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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Facing my fears of binding

A few Argapa ukes have been bound. I think binding is needed around a softwood top such as spruce or cedar, but avoid using it as a decorative element  on for example koa, cherry or mahogany instruments. 

This is only because I think it's so damn difficult. 

So this afternoon as I was getting ready to fit the neck on Patsy's piccolo I had this feeling that I'd forgotten something. Of course, I promised myself to bind the spruce top. 

Out with the router and a couple of wooden strips I had kicking around. I use the tiny Stewmac router adapter for archtop instruments. It's fiddly andhard to use but a more dedicated router setup hasn't been needed this far. 

And here's why I post this (apart from vanity). To bend the strips more easily I taped them together with brown artist's tape so they'd get support from each other and be bent in the same way, to start with. 

And I found that the tape helped the strips from cracking! Here's the strips. 

The tape is on the outside of the bouts and the inside of the waist. I'm not sure if it was purely mechanical support or if the cellulose glue on the tape wicked into the wood, but in any case the tape kept the moisture in the strips and they didn't crack. I'm so happy. 

After both were bent to fit one side I sliced the tape apart and adjusted one to fit the other side. This involved some pretty hard work, the uke wasn't totally symmetrical. 

Then I glued them with regular Titebond glue. Superglue is so messy and I didn't want to attach bits of finger. The back isn't on yet so I stuffed the body with blocks of wood and wedges so it wouldn't collapse. So far it looks good but I won't get my hopes to high up - I have had binding looking so bad after glueing I had to route it off and start over. 

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