Purfling & Binding

Grooves are cut around the perimeter of the body for the decorative inlay strip (purfling) and the outer protective strip (binding). Many commercial guitars use plastic for this..
Here is a piece of rosewood being used as binding. The binding strips are bent with the same technique as the sides.
Getting enough pressure on the purfling and binding is a challenge. The traditional technique is to use rope. Here, elasticized rope is used, which provides additional tension when needed.
Slowly working around the body of the instrument.
Here is the binding and purfling glued in place. In order for the rope not to slip, it needs to be at right angles to the side at the point of contact.


When the rope is removed, the binding is then scraped flush with the top and sides.

Here's an example of a herringbone purfling and maple binding.
Copyright, Shel Sax, July 2001. No reproduction without authorization.
Photographs by Howard Rossman