7. #6
    Mandolin & Mandola maker
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    Default Re: Next Adventure In Binding

    I bind my oval holes with Black Walnut because it is the easiest wood to bend. I have used Maple, but Walnut is easier. The technique is exactly the same as described by John. The Walnut is thinned down to 0.9mm or less on the drum sander.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
    http://www.petercoombe.com

  8. #7
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next Adventure In Binding

    Another little trick that I find works well with soundhole binding is to use a vertical scarf joint, i.e. cut both ends at a slight angle so that the joint tightens as you close it, forcing the binding into place. You can make for a really snug fit that way. It makes it easier to use thicker binding if that's your preference.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Next Adventure In Binding

    Peter, I'm happy to hear that you use walnut. That's what I've been considering as I've had no luck finding a wide 1mm plastic binding. I considered celluloid but don't want to pay the hazmat fee for a small amount.

    Andrew, I've been trying the scarf joint which I'm sure would help if I had thinner binding material to work with.

    Graham, great to hear from you. Working on your Celt model.

    Thank you all!
    Parker

  10. #9
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next Adventure In Binding

    I have been using .020" x .250" black and white plastic strips from StewMac and second Andrew's scarf join idea. They offer a .040"/1mm thick black strip as well, but the .020" bends easily enough around the inside of a soundhole and you could always use two layers. They don't say what kind of plastic it is, but softens with acetone based solvent glues.

    Cheers

  11. #10

    Default Re: Next Adventure In Binding

    I considered trying the .020" plastic binding. When you say it softens with acetone, are you referring to gluing it with acetone, or do you apply acetone to the entire strip to make it more pliable before gluing it in place? That would be really helpful.

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