Mark ( on June 19th, 2008

After I had routed the channels for the binding and purfling, the next step was to mortise the location for the end trim at the tail stock of the guitar. Because this end trim piece fits in between the bindings that go around the perimeter of the top and back it must be installed first.

Body_Clamped.JPGScoring_end_trim_1.JPGScoring_end_trim_2.JPGI started by securing the body to the bench and aligning the end trim piece along the centerline of the tail stock. I carefully scribed with a knife along the edges of the end trim to define the mortise to be cut. With the initial lines scribed, I removed the trim and deepened the lines with the knife. I pondered whether to just chisel this area of the sides out or to use a router.
Rough_end_trim_mortise.JPGEnd_trim_mortise_completed.JPGGluing_end_trim.JPGIn the end I opted for the router to rough out the mortise. I set the depth of a straight cutting bit to equal the depth of the binding channels and made a couple of passes staying clear of the knife lines. With the bulk of the material removed I cleaned things up with a sharp chisel. Gluing the end trim in is not something that you can use a clamp for. So, I just used some tape to hold it in while the glue dried. Once it was dried I spent some time with a file to get the ends of the trim piece perfectly flush with the edges of the binding channels so that when the binding was installed there would be perfect seams with no gaps.

With the end trim installed I moved on to the bindings and purfling. Since there is only binding around the back of the guitar I opted to start with it – hoping that if I made any mistakes they would be less noticable on the back! I first carefully checked the fit of the binding all along the channel an noted any areas that were not smooth or of uneven depth. These areas were kissed with a file until the curves looked good. I also ran the inside bottom edge of the binding along a picece of sandpaper to chamfer it a bit and to allow the binding to seat fully.

Ready_for_binding.JPGBack_binding_in_process.JPGBack_binding_clamped_1.JPGScraping_back_binding.JPGI laid out my materials and got ready for the installation. I used binding tape from Stewart MacDonald to hold the bindings in place. Since these bindings are acrylic I also used some Weld-on cement appropriate for the material. Starting at the neck block I aligned the edge of the binding with the center seam of the guitar and applied cement for about 6 inches. I applied the tape by first pressing it against the binding and then stretching it first along the back and then down along the side. Every six inches or so, it was time for more cement. When I reached the tail block I carefully made a trim cut on the binding aligning it with the center seam. Once this half of the back binding was dry I applied a second strip on the opposite side of the back being careful to match th end seams of the binding. I let the bindings dry at least a full 24 hours. To remove the tape I slightly heated it with a heat gun ( a hair dryer would also work) to loosen the adhesive and pulled the tape at a 45 degree angle to avoid lifting any slivers of wood. Things looked good so, I moved on to scraping the bindings down to meet the back and sides. Notice in the picture that I put some tape on the corner of the card scraper to avoid nicking the back and sides as I scraped. (By the way that white piece you see on the card scraper is one of those flat magnet strips that I have on the scraper to avoid burning my thumbs as I scrape).

Top_binding_and_purfling_in_process.JPGTop_binding_and_purfling_clamped.JPGScraping_top_binding_and_purfling.JPGThe procedure for the top was similar however, it was a bit more tricky because the binding and the purfling strips must be installed at the same time. Again I carefully checked the channels to be sure that things fit well, chamfered the inside edges of the strips with sandpaper and went ahead with the installation. The main task here was to assure that both the binding and the purfling were fully seated in their channels when applying the tape. This operation was also done in halves and left to dry for at least 24 hours before scraping down even with the top and sides.

Completed_top_binding_and_purfling.JPGBinding_and_purflings_installed_.JPGThe end result is pretty good. There are no gaps between the binding or purfling and the body and the seams in the strips look very tight. There is one small area where the binding is scraped down a little thinner than elsewhere ( I think that this is a result of an area where I bobbled and routed a bit too deep during the channel routing) but, it is not real noticable unless you are looking for it. I the pictures you can see a closeup of the binding an purfling along the top and a full shot of the body as it stands now. Next time, I’ll start turning my attention to the work on the neck.

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8 Responses to “Dreadnought Guitar: Installing the binding and purfling”

  1. Mark,

    I have really enjoyed reading this journey of yours into lutherie. I am really impressed how this is turning out. I can’t wait to hear how it sounds when you are done. I expect you to put up a sound file of you performing on your new guitar once the whole thing is done.

    You have a great knack at telling a story both with words and pictures. I am still trying to get the hang of this at my own blog,, and hope to pick up some pointers from you along the way. Keep up the good work.

  2. Shannon,

    Thanks for stopping by and for the nice comments. There have been a few requests for an audio post of the guitar when it’s complete…we’ll have to see what I can do!

    I’ll also be stopping by your blog to see what you are up to.

    Please continue to visit and comment.


  3. Mark, you’re doing a lovely job on the guitar. It will be quite a nice feather in your cap when finished!

  4. Village Carpenter,

    Thanks. It is definitely a different brand of woodworking but, I am enjoying it!


  5. Hey Mark —

    I’ve been using a Dremel router in the router base I got from Stewmac. I find that it doesn’t bobble anywhere near as much as my Dewalt would, but on the other hand it’s not quite as clean on the endgrain at the top and bottom of the guitar, especially in the spruce where it really counts, of course. So I guess everything is a trade-off. Keep the posts coming — it’s looking great!

  6. Hey Mack,

    Thanks for stopping by the site.

    The jig I made for routing worked pretty well with the Bosch Colt. There was still a bit of variation in the routed channel but, I cleaned that up with a file afterward.

    The Colt is not too clumsy and probably a good compromise between a full sized router and a Dremel. It did a pretty good job of giving clean cuts on the spruce. However, as I described in the post, I did use a climb cutting technique on the uphill portions of both bouts. Time to move on the the work on the neck now.

    Please continue to stop by and comment!


  7. Mark,

    We visited Ron and Laura when we went to the boat show in Annapolis and they told me about your project and the blog. Great looking guitar. All of your projects are beautiful. where do you find the time?


  8. Hey Bill,

    Thanks for the comments on the guitar! Actually, it is still in about this same state. Time for me to get back in the shop to start working on the neck.

    The time comes in little bits and pieces…you know how that goes. After a while you get something accomplished. Stop back soon to check progress and let me know what you think.


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