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  1. #1

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    I don't like to work with plastic but I like the look of it. So I have been using fiber or vulcanized cellulose in place of wood or plastic. The fiber is a little like wood but it is much tougher as it will not split or crack. It is also quite stiff and adds considerable strength when used as binding. There is one more thing I like about it. It bonds very well with hide glue. Here are some pictures of a W/B/W lay up of .090" on f - holes.
    Attached Images Attached Images F - holes bound with fiber-p1010016-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010017-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010025-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010027-jpg 
    Last edited by Matt Cushman; 08-06-2016 at 09:48 AM.

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  3. #2

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    Nice work, Matt! i've always been a fan of the basic traditional "f"- hole, and those pictured are elegant. I also like the idea of a little extra protection for the vulnerable and delicate surrounding the hole itself. Thanks!
    Best regards, k

  4. #3

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    Is that this stuff?

    Fiber Veneer Sheets

    From your pic it looks like it holds a bend well. Is that without heat?
    Jay

    'boobadoobadoobaooababop!'

  5. #4

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    fiber looks cool... but that spruce top is even better!!..nice match too.. hah

    any long term info on that fiber?..how it reacts in time..& with finishes and glue etc etc...binding rot is a problem on lots of now vintage guitars


    cheers

  6. #5

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    Matt, that's a great idea. I use it all the time for the fine lines and never thought to use the thicker stuff for the outside. It's incredibly tough stuff once it's glued. My only beef with it is that if you're going to scrape it your scraper better be sharp otherwise it can leave a pretty ratty surface but if you're going to use a scraper it should be sharp anyway.

  7. #6

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    Meant to answer in my last post. It's like a vulcanized paper and as far as I know has no solvents so it shouldn't have any shrinking problems. Again, it's made from wood/plant fiber and takes glue and finish as well or better than most woods. It's the same stuff that Fender has used for the tag boards in their amps from the earliest tweeds up to their switch to circuitboards. It's also what Gibson has used for their headstock veneers for decades.

  8. #7

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    Thanks, everyone!

    Nice work, Matt! i've always been a fan of the basic traditional "f"- hole, and those pictured are elegant. I also like the idea of a little extra protection for the vulnerable and delicate surrounding the hole itself.
    Thanks, K. I am also a fan of traditional styling. The shape of my guitar f-holes is a larger variation of what I use on my mandolins. F-holes are shaped as they are to help prevent cracks from forming in the top but whenever you cut a hole in a top there is the chance a crack will open there. So adding binding helps to prevent cracking by sealing the end grain from moisture and adding strength.

    Jehu
    Is that this stuff?

    Fiber Veneer Sheets

    From your pic it looks like it holds a bend well. Is that without heat?
    Yes that is the stuff, Jay. It bends well but the thicker stuff requires heat to bend.

    neatomic
    fiber looks cool... but that spruce top is even better!!..nice match too.. hah

    any long term info on that fiber?..how it reacts in time..& with finishes and glue etc etc...binding rot is a problem on lots of now vintage guitars


    cheers
    Thanks, Neatomic. I got the spruce from Alaska specialty woods. The vulcanized cellulose is a great binding very tough and holds up over time. It bonds well with hide glue. It is softened by water so a good finish over it is a must, making it unsuitable for a fingerboard. Another drawback is that dye will penetrate and be dyed along with the wood so very thorough masking is required for sunbursts.

    jasonc
    Matt, that's a great idea. I use it all the time for the fine lines and never thought to use the thicker stuff for the outside. It's incredibly tough stuff once it's glued. My only beef with it is that if you're going to scrape it your scraper better be sharp otherwise it can leave a pretty ratty surface but if you're going to use a scraper it should be sharp anyway.
    Thanks, Jason. Scraping it is slow and you are correct a sharp scraper is a must I also use a tiny fingerplane. I have to cut my own strips so I get the size as close as possible to help minimize the amount of scraping needed. In fact, I often will sand the wood down to the level of the binding on the body. Cutting the strips is a challenge unto itself. I use a small device they call a balsa stripper. Flush trimming around the F-holes is a pain. I start with nippers and then a small finger plane followed by scaping then sanding on the inside but I avoid sanding on the outside.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Cushman View Post
    The shape of my guitar f-holes is a larger variation of what I use on my mandolins. F-holes are shaped as they are to help prevent cracks from forming in the top but whenever you cut a hole in a top there is the chance a crack will open there. So adding binding helps to prevent cracking by sealing the end grain from moisture and adding strength.
    my added bold ^

    yes.. absolutely..which is why my favored shape..the cats eye..often results in cracks running from the sharp bottom point to the bottom of the guitar..such a shame...as it has a classic look

    F - holes bound with fiber-gretsch400_xl-jpg

    thanks for the good info!..per usual, mc

    cheers

  10. #9

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    I forgot to mention earlier that before gluing the fiber it must be sanded or scraped smooth. After the surfaces are smoothed there will be some loss of thickness that needs to be accounted for in the total laminated thickness. The gluing surfaces should be flat to get clean lines between the laminations. The fiber is supplied a little rough with a thin coat of protectant of some kind that is glue resistant and must be scraped or sanded off before you glue it.

  11. #10

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    Thanks Matt, good to know. I may give that stuff a go on my next build. I don't really like working with the solvents needed for plastic, and wood is a pain when it comes to tight bends.
    Jay

    'boobadoobadoobaooababop!'

  12. #11

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    FWIW, I have not had good luck with the fiber alone. When used as purfling with binding I had no problem. But alone when binding a sound port, they swelled noticeably and even bled a little making the white look dingy.

    I was using Enduro-Var, which is water based. Perhaps sealing with schellac first would have been prudent, but after that mess I never tried a second one.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    FWIW, I have not had good luck with the fiber alone. When used as purfling with binding I had no problem. But alone when binding a sound port, they swelled noticeably and even bled a little making the white look dingy.

    I was using Enduro-Var, which is water based. Perhaps sealing with schellac first would have been prudent, but after that mess I never tried a second one.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Sorry to hear you had problems. I have had no swelling problems thus far and I always use the waterbased Target EM 2000 hybrid varnish to seal it. After 2 or 3 light coats of Target, I mask off the fiber with tape, then I dye the wood, then I seal the dyed wood with shellac. After that dries, I pull the masking tape and scrape clean any dye that may have bled in to the purfling and binding. Then 1 or 2 more coats of shellac followed by Target varnish over that. Whew!

    I have fully bound at least 15 F-style mandolins and the headstocks on at least 10 guitars. The oldest mandolins with fiber go back to 2006 and I have never had a customer problem. One reason I like the fiber is it seems to improve the tone. I don't know why there would be any tone improvement but the mandolins bound with fiber have been among my best. I made a batch of 4 mandos. I bound 3 mandos in fiber and one in plastic and all the fiber bound mandos were louder than the plastic bound model. I know that is not a very scientific test but the difference was noticeable. Tone is always subjective and doing accurate comparisons is never easy. I plan on building a batch of 3 guitars next time so I may bind one in plastic just to see how they compare to each other.
    Last edited by Matt Cushman; 08-09-2016 at 09:54 AM.

  14. #13

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    I have thought that binding around the F holes would create a stiffness (either from the plastic being stiffer than the wood, or with wood binding as the grain runs in a very different direction from that of the top, and is usually a different wood). That might affect tone and volume, if correct.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    I have thought that binding around the F holes would create a stiffness (either from the plastic being stiffer than the wood, or with wood binding as the grain runs in a very different direction from that of the top, and is usually a different wood). That might affect tone and volume, if correct.
    You are correct and there is no doubt about it. The amount of flexing is something that can be measured before and after the binding is applied to the top. You can measure the amount of deflection with a simple device like the one I made. The top has to be measured after the binding is applied to accurately measure the amount of deflection under a set amount of downforce. The difference between bound and unbound is slight but measureable. Here is a picture of the same top as the one I showed above, flexing .005" under 3 pounds of downforce. Unfortunately, I did not record what the deflection amount was before binding the F-holes but I know from past builds that a tops stiffness is increased after the binding is applied.
    Attached Images Attached Images F - holes bound with fiber-p1010037-jpg 

  16. #15

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    Thanks for that, this sort of thing is really interesting. It looks like you have built a false body to set the top on to work on it.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    Thanks for that, this sort of thing is really interesting. It looks like you have built a false body to set the top on to work on it.
    Yes, a solid shaped work platform like this one is a must for carving the inside surface of an archtop plate. The bulk of it is made up from the guitar shaped inner pieces left over from when I cut out the body mold for a 17" guitar.
    Attached Images Attached Images F - holes bound with fiber-p1010011-jpg 

  18. #17

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    Here I have the assembled body sanded to 80 grit and ready for binding to match the F- holes. Unlike plastic, fiber is harder than the wood it is protecting. That is a good thing for protecting the guitar, but that can make for extra work when scraping the binding flush to the wood. Binding is usually scraped flush and fiber can be difficult to scrape. For this reason, a close fit is important to help to expedite the task.


    It is easy to cut an accurate rabet with a small trim router mounted on a vertically sliding carriage. The router has a router bit with interchangeable bearings to guide the width of the rabet. The router is locked to a nylon shoe that rides on the top or back plate to determine the depth of the cut. It is a good idea to protect the ribs with a layer of tape before making the multiple passes around the guitar body.


    Once the rabet is cut accurately, gluing in the binding is fairly straight forward, but time consuming as accuracy is a must. I combine pre laminated purfling strips that are supplied 64" long ( just short to go around a 17' archtop with one piece ) with strips of fiber that I cut myself using a balsa stripper with a #19 exacto blade. The thickest fiber sheet is supplied in a 33" length just exactly long enough to go around my 17" archtop with 2 pieces and none to spare. Fortunately, the other thicknesses of fiber are supplied with several inches to spare. The limited length of the outer binding means I cannot have the center seam meet exactly in the center at the tail of the guitar on the back. It is off by 1/16", close enough. I can hide the seam with a little white tamiya putty before finishing.


    Fiber is much different than plastic and there is a learning curve with using it, but plastic has its own set of problems to deal with. Fiber is a lot like a very hard wood that will not crack or break from impact. It seems as if the fiber also has a positive effect on the tone of a acoustic instrument. It is hard to describe, but once the fiber is applied, the tap tone is improved somehow, possibly from a slight stiffening effect on the rib to plate connection. I started using fiber when I needed extra tall binding for a custom guitar project. I liked the results on that guitar. Now it is just out of preference and convenience that I bind instruments with it.
    Attached Images Attached Images F - holes bound with fiber-p1010008-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010038-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010017-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010046-jpg 

  19. #18

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    Great looking work, Matt!

  20. #19

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  21. #20

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    M-ster
    Great looking work, Matt!
    Thanks! M-ster
    Thumpalumpacus
    Handsome!
    Thanks! Thumpalumpacus

    I guess I should show you the headstock binding as well. Basically it is the same process as the body I use pre laminated purfling with strips of fiber to go around the perimiter
    Attached Images Attached Images F - holes bound with fiber-p1010011-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010005-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010021-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010028-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010016-jpg 

  22. #21

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    Here I have the neck ready for gluing to the body. The fingerboard is bound in ABS plastic. Notice that the fingerboard binding is applied in a manner that hides the slight tapering of the fingerboard. The binding maintains the same dimensions from the 1st fret to the 21st fret! Also take notice of the routed area under the 21st fret. This area is cut out to fit the Schatten thumbwheel vol. and tone controls. The controls are wafer thin and are mounted by means of adhesive tape after finishing.
    Attached Images Attached Images F - holes bound with fiber-p1010017-jpg 

  23. #22

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    It is always exciting when you pull the masking tape off the binding when doing a sunburst finish. Here is photo of what the binding looks like before I have done any cleanup scraping at all. If you are careful with your masking, touchup is much easier. At this stage there is only the dye followed by several coats of shellac. Next step is varnish and polish to deep shine.
    Attached Images Attached Images F - holes bound with fiber-p1010032-1-jpg 

  24. #23

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    Nice lookin' burst Matt!
    Jay

    'boobadoobadoobaooababop!'

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jehu View Post
    Nice lookin' burst Matt!
    Thanks Jay! The great figure on this well quartered set of maple works very well with this type of finish.

  26. #25

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    I thought the headstock turned out real nice and I thought I would show you how it looks now that it's finished.
    Attached Images Attached Images F - holes bound with fiber-p1010009-jpg F - holes bound with fiber-p1010017-jpg 

  27. #26

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    Looks great! I really like your shape too, unique but nods to tradition.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  28. #27

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    Great stuff there!

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Looks great! I really like your shape too, unique but nods to tradition.
    Thanks Jeff. This headstock shape has become part of my own tradition. This is my 15th anniversary year of using this shape.

    Great stuff there!
    Thanks Thumpalumpacus .

    Watch for more photos soon. The new owner is a forum member. I think he is planning on posting a NGD thread. I took a few photos that he can post.