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Fret Board Binding Jig


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I almost always bound my fret boards. Even when I make a Fender style fretboard, I split two small strips from the fretboard, taper the remains, cut the fret slots and glue the strips back. I find it much easier to refret bound fret boards and I think that the appearance is much neater without the fret slots visible from the side. Especially in this case, whit an almost invisible binding made from the same board as the rest of the fret board.

Anyway I got tired of the problems with gluing bindings to the edge of a tapered fret board, so I made up this jig:

http://photobucket.com/albums/b162/Swedish...tboardjigg1.jpg

It’s quite primitive, but it’s only a prototype. The problem is that the prototype works so good that I’ve never got around making a better one…

It’s a scrap wood base with a hard wood edge. I drilled some holes directly into the hardwood edge and threaded the wood to accept machine screws. The holes are positioned so they protrude directly above the base when engaged. I used threaded rod and made some (very rude) handles out of plywood to be able to turn the screws. I placed two pieces of strait oak into the jig, “resting” against the screws to spread the clamping power. And on top of all this I placed a piece of plexi to hold down the fret board. This is how I use the jig:

1 Adjust the inner oak strip to the fret board taper

2 Place waxed paper in the jig.

3 Apply glue on one edge of the fret board

4 Slide the fret board into the jig (glue side out)

5 Adjust the outer oak strip so that is a few mm away from the fret board.

6 Insert the binding

7 Tighten the screws some

8 Adjust the placement of the binding if it slips some by pushing down from above

9 Final tightening of the screws

With the binding clamped you still have full access to the joint and it is no problem to use a tool to clean out the fret slots

Anyone else made a jig like this, or has a better way of doing this job? PLS share

Edited by SwedishLuthier
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It seems very over engineered to me - since fretboards are always tapered, they are self clamping (ie: the fretboard is a wedge). As such, all you need is a set of straight rails on a rigid backer board, one of which is adjustable for angle. Set the angle to the same as the fretboard taper, then simple lay the binding on each side, apply glue to the fretboard edges, and push the fretboard in until it wedges it self in place.

I'm sure your jig works like a champ, but it looks like a sledgehammer to crack a nut :D

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It seems very over engineered to me

It took me like 1 1/2 hour to make, and has saved me a lot of time and head ache, so I think that it was well invested time

since fretboards are always tapered, they are self clamping (ie: the fretboard is a wedge).  As such, all you need is a set of straight rails on a rigid backer board, one of which is adjustable for angle.  Set the angle to the same as the fretboard taper

That’s pretty much what this jig does too. But I prefer to be able to adjust the clamping pressure by the twist of a knob (or several) instead of banging (OK, tapping) on the edge of the fret board to create clamping force

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Interesting. I tend to simply use masking tape and medium-viscosity CA, and I'm done in all of 3 minutes. Scraping and cleanup is maybe another 10, tops, but that's all par for the course. Prep (ie, put strips of something in the fret slots to keep the glue out) takes maybe 2 minutes. I also do tend to radius/shape off the end of my fingerboards, hand bend the wood binding strip for that bit, and mitre it in, and that's where the work goes into. I have to say that until now, I've always bound in dissimilar woods. I've also found titebond does a perfectly lousy job of gluing itself to the end-grain bits (end of the board), so I stick with CA. It's pretty clean, and works a treat. I may have to make a version of this that'll let me clamp down the radiussed bit, which is the part that's fiddle. I can't see a huge time savings for gluing the straight bits down.

One thing: my favourite 'glue proofing' method for gluing boards has got to be simply laying down some clear parcel/packing tape. Even CA doesn't stick to certain brands of the stuff, it cleans up easily, you can't forget to put it in the jig, and it's easily replaced. Try it, I guarantee you'll like it.

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Interesting. I tend to simply use masking tape and medium-viscosity CA, and I'm done in all of 3 minutes.

But it tends to be very hard to clean out the higher fret slots before the glue dries. At least if you’re using titebond, epoxy or other thick glues. You have to use very thin strips of tape high up on the fret board. This jig gives you full access along the whole length.

One thing: my favourite 'glue proofing' method for gluing boards has got to be simply laying down some clear parcel/packing tape. Even CA doesn't stick to certain brands of the stuff, it cleans up easily, you can't forget to put it in the jig, and it's easily replaced. Try it, I guarantee you'll like it.

I'll have to look for tape like that. Another method I have thought about is to cover the whole jig with some Teflon boards, like a chopping board from the kitchen store. But then I would have to build a new jig and this works good enough for me as it is.

Edited by SwedishLuthier
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