Trade Secrets!

"Which binding tools should I choose?"


Issue 71 October 02, 2008

Phone call for Erick!
Customer Question

“Which binding tools
should I choose?”
There are so many gizmos to cut channels for binding and purfling.
Customers ask which to use,
and here’s my advice...

Erick Coleman, October 2, 2008
Photo: Erick Coleman
Customers ask: “Should I use a router or what?!”

So I ask these three questions:
“What instrument are you building?”
“Planning to build more, or just this one?”

“Do you have a Dremel or a router on hand?”
These answers will point to the right tools. Lots of folks are Dremel-powered, and for them we have two different options:



Binding Router Guide
Photo: Binding Router Guide
Got a Dremel? Here’s a setup for small-body instruments
Our binding router guide on a Dremel tool is the perfect size for small instruments like our flat-topped Campfire mandolin kit.

It’s also a good setup for smaller carved top instruments like F5 and A5 mandolins. Our 5/16" binding router bit is the cutter to use.
Photo: Precision Router Base
Using a Dremel on larger instruments
Here’s the Precision Router Base with the addition of the edge guide. This offers more surface area for bigger bodies like guitars and basses. It's a good setup for the small builder who doesn’t produce many instruments. Again, choose the 5/16" binding bit.
Precision Router Base
Photo: Wedge for routing the channel
A tip for instruments with radiused tops/backs:
Since the surface the router’s sitting on is angled, it will want to cut an angled channel (which you don’t want). Fix this by putting a wedge of the appropriate angle under the router base. This keeps the cutter bit aligned with the sides. For the back of our guitar kits, the wedge is around 5 degrees.

For a closeup look at this angle problem, check out the video link for the TrueChannel jig below.
Edge Guide
Photo: Laminate trimmer and router bits

If you have a router or a laminate trimmer, the added power will give you cleaner cuts. With these tools, I recommend our binding router bit set. Each bearing produces a specific channel size, with .012" added to compensate for swelling caused by gluing and the thickness of the glue itself.

What’s a laminate trimmer? It's a scaled-down router intended for edge details on countertops, etc.
That’s the setup I use in my own shop for binding solidbody electrics and acoustic flattops. These top quality bits and bearings can be used for high volume production work.
Photo: TrueChannel

Photo: link to TrueChannel video
Check out the video

Speaking of high
production work...

For shops making all types of instruments, we have the TrueChannel binding jig. This tool, inspired by luthier Tom Ribbecke, works on a variety of different instrument types, including carved archtop models.
Photo: TrueChannel jig
The TrueChannel holds both the instrument and router in alignment. It doesn’t matter if the guitar top is arched or angled — the router stays vertical and adapts as you move the body.

Here’s a tip from repairman Flip Scipio: Flip uses the TrueChannel for cleanly routing away old deteriorated bindings before installing vintage-style replacements.


TrueChannel Jig
Erick Coleman signature

Problem-solving products mentioned above:
Photo: Precision Router Base Photo: Piloted Binding Router Bits Photo: Binding Router Bit Set
Precision Router Base
Adjusts precisely and holds your Dremel tool without wobbling!
Piloted Binding Router Bits
Special carbide tipped bits for routing binding channels.
Binding Router Bit Set
Cuts seven standard binding channels on your instrument, and fits your full-size router.
Buy Now
Buy Now
Buy Now
Photo: Binding Router Bit Photo: TrueChannel Binding Routing Jig Photo: Binding Laminator
Binding Router Bit
Special 5/16"-diameter cutter bit for routing binding channels, with carbide tips that stay sharp longer than steel bits.
TrueChannel Binding Routing Jig
Fit bindings on any instrument perfectly. Our TrueChannel jig turns your laminate router into a floating cutter.
Binding Laminator
This handy jig holds our plastic bindings together for instant, easy lamination work.
Buy Now
Buy Now
Buy Now

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