How to Install and Repair Instrument Binding + Purfling

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Trade Secrets! Issue 71 October 02, 2008
"Which binding tools should I choose?"
Erick Coleman answers a frequent question from customers: Which tools to use for routing channels for instrument bindings?
Trade Secrets! Issue 195 July 18, 2013
A kitchen cutting board makes a great binding jig!
Dan Erlewine modifies a plastic cutting board from Walmart to solve a guitar binding problem. He needs four matching pieces of black-white-black binding, and he shows a clever trick for doing this. From the free Trade Secrets newsletter at
Product Instructions A-BINDINGAPICKGUARD
Binding a mandolin pickguard
Don MacRostie of Red Diamond mandolins explains the steps of binding a mandolin pickguard.
Trade Secrets! Issue 49 November 29, 2007
Binding and fretting a Red Diamond mandolin fingerboard
Don MacRostie shows us his methods for fingerboard binding and fretting on a Red Diamond vintage model mandolin.
Product Instructions I-4200
Binding Laminator Instructions
The Binding Laminator presses multiple pieces of binding material together, so that acetone can bond them.
Trade Secrets! Issue 188 April 11, 2013
Binding repair on a '55 Gretsch Roundup
A truss rod fix leads to a binding repair: Dan Erlewine has to remove the fingerboard from this great old cowboy guitar, and some of the red side dots disappear. He shows two techniques for replacing them.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 238 March 12, 2015
Custom walnut bindings for an 1800s German guitar
You’ve got to see this German guitar from the 1830s! Dan removed the back to repair it, and now he needs to duplicate the wood binding that’s nearly 200 years old. He shows how he started from a plank of walnut to create custom-sized wood binding strips.
Trade Secrets! Issue 3 November 09, 2006
Cut binding strips with an upside down Dremel tool
In this week's issue, Don MacRostie shows Dan Erlewine a neat trick for making custom wood bindings: using an upside-down Dremel tool.
Trade Secrets! Issue 139 May 12, 2011
Dan Erlewine's Facebook fretless bass
Dan Erlewine's been posting photos on Facebook, creating this photo story on how to convert a fretted bass to fretless. It's a Trade Secrets story and it's on Facebook too!

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 253 November 19, 2015
Easy binding repair on a Martin D-35
This fretboard binding caught on somebody’s sweater. The missing piece was never found, and the guitar is in Dan Erlewine’s shop for repair. This kind of quick fix is familiar to guitar shops everywhere!
Product Instructions A-F5BINDING
F5 Mandolin Binding Laminations
An explanation of the multiple black and white binding layers on an F5 mandolin.
Product Instructions A-2043
Hands-on with Laser-Cut Wood Bindings
Luthier Tom Bills provides his hands-on review and tips for using our Laser-Cut Wood Binding Sets.
Trade Secrets! Issue 222 July 31, 2014
Homemade dust collector
Dan Erlewine's homemade dust collection system: Dan used to go outdoors to trim binding, because without dust collection the job got really messy. That’s all changed now: Dan's homemade dust collection system is a simple plastic storage bucket turned into a downdraft routing table!
Product Instructions A-PURFLING
How much purfling?
A handy chart for determining how much purfling is needed for the specific parts of dreadnought and 000-style acoustic guitars.
Trade Secrets! Issue 131 January 20, 2011
How to bind a fretboard, Gibson-style
Erick Coleman's restoring a 1950s Les Paul, and returning the bound fretboard to its original condition. With small files and elbow grease, he shows how to create the fret-end "binding nibs" for that distinctive Gibson look.
Trade Secrets! Issue 142 June 23, 2011
How to fix this guitar if my elbow's stuck in the soundhole?
Dan Erlewine needs to fix the inside of a classical guitar, but can't fit his arm through the soundhole. Thinking outside the box, he finds the solution to this puzzle!
Product Instructions A-BINDINGS
How to Install Bindings
Overview of binding, purfling, and other instrument trim, including binding recommendations and installation techniques.
Product Instructions I-3416
How to sharpen a scraper
How to burnish and sharpen a scraper.
Trade Secrets! Issue 140 May 26, 2011
Installing side dots with the help of plywood scraps
Dan Erlewine shows the easy way to install side dots in guitar neck binding. And he has some tips for using plywood scraps around your shop, too!
Product Instructions I-2400
MacRostie Binding Trimmer Instructions
Assembly and operation instructions for the MacRostie Binding Trimmer.
Trade Secrets! Issue 209 January 30, 2014
Making a glue scraper/saw
Dan Erlewine went to the Columbus Guitar Show to sell some fixer-uppers. Nobody bought this beautiful 1930s Kay Deluxe; its neck joint problem must have seemed like too much work. The guitar came back home and volunteered for this Trade Secret about making a tiny saw for cleaning old glue joints!
Trade Secrets! Issue 24 April 05, 2007
Making a perfect bridge with the Sanding Station
Dan Erlewine's getting fancy with his Sanding Station: with his shop-made jig, he's making better bridges than he ever has before.
Trade Secrets! Issue 207 January 02, 2014
Making a sharp-edged razor file for binding channels
Bad news: the binding on this old Gibson is crumbling to bits.
Worse news:that binding is the only thing holding the body together!
Dan Erlewine's plan is to replace the binding bit-by-bit, so the top doesn't fall off.

By grinding a new edge on a razor file, he creates a tool for cutting crisp square binding channels without a router.
Trade Secrets! Issue 211 February 27, 2014
Making custom guitar bindings when stock sizes don't fit
Replacing a section of this binding from the 1930s requires thicknesses that are no longer available. Dan Erlewine has to custom-size some new wood bindings on his drill press. It's not hard to do: watch the new pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Trade Secrets! Issue 82 March 05, 2009
Making custom-colored patching filler baking soda
Dan Erlewine's cooking with baking soda and ColorTone stains -- fixing a hole in his granddaughter's birthday present.
Trade Secrets! Issue 205 December 05, 2013
Michael Greenfield shows how to sand guitar bodies
Michael Greenfield of Greenfield Guitars explains clearly why it's critical to have properly shaped and sanded guitar bodies before you rout them for binding. Michael shared this great Trade Secret with us during the 2013 Northwoods Seminar last August.

Online video available
Trade Secrets! Issue 227 October 09, 2014
Neat trick for peghead binding (tiger inlay)
Dan Erlewine’s building a guitar for a tattoo artist. It’s solid black walnut, with a fancy peghead inlay: a tiger image drawn by the customer.

In this Trade Secret, Dan tells about that inlay and shares a neat trick for exactly sizing the binding that goes around the peghead.
Product Instructions I-5260
Precision Router Base and Edge Guide
How to assemble and use the Precision Router Base and Edge Guide.
Product Instructions I-4407
Purfling/Soundhole Router Guide Instructions
Set up instructions for the Purfling/Soundhole Router Guide.
Trade Secrets! Issue 200 September 26, 2013
Scraping for sharp looking binding: here's how it's done!
The king of Gibson relic finishes: Tom Murphy is well known as Gibson's go-to guy for relic finishes: perfectly worn and age-cracked. Tom's business, Guitar Preservation, makes this a specialty. In this week's Trade Secret he shows us how to make and use a scraper for cleaning binding after spraying a sunburst.
Product Instructions I-5993
TrueChannel Routing Jig
Assembly instructions for our TrueChannel Routing Jig.
Trade Secrets! Issue 2 November 02, 2006
Use your drill press as a planer to make custom bindings
In Trade Secrets this week: Did you know you can plane wood on your drill press?
Product Instructions I-0583
Using Ball-bearing Cutter Bits for Guitar Routing
Instructions for using Ball-bearing Cutter Bits for guitar routing.
Product Instructions I-1298
Using the Binding Router Bit and Bearings
Tips for routing binding ledges using the Binding Router Bit and Bearings, including how to choose the correct bearing, hand routing and using router tables.