Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ebony bindings

Ebony is currently the material that I favour for bindings. The main function of the bindings on a guitar is to protect the edges from any damage so, of course, a very hard wood such as ebony does the job admirably. Also, from an aesthetic point of view, it clearly defines the shape of the guitar and for want of a better term, looks very classy.

I had been using a supply of ebony off-cuts that I was given but I knew that I would run out of them, so a while ago I bought a fair bit of ebony from my supplier in India.

Geoff’s OO is the first instrument that I have had to use it on. When I got the ebony out of stock it seemed such a shame to cut these beautiful pieces of jet black wood up “just for bindings.”

It took quite awhile to prepare the strips to the correct dimensions, unfortunately the supplier in India didn’t have the facilities to machine them to my required finished size.

Once to size, you have to bend them. Ebony does bend on a hot iron remarkably well and it’s at this stage you start to appreciate using good quality, straight grained, crack free ebony! You can also see that I use the traditional method of clamping the bindings in place with a fabric tape.

Looks good eh?

Wood with Strings

If your reading this blog, then you’re clearly interested in guitar construction- have a look at Peter Brown’s blog; Wood with Strings (there’s a link on my side bar). Peter refers to himself as a hobby builder, but you’ll have to agree he does some very nice work, all of which is meticulously written up. Also all credit to him for being honest and calling himself a hobby builder. I’m not too keen on guys, who build instruments as a hobby, calling themselves luthiers. If lutherie is your source income or you were trained in the art- fine call yourself a luthier, other than that you’re miss-leading potential customers and devaluing the work of “full-time” luthiers. When I had motor-bikes I used to maintain them myself, but wouldn’t have called myself a mechanic.


I’ve just got in this Koa wood. It’s meant to be a six piece set for a ukulele, but I think that I should be able to squeeze out two mandolins. This will be in the future though; I want to keep the wood until I’m sure that it’s dry stable enough to work with. I always seal the end-grain of any new wood with wax and now I also run some thin CA over the surface, towards the end of the board, so any hair-line cracks are sealed and don’t spread.


Have you seen that advert for O2 mobile phones with the guy playing what looks like an original Panormo guitar? Wierd!

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's on the bench?

Phil Hare guitar

I thought that I’d give you a bit of an update on the various projects that are currently on the go. I’ve had a few enquires about the progress of the Phil Hare guitar. Well, the body has been French polished and the neck is being Tru-oiled, so essentially I’m just waiting for the finish to harden-off before the bridge can be glued on and the guitar completed.

Geoff’s OO

Then we have Geoff’s OO- this going to be a lovely little guitar! You can see that the body is together and the next stage will be the bindings and purflings. The back and sides are Honduras rosewood- it looks great, but what a swine to bend! It was just physically hard work- the sides were taken down to 2mm thickness but they really put up a fight. I would estimate that they took me 5 times longer to bend compared to a set of Indian.

The rosette is very nice- two rosettes in one- I’ve made a wooden rosette from the off cuts of the back and then inlaid a ring of abalone.

Talking of abalone, a slight worry here, I’ve noticed that StewMac can no-longer ship abalone and pearl products outside of the US, I hope that this isn’t a sign of things to come- supplies are hard enough (and expensive enough) to find.

Paul’s mandolin

And a few steps behind the OO is Paul’s mandolin. This one is going to be an English walnut twin-pointer with a mother-of pearl rosette. Paul wants a pick-up in this one, so we are going to try one from K&K: it doesn't need a battery which is an advantage for a small instrument.

Here is the video of Phil’s ergonomic guitar....

Labels: , , , ,