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Body Matched Binding


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Guys,

I'm in the middle of planning out my next design, and I was looking at Ron Thorn's guitars (wouldn't you just love a CNC sometimes!?). Now the Navajo model he built intrigued me - with it's inlaid top. Now It would be possible for me to do an inlaid top by:

  • Making Female Template for shape of Top (cut-out of the actual top shape)
  • Filling said template with bondon/filler/something that sets hard
  • Routing top to that shape
  • Routing cavity in body using female template
  • Binding male template to add extra width for outline of body
  • Rout body to thickness of male template + binding
  • Glue top in

But I reckon that that'll be a bit too much - such a small ledge over the cavity for the thicker template to sit on etc. I'll try it on scrap to see, but I'm not sure to be honest.

But what did strike me was a different idea, if I (when cutting down the body) took some strips off the sides of the body and took them down to ~2mm thick, and then glued them on like binding, would that produce the same sort of effect?

Just looking for your input on this guys, what do you think?

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This neck is flamed black limba with binding made from the same board. The body is black limba with the same flamed black limba binding. It's pretty hard to differentiate between the binding and neck/body, isn't it?

th_prnc001.jpg

th_dyekeep1.jpg

So it's entirely possible to make it look like you've inlaid a top or fretboard if you're carefull about it.

I think you could pull off your method for doing an actual inlaid top, but here's how I would do it:

-make the male template you'll use to route out the body profile.

-use said template and a binding bit to make a template that's smaller by just the amount you want to leave around the edges of the body

-wrap the second template's edges in masking tape and lie it on a flat surface covered with wax paper or something simular

-use bondo or an equivilant to make a female mold of your male template(I have used this method to make male templates for cavity covers with great success)

-make sure you drill some allignment holes in your templates to insure everything gets lined up correctly. You might consider putting some sort of lip on the female template so that it hugs the body, insuring it's evenly spaced from the edges.

-as for the actual routing, I'd route the cavity for the top in the body wood first(while the body is still a blank), then I'd route the actually body profile, but with the template attached to the back of the blank(I would recomend you glue the top into the body before routing the back, to prevent tearing up the fragile edges of the route in the top). This techinique would absolutely require that you drill the allignement holes like mentioned before. You could drill 3 or four holes through where the control cavity would be, so they'd dissappear as soon as your route for the controls.

peace,

russ

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Matched binding won't work for the body, since it'll be one continous strip of visible side grain. The sides of the body will show a variety of side and end grain, so they won't match atall well. Compare the colour of a natural finished guitar at the end grain by the strap pin, and at the side grain one either of the bouts, and you'll see how very different the shades are. Same is true in the area whick slodes into the waist.

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I think an inlaid top should be doable with a router and templates, but that could be my lack of experience talking. :D I'd imagine that if you spent your time getting the templates perfect and used a brand new, high quality bit, you could pull it off. You could also hide any slight cracks by inlaying purfling around the inlaid top. If you attempt this, please post lots of photos.

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With proper planning, couldn't you make one template, slightly smaller than your desired inlayed top, and then use it both for the top to be inlayed and the cavity?

Route around the template with a flush cut bearing guided bit to cut the cavity - the cavity will be the size of the template, plus the diameter of the router bit all around. (Obviously this only outlines the cavity, but once that's done, routing out the interior should be relatively easy free hand)

Use the same template to size your top by using a small straight cut router bit and one of those collar type guides that mount to the base of the router. The top would be the size of the template plus half the difference of the bit and collar going around the whole thing. (So a quarter inch bit in a 1 inch collar would add six-eighths of an inch to the size of the template.)

Proper sizing of the bits and collars used, and the top should be the same size as the cavity it's supposed to fit in.

You'll want to be careful around some of the curves, however - the larger collar won't be able to follow the template as tightly as the smaller bearing-guided bit; you'll either want to make inside curves loose enough to work with your collar or you'll have to do a bit of sizing by hand afterwards.

Actually, it changes the math, but now that I think about the sizes involved, you'd probably have better luck using a guide collar bushing and a small straight bit for the cavity cut as well. (keeps you from having to get very large collars or very small bearing guided bits) Makes the math more fun - the size of the cavity becomes the size of the template plus half the difference of the collar and the bit, plus the diameter of the bit.

I've never done this, but I know my uncle has done something like this for some sort of larger wood inlay. I'll have to ask him about it.

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Addendum - quick google search before going to bed, and it seems that some of the guide bushings are marketed with this idea in mind -

here's the first link I stumbled upon, an article:

http://www.newwoodworker.com/rotrinlays.html

I'm sure there are others, and you could use math and the appropriate bushings to do it, but a kit like this would make it a no brainer.

I was thinking of doing something like you've described myself, now you've gotten me thinking about it again...

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Yes, Ron uses a CNC machine to do this, but I see any reason you can't do it with multiple templates and patience (like others have suggested). My biggest concern would be how much wood is a safe amount of body wood to leave on the top edges when routing. If I'm not mistaken, he uses the small strips of inlay material to hide the joining of the two woods. That would help hide any small imperfections you'd have. But the key words are "small imperfections".. lol But it definitely can be done!!

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Yes, Ron uses a CNC machine to do this, but I see any reason you can't do it with multiple templates and patience (like others have suggested). My biggest concern would be how much wood is a safe amount of body wood to leave on the top edges when routing. If I'm not mistaken, he uses the small strips of inlay material to hide the joining of the two woods. That would help hide any small imperfections you'd have. But the key words are "small imperfections".. lol But it definitely can be done!!

Well, I think it's kinda like those P90 rings that thegarehanman made for his last project - rout the inside then the outside, and it's not too bad.

We're only talking a lip of about 1/4" high, bit wider. Provided the cavity rout goes ok and I take small passes when I get close to final thickness, I hope it shouldn't be too close to collapsing on me. Though test runs will abound before final attempt :D

I could use purfling between the top and body to hide a join, but I'd really like to get it flush perfect if at all possible. I'm not a big fan of abalone on bodies, though I suppose wood strips like Koa/Rosewood may look pretty cool.

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Whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn't route the outside of those puppies. I cut them on a bandsaw close to the final shape, then hand sanded on a level surface. If I had routed those, they would have gotten torn appart, most likely. I think something that's going to be critical here is bit sharpness and the correct speed for said bit.

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Whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn't route the outside of those puppies. I cut them on a bandsaw close to the final shape, then hand sanded on a level surface. If I had routed those, they would have got torn appart, most likely. I think something that's going to be critical here is bit sharpness and the correct speed for said bit.

My bad. Well, I'll let you all know how I get on.

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Whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn't route the outside of those puppies. I cut them on a bandsaw close to the final shape, then hand sanded on a level surface. If I had routed those, they would have got torn appart, most likely. I think something that's going to be critical here is bit sharpness and the correct speed for said bit.

My bad. Well, I'll let you all know how I get on.

I was worried about the routing outside after the inside, your going to have to be very careful because it will tearout and ruin the body if your not careful. Why not do what thegarehanman did, route out the middle, then bandsaw the outside, and you could use the body template with a Robo-Sander to be sure you don't have any tearout. Better safe than sorry. Might take you longer, but definitely worth the headache.

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What will be very important will be having a means of aligning all of the templates properly. I think drilling holes through the male templates where the pots will eventually be would be best. For the female template, the pins are unnecessary as that's your very first route and you could simply use a set of center lines.

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thegarehanman has got it right...rout the perimeter of the actual top first. Then rout the cavity into the body blank next, leaving the body perimeter way oversized. Glue the top in, THEN perimeter the body.

Trying to rout the cavity and the perimeter will leave such a thin wall that the glue squeeze-out will probably blow out chunks when pressing in the top.

CNC is over-rated...just make some good templates :D

Thorn

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thegarehanman has got it right...rout the perimeter of the actual top first. Then rout the cavity into the body blank next, leaving the body perimeter way oversized. Glue the top in, THEN perimeter the body.

Trying to rout the cavity and the perimeter will leave such a thin wall that the glue squeeze-out will probably blow out chunks when pressing in the top.

CNC is over-rated...just make some good templates :D

Thorn

Thanks Thorn for sharing your information with us. What better way to figure out how something was done, than finding out from the actual builder... B) As far as the CNC goes, just ship it to me, since you have such great templates to work with.. haha :D

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Ron, that is so cool of you to drop in like this. Your work has inspired lots of guys. I'm realling jonesing for an inlaid top and a white rosewood fretboard. And your purfling is really, really cool. I feel like Wayne and Garth...

We're not worthy, we're not worthy!

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  • 5 weeks later...

hey,i recently had an idea and made a topic abvout it and got directed here

been reading suggestions...if it wasnt for this forum,i would have cut the body shape first ''then'' hollowed out to add the top...lol,phew

i looked through ron's work on his site..and wow,especially those headstock inlays around the border

is there any of his guitars with the body idea?

i couldnt find anything :D

thanks

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I just followed the link to "inlayed top" off the options list in his pricing guide. Took a bit to find it:

http://thornguitars.com/customguitarhtm/po-inlaidtop.htm

I believe there's more pics of this guitar if you look for the "Navajo" guitar on his site. I imagine there may be others as well?

I'd really like to see something like that without the purfling, and the top inlaid a good 1/2" from the edge of the body, It probably wouldn't look as cool as I think, but I'd like to see it.

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thegarehanman has got it right...rout the perimeter of the actual top first. Then rout the cavity into the body blank next, leaving the body perimeter way oversized. Glue the top in, THEN perimeter the body.

Trying to rout the cavity and the perimeter will leave such a thin wall that the glue squeeze-out will probably blow out chunks when pressing in the top.

CNC is over-rated...just make some good templates :D

Thorn

Hey Ron,

Very cool for you to give out advice here. You rock as always.

Todd

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