View Full Version : Ebony binding madness

Michael Smith
12-13-2010, 01:58 PM
I'm trying to bind my latest uke with ebony. The ebony is from guitar fretboard stock. I have done three of the four bindings. They were really a bear. I had to glue them back together in several places. They just became so brittle and lacked strength. I have tried bending them in a bender with blanket, On the pipe. I just can't get the last tight cutaway to bend without breaking in a million pieces. Help ME!!!!

12-13-2010, 02:20 PM
can you cut some more to to half the thickness than "laminate" them?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-13-2010, 02:49 PM
Some ebony is like like that. I think a part of it has to do with the way the grain is running which is near impossible to tell with ebony.
I sometimes use a product called Super Soft II which is used in veneer work. You wet the wood down with it before bending. I also sometimes bend a tight radius with a wet rag over a hot pipe. That works most of the time as it puts off a lot of steam.
Now days when I get a board of ebony that bends especially well I'll put it aside and use it only for bindings. The hard stuff I use for fret boards.

12-13-2010, 09:12 PM
Just like Chuck said. Some ebony just will not bend. More like glass than wood. And I've rarely come across any bendy ebony.

I don't install black bindings on anything other than on Tiger Myrtle instruments and after having your experience way too many times, when it comes to black bindings I now use plastic. I don't like using it, can't stand the smell of it and I much prefer wood. But under finish you will not be able to tell if it's wood or plastic, and you can bend it around the tightest cutaway you can imagine.

12-14-2010, 03:52 AM
As an alternate, get some aniline black dye and "ebonize" some maple. I did that for a violin fingerboard and you can't tell it's not ebony and maple is so friendly to bending. Please don't judge the purlfing on this instrument. It was my first musical instrument build and I tried to make it with tools available in the 18th century. My hand made purfling chisel left something to be desired.

Koa Soprano
12-14-2010, 04:16 PM
I guess I had pretty good Ebony for my binding. Had only slight cracking on the waist curves. I even did my rosette with it, that however was a bit of a task, lots of cracking. Looks great though.

Michael Smith
12-15-2010, 06:42 AM
Thanks Guys, I went back through all my ebony and found a piece that would bend better than the rest and managed after three tries to get it to work. I did crack it a few times but I don't think it will show. I am going to save this piece of ebony aside as per Chuck's suggestion and pick up some supersoft 2 for the next time.