Dare I bind in Ebony?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Brian McCombs
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Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Brian McCombs » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:03 pm

Putting some thoughts together for my next guitar.
It will be made of mahogany. Tossing around the idea of black bindings. I have a few gaboon ebony boards. Is it a pain to bend ebony bindings? Any tips/advice Thanks.

Euan Hannah
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Euan Hannah » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:21 pm

I've used ebony bindings. They are a bit prone to breaking but mine worked out OK with a bit of care. One of the problems with ebony is that it is so tight grained it is difficult to see where the short grain areas are. You will probably need a few extra bits to cover for breakages.
I think the finished effect of an ebony binding is lovely. Good luck

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James Lister
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by James Lister » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:45 pm

I use ebony bindings quite a lot. they shouldn't be a problem as long as you don't have them too thick (2.2mm should be OK), and as Euan says, as long as the grain isn't too short.

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Jeremy Clark
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Jeremy Clark » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:17 am

And an alternate technique for working with "difficult" binding wood is to to bind in ~1.5mm (just about anything bends at that thickness) and add a 1mm strip of matching wood as "purfling". The aesthetic of "normal" binding just much easier.
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Marcus Dominelli
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Wed Dec 21, 2011 3:33 am

I've done lots of guitars with ebony binding and I've had no problems. Once in a while I break a piece, but not very often.

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Doug Ingram
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Doug Ingram » Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:25 am

Ziricote will look a lot like ebony when used as binding if you need an alternative.

Jim Kirby
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Jim Kirby » Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:38 pm

Ebony can be hard to bend but is also cosmetically forgiving - if you crack a binding during bending, the damage can be made invisible with a little CA and sanding once the binding is in place.
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Brian McCombs
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Brian McCombs » Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:52 pm

Well I won't sweat it then.....I used some kooky mahogany-like hardwood on my last guitar and it was ridiculously hard to bend....Despite trying to unlock the secret to bending them....with water, without water, high heat, less heat etc...etc....I must have broke 15 pcs of them at the waist, I regretted my choice.

Steve
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Steve » Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:36 pm

I've used ebony bindings on a couple guitars. There was not any problem bending. I use a Fox bending machine.

Robert England
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Robert England » Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:01 pm

Steve wrote:I've used ebony bindings on a couple guitars. There was not any problem bending. I use a Fox bending machine.
Ditto, except that I use an Everett bending form rather than the Fox machine.
Robert

Adam Dean

Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by Adam Dean » Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:56 pm

one technique you can do with ebony if you have an area where you feel it is impossible to bend is to put small cuts into the convex side of the curve (like when you kerf the linings) then fill them with ebony veneer/dust and ca glue. I've done this when binding a fingerboard around the soundhole and the result is very clean.

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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by craigleaclocks » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:08 am

Hello,

I’m almost ashamed to admit this.
I decided to use ebony binding on a “baroque” guitar I was making. Using a Fox style bender it bent without any problems, but on the final tweaking using a hot iron I managed to break every piece! I finish up using black plastic instead. (Shame on me)! :(
The guitar subsequently went on to win best in show at a woodworking competition. :D

Regards,
Ronnie.

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jaujau
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by jaujau » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:32 am

hey Brian!

I have had the best advice from my teacher - master luthier Boaz Elkayam (who was known for using thick 3-4 mm ebony bindings on some of his instruments) to let the pipe get very hot and then use a moist to wet rag on the pipe and let it steam the ebony binding to bend it.
allowing some time to get the pipe hot again between bends is necessary as the pipe gets cooler and cooler because of the water.
also he recommended getting a good piece or log of ebony to cut it as quartered as possible to eliminate breakage,
if not possible to obtain such a log simply be patient and prepare 5-6 binding blanks as one or two could split.

my own advice is to use a bending form with bending blankets - as they distribute the forces of bends more broadly along the bent piece..
and again.. bend 5-6 at a time (or more as the form allows) ..

and another thing - personally I don't think ebony compliments mahogany too well.. dark brown rosewood such as madagascan or possibly indian rosewood could compliment it better IMHO..

Good luck!
Marinovski Vyacheslav

simonm
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Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by simonm » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:29 pm

I like ebony binding. Some seems to bend easily and some just wants to crack. So when you are doing it make sure you have some spare strips.

Murphy's law applies: If you have no spares, it will break; if you have a pile of spares, you will wonder why all the stupid people tell you that ebony breaks. :D

kiwigeo

Re: Dare I bind in Ebony?

Post by kiwigeo » Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:01 am

simonm wrote:I like ebony binding. Some seems to bend easily and some just wants to crack. So when you are doing it make sure you have some spare strips.

Murphy's law applies: If you have no spares, it will break; if you have a pile of spares, you will wonder why all the stupid people tell you that ebony breaks. :D
+1

You don't go out on your pushbike without a spare tube on board....the same applies to bindings. Buy a spare when you order the binding.

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