Acoustic Guitar #9: Purflings and Bindings

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Blog entry by YorkshireStewart posted 10-11-2012 07:44 PM 2728 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Bit of this; bit of that. Part 9 of Acoustic Guitar series Part 10: Mostly fretboard »

I did say that things would slow down!

This stage, for me, has been the most difficult so far. The books I’m following recommended gluing the purfling to the binding before bending them together on the bending iron. I found that to be disastrous, I (or the wood) suffered splitting, delamination of the black, white, black purfling and twisting. Oh what a mess! So I went back to what I’d thought would be the easiest before I read the books! Bend ‘em separately!

First picture shows the steps being cut with the router. I taped some very fine ‘wedges’ on the router base to account for the rounding of the guitar’s top and bottom. The angle varies around the perimeter so I took an average (sort of).

And then I realised too late that there was some ‘slogger’ in the router base set-up, so the depth of the channel varied more that it should. I could rout out the back bindings and re-do it all, but it’s at the back & Mrs YS suggests I move on and use it as a lesson for my next one!

I cut an old push-bike inner tube round and round to produce some very handy rubber strip that worked admirably to ‘clamp’ whilst gluing.

Couldn’t wait to attack it all with the card scraper…

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

13 comments so far

View SPalm's profile


5265 posts in 3388 days

#1 posted 10-11-2012 07:54 PM

It’s nice having a Mrs around sometimes to tell us to chill out.
Other times, not so much.
Good call this time although.

The purfling part has always baffled me. “How the heck do they do that?” It seems like bending before laminating makes a bunch of sense. Looks good from here.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Don W's profile

Don W

18049 posts in 2073 days

#2 posted 10-11-2012 08:16 PM

anyone that even tries to build a guitar impresses me. I look at it as something beyond woodworking.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Karson's profile


35037 posts in 3906 days

#3 posted 10-11-2012 08:18 PM

Stewart: I’ve used the old inner tube trick before. I’ve used car tubes and truck tubes that I got from a tire repair shop. Where they replaced some blown out tubes. (why they kept the old ones, baffle me).

Nice job with the bicycle tubes.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

9526 posts in 3558 days

#4 posted 10-11-2012 08:38 PM


You sure used up a lot of bicycle tubes… what happened to the bicycles?! LOL

FANTASTIC work! Just awesome!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 3407 days

#5 posted 10-11-2012 09:42 PM

I can still smell the rubber on my hands even after a shower and several hand-scrubs!

Joe – When I last pedalled into town I suffered a rear wheel blow-out; invested in new tyres and tubes, and [Karson] kept the old tubes ‘just in case’.

Steve yes, I’ll retain that flaw and, in the Muslim tradition (I think) tell folks that it’s deliberate as only The Almighty can attain perfection.

Don – Did you get out on the motor cycle this year? Our Honda ST1100 has hardly turned a wheel.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18049 posts in 2073 days

#6 posted 10-11-2012 09:51 PM

I’ll bet I didn’t put 300 miles on it. Its a shame, between work, travel and other things, there just wasn’t time left.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 3407 days

#7 posted 10-11-2012 10:02 PM

It’s no easier in so-called retirement Don. There was a time we found opportunities for extended trips into mainland Europe. This year, I rode it for its annual service & very little else. Must try harder in 2013!

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View Brit's profile


6811 posts in 2348 days

#8 posted 10-11-2012 11:23 PM

Not sure how many guitars you plan on making Stewart so it might not be a worthwhile investment, but you can buy a device for a trim router that automatically adjusts for the varying arches in the top and back. I remembered reading about this gadget a few years ago when you mentioned your issue. It is made by LMI (Luthier’s Music Supplies) and is called the Ribbecke Binding Machine. Not sure if it is still available.

Knowing you, you’ll probably fashion something better from an old tin can anyway :o)

P.S. Here’s a decent article about Binding and Purfling Tips.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 2664 days

#9 posted 10-12-2012 12:31 AM

Cool build, Stewart. I’m doing one myself and haven’t decided yet how I will approach it. I kinda like this method, however…

Looking forward to more!

-- jay,

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 3407 days

#10 posted 10-13-2012 09:48 PM

Thanks Jay and Andy. I’ve had a good look at both of those approaches and I’m sure I can knock up my version of either one or t’other should I decide to make more (which is highly likely). I do have at least two rather nice sets of soundboards, backs and sides to use up! I can’t quite make out what the Kenneth Michael shuttle is all about yet.

Having said that, the bindings I did on the front of the guitar turned out much better than the back after I Stiffened up the rig I was using, by jamming a piece of wood between the wobbly bits!

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View Grumpy's profile


21696 posts in 3357 days

#11 posted 10-14-2012 10:44 PM

Make you want to #$#$#^%^&^*&^ Stew.
I am sure you will end up with the perfect result.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Mauricio's profile


7115 posts in 2657 days

#12 posted 10-15-2012 04:50 PM

Great progress Stewart. Looks good to me. I cant even see the mistake your talking about.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Roger's profile


20107 posts in 2310 days

#13 posted 10-15-2012 09:04 PM


-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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