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Thread: Wood binding

  1. #1

    Default Wood binding

    Iím thinking about using wood binding on my next build. Itís an A model. My question is for any of you whoíve used wood binding, what are the steps to take to keep the stain from the top and back from bleeding into the binding? I know it has to be sealed but at what point do you do that given that it has to be glued and the sealer could effect how it bonds to the body. Any advice on the steps to take would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Wood binding

    I have used black walnut bindings on maple/cedar and maple/spruce. The dark color of the walnut has not seen significant bleed with care staining around the edges. I have not tried light color wood bindings because of the issues you mention.

    I have had more trouble getting them glued in place since they are not as flexible as plastic bindings. I ended up making a special fixture and glue it up in sections rather than all at once. it takes a lot of time and would be interested if anyone has a better procedure. I a using hot hide glue.

  3. #3
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    I've never used plastic binding for any of my mandolins; all 136 have been wood. It matters to me.

    If it is a light colored wood, like curly maple, before any staining the maple gets painted with shellac using a magnifying glass and a small brush- usually a couple of times. It is tedious, but that seals the wood so no stain comes in from the top. If you are overly aggressive with the stain, it can bleed in from the sides, so be gentle.

    Binding an A5 in curly maple is pretty simple. Binding an F5 in curly maple sucks!

    There is a nice article in American Lutherie from a few years back detailing a workshop I gave at the Tacoma convention on handrubbing sunburst finishes.
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    I have used black walnut bindings on maple/cedar and maple/spruce. The dark color of the walnut has not seen significant bleed with care staining around the edges. I have not tried light color wood bindings because of the issues you mention.

    I have had more trouble getting them glued in place since they are not as flexible as plastic bindings. I ended up making a special fixture and glue it up in sections rather than all at once. it takes a lot of time and would be interested if anyone has a better procedure. I a using hot hide glue.
    It helps to pre bend the binding over a hot pipe so it matches the sides.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  6. #5
    Likes quaint instruments poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    @J.Condino. Lovely bindings but I never understood the fascination with burst colouring. A natural piece of wood is much more beautiful(and then there is no problem with bleeding stain ;-) )
    Kentucky KM-805..........2 Hora M1086 Portuguese II(1 in car)
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    Richmond RMA-110-VS .Noname (German?) mandolin
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    Puglisi Pocket 1908........Puglisi 1912
    Mandolinetto Neapolitane 1910
    1 Mandriola...................Cannelo G. Mandriola...BŲhm Waldzither 1921
    Johs MÝller 1945............Fangel 1915................Luigi Embergher Studio 1933
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  7. #6
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    James, why am I not surprised that you own a Laarman violin makers plane?
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  9. #7

    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    It helps to pre bend the binding over a hot pipe so it matches the sides.
    Yes, thanks. I do that already. On one mandolin I still had to redo it a couple of times till I built the fixture and shortened the lengths I glue at a time. I was hoping someone had and easier approach.

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  11. #8
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    I have never used plastic bindings, all 299 of them have wooden bindings. Most of my instruments are natural colour, but I have the advantage of having access to many woods with wonderful natural colours. For Maple I have either made a blonde instrument or have used Ebony bindings if the Maple is stained. It is easy to remove stain from Ebony with a damp rag.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
    http://www.petercoombe.com

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  13. #9
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    James, why am I not surprised that you own a Laarman violin makers plane?
    Chris Laarman used to live about a mile down the road from me in Philomath, Oregon.

    At one point I owned the entire set. They are an amazing bridge between art and function...BUT...my Ibex retrofitted with a new Condino handle works just as well for about 1/10 the price!
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  15. #10
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by poul hansen View Post
    @J.Condino. Lovely bindings but I never understood the fascination with burst colouring. A natural piece of wood is much more beautiful(and then there is no problem with bleeding stain ;-) )
    Most builders would say that a blonde is much more work as it is naked and there is no margin of error for your mistakes. Sunbursts are beautiful in color and they take the edge off the fussiness. On my more fancy instruments, I'll take things a step farther and do a contrasting reverse burst on just the wooden binding!

    The first mandolin I built was blonde. I worked forever to get all of the details right and the fit & finish perfect. I proudly showed it to Ricky Skaggs backstage at Merlefest that year (I worked there for many years behind the scenes). He was very nice & said encouraging things, but he was very clear about the blonde finish. It was a deal breaker for him. He said it would not blend in with his suit, so he could not play it at church. That was the last blonde mandolin I ever made...

  16. #11
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    James, are your sunbursts rubbed?
    I made my first four mandolins with curly maple bindings all around. Bending the 2 mm thick curly maple around heated screwdriver for the inside of the tiny headstock scroll is major PITA I can tell you.
    I decided to seal the whole mandolin with shellac and use toned shellac for sunburst. This looks slightly different from rubbed sunburst on bare wood but it is easy to scrape away from wooden bndings. (but is also darned hard to repair any stray scratches or later damages).
    Few tips for those who want to seal the bindings and apply stain to bare wood:
    - use dryer stain rags, don't allow any quick saturation of surface near bindings.
    - use stain incompatible with the sealer (shellac sealer will be attacked by alcohol stains)
    - seal the binding channels before you install binding (with shellac or quick drying nitro/lacquer) this creates barrier that will prevent glue ghosts in wood near bindings but also will help prevent bleeding of stain into bindings through any pores under surface of wood.
    Adrian

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  18. #12

    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    James, are your sunbursts rubbed?
    I made my first four mandolins with curly maple bindings all around. Bending the 2 mm thick curly maple around heated screwdriver for the inside of the tiny headstock scroll is major PITA I can tell you.
    I decided to seal the whole mandolin with shellac and use toned shellac for sunburst. This looks slightly different from rubbed sunburst on bare wood but it is easy to scrape away from wooden bndings. (but is also darned hard to repair any stray scratches or later damages).
    Few tips for those who want to seal the bindings and apply stain to bare wood:
    - use dryer stain rags, don't allow any quick saturation of surface near bindings.
    - use stain incompatible with the sealer (shellac sealer will be attacked by alcohol stains)
    - seal the binding channels before you install binding (with shellac or quick drying nitro/lacquer) this creates barrier that will prevent glue ghosts in wood near bindings but also will help prevent bleeding of stain into bindings through any pores under surface of wood.
    If you seal the binding channel with shellac before installing the binding, couldnít that keep the binding glue from adhering properly? If not, then why not just seal the binding before installing?

  19. #13
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn4390 View Post
    If you seal the binding channel with shellac before installing the binding, couldnít that keep the binding glue from adhering properly? If not, then why not just seal the binding before installing?
    I forgot to mention I use gel CA to glue bindings and would probably use it in this case as well. For wood glue I'm not 100% sure about compatibility but it may stll work good enough even on lightly sealed wood.
    Adrian

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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Wood glues do not bond well to shellac, lacquer, or varnish.

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Wood glues do not bond well to shellac, lacquer, or varnish.
    But have you tried it?
    There are many myths out there that need to be sorted out.
    Wood glue may not bond ideally on smooth finished surfaces but lightly sealed surface that is cleaned with a pass of sandpaper still may offer enough fibers for wood glue to grab sufficiently. Just like Frank Ford glues removed plastic bindings or pickguards back with white glue.
    One myth is that hide glue or Titebond won't hold on PVA/Titebond coated or contaminated surfaces (like open joints). It will... and quite well. I tested it.
    Adrian

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  23. #16
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Fish glue adheres well to removed binding, or binding repairs. It cleans up easily too. I've got a D18 with removed and reinstalled back binding that's still holding strong 6 years later.

  24. #17
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Binding is not structural. We only need enough adhesion to hold it in place securely, and frankly, compared to more critical structural glue joints, it really doesn't take much.

    We regularly glue plastic bindings to wood using solvent adhesives that do not bond particularly well to wood and it works fine. Considering that wood bindings do not shrink lengthwise like plastic bindings, it might just be that we don't need as much adhesion for wood bindings as for plastic. It's hard to argue with success, and if someone has sealed the wood before gluing binding with success, that's good enough for me to believe it works.

    I've reglued loose plastic bindings to instruments using Titebond and it sticks easily as well as the glue that was used originally (and came loose). I think that is mostly because of the wood fibers that remain attached to the plastic binding.

    Another trick is to do a quick wipe of acetone on celluloid bindings before gluing with wood glue. Acetone dissolves the binding surface, and acetone will mix with water, so it allegedly helps the water based wood glue to adhere to the plastic bindings.

    Anyway, since I'm here, I use wood bindings for most of my guitars but only occasionally for mandolins; I have never used wood bindings for an "F", and almost surely never will.

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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    But have you tried it?
    There are many myths out there that need to be sorted out.
    Wood glue may not bond ideally on smooth finished surfaces but lightly sealed surface that is cleaned with a pass of sandpaper still may offer enough fibers for wood glue to grab sufficiently. Just like Frank Ford glues removed plastic bindings or pickguards back with white glue.
    One myth is that hide glue or Titebond won't hold on PVA/Titebond coated or contaminated surfaces (like open joints). It will... and quite well. I tested it.

    Yes, I've tried it, often enough that I avoid it when possible. Oxidized surfaces aren't too bad. Glue contaminated surfaces can go either way; and many of us, myself included, sometimes get away with it on low stress joints, sometimes not. But if you don't want warranty work, you learn to avoid wood glues on surfaces that have been sealed with finish. They have a way of coming back to you, sometimes sooner, sometimes later.

    I just peeled off 12 inches of wood binding on a hand-built guitar [not built by me] with only a fingernail a couple of weeks ago. It started with a loose spot less than 3/4" long. I don't know what the binding channel was sealed with, but it sure wasn't holding. The channel will have to be scraped and the binding scuffed to re-glue it. The owner is a cabinet maker, so he'll do the work himself.

    The longer I do this sort of work, the more fastidious I get about my glue work. That means reasonably clean surfaces and a thoughtful choice of glues. I don't want somebody cursing me, my work, or my memory because I got lazy.

    My shop philosophy is if you're going to do it, do it right.
    Last edited by rcc56; Oct-06-2022 at 5:32pm.

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  27. #19
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    For my instruments: wood body + hot hide glue + wood binding.

    For any potential repair work, if it was made by a living builder, then send it back to them to fix... 'nuff said!

  28. #20
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    I'm not a builder at all. I'm just an amateur stringed instrument player, one in the minority who prefers natural wood colored wood with light colored wood binding.

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  30. #21
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    For my instruments: wood body + hot hide glue + wood binding.

    For any potential repair work, if it was made by a living builder, then send it back to them to fix... 'nuff said!
    I agree with that philosophy, I use HHG exclusively as well for all wood joints except for laminating body blocks (epoxy), but since #5 I have used celluloid bindings only so it's thick CA there.
    Regarding failed instruments by other makers you'll in some cases never really know why it happened so what you think is sealer might as well be too thick layer of bad glue. There are many parameters that may make a joint fail.
    Just to be sure what is safe to do I tested adhesion of HHG and white glues over glue-contaminated surfaces on cutoffs. I painted (liberally) sticks with white glue, let it dry thoroughly and then glued and clamped them together (with HHG and white glue) without any cleaning or even smoothing. The joint broke pretty much the same way as normal joint with some splintering of wood only, partially on glue line. Basicly it worked and looked like a joint glued with too thick glue line (when not enough clamping pressure is applied). On HHG glued examples you could see (under magnyfying glass) that where the glue line failed it was mostly between the rather thick painted white glue layer and wood, not between the old and new glue so with relatively thin coat (like on cracked top joints that were well clamped originally nd had no visible glue line) the reesult would be likely even stronger.

    I think I will do some new tests with wood glues on shellac sealed and fully painted surfaces. I haven't glued such surfaces so far in repair situation so never had reason to test it.
    Adrian

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  32. #22
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post

    For any potential repair work, if it was made by a living builder, then send it back to them to fix... 'nuff said!
    Ummmm . . .

    Not always do-able.
    Some examples of former builders who you could not or should not to business with-- names left out to protect the not-so-innocent:

    1. A former mandolin, banjo, and dobro builder who has dropped off the face of the earth who has accepted repairs but has not returned some instruments to the owners [probably sold off to support his bad habits].

    2. A former guitar builder who had some emotional problems who has dropped off the face of the earth. Fortunately he only built a few instruments.

    3. A former well-known guitar builder who refuses to respond to any inquiries concerning his instruments.

    4. A still active well-known builder who will charge exhorbitant fees to fix manufacturing defects that should be covered under warranty.

    I could extend the list, but I'll stop here.

  33. #23
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    It’s been my experience that many builders, well known and not so well known, simply don’t want to do repairs on any instruments, even their own. Once they are out the door they really don’t want to see them again, or hear about any issues they might have. I’ve had to call other builders and ask them for info on instruments they have built (neck joints, glues and finishes used, etc.) because they needed repair and the builder would not do it. Sometimes the conversation goes well, sometimes not so well.

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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Sorry if I sent this thread sideways! Back to the original issue! I have never put wood binding on a mandolin, although I did bind my first few guitars with wood way back in the 70’s. Almost all my customers these days are bluegrass players, and they mostly have traditional bluegrass instruments with celluloid or Boltoron binding.
    I like the look of wood binding on guitars, but for some reason, not so much on mandolins. And to me, the extra work of sealing those surfaces to keep stains from migrating into top wood isn’t worth it. I might be tempted to use ebony binding with some bl/wh purfling on an A style. I think I’d walk through burning coals before I would put wood binding on an F model.

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  36. #25
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood binding

    Quote Originally Posted by Ward Elliott View Post
    ...I might be tempted to use ebony binding with some bl/wh purfling on an A style...
    That's what I've done any time I used wood binding on a mandolin/mandola, not necessarily with purfling.
    Here's an example:
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