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Natural Binding, How?

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Assuming you have a figured maple top(since that's what the technique is used on most), you mask the sides of th guitar, stain on or spray on your color, then scrape the edge on the face of the guitar to the desired thickness of the faux binding. "how to build your own electric guitar" has a more detailed walkthrough.

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I am planning to stain a guitar body and I want to create a natural binding look. The body does not have binding originally. Is this a dye and scrape technique? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

If you mean PRS-style faux binding, this is how I did it on my last guitar. Didn't mask quite as well as I should've so the results weren't *quite* as even as I would've hoped, but there you go.

I'm going to assume you want to stain the top itself as well here, since I did (black, sanded back, tinted topcoats then clearcoats). Otherwise, skip the first 5 steps. If you're just staining, and not shooting tinted topcoats, skip everything past step 5. If you're staining and tinting, you'll probably want to do it all. Make sense? Anyway, here goes:

1) Mask around the edge, leaving the portion that will become 'binding' unmasked, but masking the top adjacent to it.

2) Seal this binding edge well. You could spray stuff on, but my weapon of choice is some shellac (mix yer own, although I've heard good things about Zinnser's Seal Coat), about 3 coats wiped on with a paper towel.

3) Remove masking tape.

4) Carefully and dilligently scrape (scalpel, single edge razor blade) any and ALL sealer that got UNDER the tape away. If you don't, this will cause uneven staining.

5) Stain your topwood directly, if desired. I use water diluted stains, so that the solvent won't eat away at the sealer (shellac).

6) Once you've got everything stained as desired, shoot a mist coat (clear) of you finish of choice.

7) very, very precisely mask off ONLY the binding edge (And probably the sides, but that all depends on your finish choice). Pinstriping tapes available at automotive supply places is Good Stuff for this kind of thing. Tack it down snugly.

8) Spray your tinted coats, quickly is better, in 1 day is best.

9) When the color's where you want it, and everything's touch dry and a little (doesn't have to cure, or anything), take a fine scalpel blade (#11 is my weapon of choice), and gently scribe around the edge of the masking tape. You don't want the tape to lift the colour coat off with it when you remove it! You won't need much pressure if you use a brand new, sharp blade

10) Use the same scalpel or a single-edged razor to clean up any colour that may have gotten under the masking tape onto the 'binding'.

11) Spray your clearcoats, and consider doing a few 'extra' light passes around the edges; they've got a little less finish on them, and you want enough build thickness to safely 'level' any tiny bump at the transition area. Consider doing a good semi-full level half-way through your clearcoating schedule, so you can apply the last set of coats on a nice, smooth surface.

It's not really horribly difficult to do, the results are great, but it does require very careful, precise masking, and meticulous scraping here and there.

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  • 6 months later...

(resurrecting an old thread)...

Mattia, are you using a washcoat-type shellac mix for sealing the binding?

I applied four coats of thinned (2 parts shellac to 3 parts alcohol) Zinsser Sealcoat last night. Tinted it with a bit of amber and yellow so the maple binding won't be so white. Looks good so far, but I just want to check with you before I start staining and find that I didn't seal the binding well enough. :D



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My 'cut' of shellac was about 2 parts flakes/3 parts alcohol; you should be able to use the Zinnser sealcoat straight, I would think. I wiped on 2-3 coats, removed the masking tape, and carefully scraped off the stuff that had gotten under the tape. It doesn't take much to seal wood, just a thin coat. Shellac dries pretty much isntantly, so you can probably start playing with (Water dissolved) stains within 10 minutes or so.

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Thanks. I'll apply another unthinned coat just to make sure.

For a washcoat over the stain would you use it full-strength as well? It's a 2 lb. cut straight out of the can. The thinned mix I was using is a 1 lb. cut.

One more question - you don't bother masking the binding again after it's sealed, right? I've seen some guys do it that way, but I don't know if it's really necessary, although I'll probably want to mask it when I sand the grain filler.

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I'd seal at full strength, yes, because shellac pops the wood mighty well, although a 1 lb cut will do fine as well. Whatever you prefer.

I do mask the binding after sealing, mostly because I can then sand off stains if I want to double/triple stain, or if I mess up, without risking sanding the sealer off. Harder to sand masking tape off, after all. Also mask it if I shoot tinted laquer for added colour.

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