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Message started by Russ on Aug 6th, 2006 at 11:25am

Title: How do you make Rope Binding?
Post by Russ on Aug 6th, 2006 at 11:25am
So I think I have an idea how to approach rope binding but I'd like to hear from someone who has done it. Can anyone describe the method or refer me to a source?
Many thanks,

Title: Re: How do you make Rope Binding?
Post by konacat on Aug 6th, 2006 at 8:27pm
I would be interested in the binding information also. My interest is in putting the rope binding down the center of the finger board. My guess is that I would need to use a hard wood to stand up to the abuse.


Title: Re: How do you make Rope Binding?
Post by achock on Aug 9th, 2006 at 9:19am
This one is just as tedious as it looks.  It is easy to explain, but a little harder to visualize.  Basically you are looking at laminated pieces of wood.  Usually one dark and one light cut into strips.  The pieces are laminated at a 45-degree angle so they look like the "rope" twisting together.  

Start with a number of pieces milled to the same thickness....we used scrap side pieces which are all about 3 inches wide and 20" long. Alternate the colors as you laminate.  If you start with a light piece, end with a dark or visa-versa.  Laminate the pieces together until you have built up a little more than 3" in thickness.

To get that wrapping angle in the binding you will turn the laminated piece on its side so you are looking at all the layers.  Then chop that piece at a 45-degree angle into 3" chunks.  You should be able to chop about 5 or 6 pieces out of your one laminated length.  All of these pieces should have 45-degree angles on either end...so they look like a diamond.

Now you stack the chunks together (top to bottom) to make one long piece.  Glue together and you will now have one long stick of laminated pieces that are all at 45-degree angles.  Our example piece would be 3” x about 16” or 19”.  From here you just rip into binding.

The sad part is ripping your laminated stock.  Use a thin kerf blade so you don't lose too much material every time you cut!

If you then laminate another thin piece of veneer to one side of your rope binding it will help keep it all together.  This stuff wants to fall apart when you add heat and water and try to bend it.    ;D


Title: Re: How do you make Rope Binding?
Post by herbaoyama on Aug 14th, 2006 at 12:33pm
Heres how I do mine. I laminat two differnt color wood. one lite  and one dark. you have slab thats about one inch thick that I slice on a table saw to the thickness of the binding and run it thru a sander to the finish thickness. then I cut  out each piece at 45 degree in a miter box. now you have a piece thats about one and one half inch long that I glue one at time on shelf and hold with masking tape. I hope this is clearer than mud. thanks for all the info   herb

Title: Re: How do you make Rope Binding?
Post by ukeman on Sep 5th, 2006 at 8:03am
Aloha All!

Just used up my stash of Rope Binding on my last series of bird tenors. Will go thru the process of making rope binding in a week or so and will try to post some pictures showing my construction method. So if there is an interest will post soon!   laters, ukeman

Title: Re: How do you make Rope Binding?
Post by Russ on Sep 5th, 2006 at 9:04am
Ukeman - I'd be eager to hear/see it!
Everyone - thanks so much for your responses! You've been a lot of help.

Title: Re: How do you make Rope Binding?
Post by Russ on Sep 5th, 2006 at 9:07am
All - I emailed Dave Means and I thought you might be interested in his response.

Hi Russ,

Glad to help.

I usually make only enough rope for a couple of ukes at
a time, as I usually make it from scraps, and I seldom
have more than one or two orders for rope-bound ukes in
the pipeline at any one time.

Before I get into the actual process, I should point
out that traditional rope binding is cut on the bias in
one plane only (the top view). However, rounding the
edge over significantly after installation (using a
radius nearly equal to the width of the binding)
creates the true "laid rope" look and makes it appear
as though it is cut on the bias in both the top and
side views.

Depending on the scraps available, I usually start out
making ten or so roughly 1" by 4" strips of each wood
color. I start out with longer strips to make them
easier to thickness to about 0.10", and then cut them
down to 4" lengths. I do indeed stagger-stack them for
gluing the alternating color strips, working on a sheet
of waxed paper and using a bevel gauge to keep the
stairstep angle constant. An angle of about 40 degrees
looks best to my eye. Although I use hot hide glue for
the primary assembly of my instruments, I use Luthiers
Mercantile instrument-maker's white glue for this sort
of work.

Once I've glued up this staggered "loaf" of 20-30
layers (depending on whether it's two- or three-color
rope), I let the glue cure (clamping is not really
necessary and usually results in causing the layers to
slip out of alignment), and then I true up the surfaces
and sand off the "stairsteps" on a stationary belt

I attach the loaf to a larger piece of scrap with
double-sided tape to allow me to hold it safely as I
"resaw" it by cutting it in half into two 2"-wide
stacks on a power miter saw set to 40 degrees (or
whatever angle you used). I then stack these and glue
them to make a taller 2"-wide stack, again truing up
the surfaces on the belt sander. I go through the
resawing, stacking, and truing process one more time to
give me stacks that are roughly 1" by 1" and about 8"

I've made a small, simple jig for my bandsaw that is
really just a combination resawing fence and
zero-clearance insert to allow me to cleanly resaw the
stack into strips about 0.125" thick. This jig is just
two pieces of Baltic birch ply glued into an "L" shape
when viewed from the end, so that one side of the "L"
is the fence and the other the base, which is clamped
to the saw table with the blade in a short kerf I've
cut into one end at 0.125" from the fence.

Sawing these 1/8" slices off the stack, you can usually
get about five or six, considering the wood lost to the
kerfs. Then I rip each of these slices into strips
1/8" by 1/8", again getting about five or six out of
each slice. So each "loaf" yields about 25 to 36 rope
strips about 8" long.

My finished rope binding is about 0.10" square. There
will be some roughness in the 0.125"-square strips from
the bandsawing, of course, so I size and true them by
running them carefully through some sort of manual-feed
thickness sander. I've used both a shop-made thickness
sander with an 18" by 5"-diameter drum and one of those
"Luthier's Friend" drill press sanding jigs with
success. In a pinch, you could probably just chuck a
sanding drum into a drill press, and clamp a fence to
the table to make a crude but effective thickness
sander. You'll inevitably break a few of these
delicate strips in the resawing and sanding processes,
but they can always be glued back together.

Rope binding is usually installed with a single dark
purfling line between it and the top or back. The rope
will bend only slightly before breaking if bent cold.
It will bend a bit more if hot-bent freehand without
wetting it. To make tighter bends, use a thin strip of
flexible metal on the outside of the bends (pressed to
the side away from the bending iron) while bending.
With some practice, you can bend it tight enough for
the waist of a uke without too much breakage. Another
trick is to glue purfling strips to both sides of the
rope before bending, leaving the outer strip proud of
the sides so it can be scraped or sanded off after the
binding is installed.

I've always used quarter-sawn wood and glued the strips
with the grain running lengthwise, so I'm not certain
of the practicality of other grain orientations.

Hope this helps... it's labor-intensive, but fun!


Title: Re: How do you make Rope Binding?
Post by Quine on Oct 16th, 2009 at 6:32am
Here's how I made it:

I started with one rosewood board and one maple board.  Each was 3" X 24" X 1/8" thick.  These came from Woodcraft store.  I think I would try to find a "whiter" light wood next time or maybe bleach the maple.
1. I tilted my table saw blade to 45deg and ripped each board into strips 1/4" wide, 24" long.....wider strips make longer rope segments, narrower will be
You'll need to tape/glue the wood to a larger sacrafice board
2. Arrange the strips light/dark/light/dark etc.  The 45deg cut edges will overlap like scarf joints.  Glue the strips up to make a new board.
3. Sand the new board to clean it up and get to the finished binding thickness, around 0.1"
4. Set the table saw blade back to 90deg and the miter gauge to 45 deg.  Cut the board into 1/4" strips.  more or less for taller/shorter binding.

One maple and one rosewood board made plenty of biding for a tenor top/back and fingerboard.  I wasted alot with bad saw cuts.  Next time I can probably get 1.5 ukes out of the two boards

I found it best to use the strips in short segments rather than join the strips into long binding strips

Title: Re: How do you make Rope Binding?
Post by Bryan Smith on Aug 17th, 2010 at 2:30pm
Here's a link to a tutorial with pictures.
Hope this helps.
Bryan Smith

Title: This is A well post, i like!
Post by ed hardy on Apr 1st, 2011 at 6:33am
Thanks for such a great post and the review, I am totally impressed! Keep stuff like this coming.

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