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Thread: Binding a side sound port

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Binding a side sound port

    Hi everyone,

    I've just spent two days trying to bind a side sound port. My design called for a b/w/b purfling then a 1.5mm ebony binding. The shape of the port is an oval roughly 45mm long and 38mm wide.

    Cutting the hole itself was pretty straightforward, I made a routing jig and a template bearing bit. Then the real fun began...

    I found in next to impossible to bend 1.5mm ebony to the radius I need. I can get close, but not close enough to get a even match with no gaps. Trying to get the ebony to take the side bend (to match the curvature of the upper bout) was completely impossible. The purfling was easy enough to shape, but again, the side bend threw everything off.

    I ended up with a solution of laminating my purfling and binding around a "plug" form. Rather than trying to bend 1.5mm ebony, I laminated two .75 mm strips, roughly bent to shape. I handled the side bend by making my purfling\binding laminate 15mm tall. Rather than trying to bend in two axis, I glued in this taller assembly and filed it down to follow the curve of the upper bout.

    Although my end result was good, I'm sure there must be a better way?

    Thanks! Josh

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Wales, UK


    I don't bind my side ports for this very reason. I saw a shot of Peter Lieberman's operation and I think that he does the soyndport before bending. It would make sense to do this... The first guitar I ever made had 3mm ebony bindings which I made by laminating. Was the only way to do it...

  3. #3


    If I bind the soundport I use .030 black fiber. If I didn't use that I would use ABS. I just don't need the grief of trying to bend ebony that tight.
    Michael Smith
    Goat Rock Ukulele

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Little River, California


    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Smith View Post
    If I didn't use that I would use ABS. I just don't need the grief of trying to bend ebony that tight.
    Add me to the list of discouraged ebony benders. It will get close and then... crack! I've given up on it on tight bends... Yeah, use black ABS like Michael says instead. Looks like ebony (well sort of) and sure bends easier. Nobody will ever know or really care. Except you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Hawaii Island


    Josh- Hope you're doing well over there. Here is a different way to bind sound ports. Takes only a few minutes and makes a foolproof tight fit. With a little imagination you can adapt it to any size or shape of port. The method uses one of those cheap brass inlay kits found in all the catalogs. It comes with only 1 size of bearing, which does not allow you to add purfling, but people still love the look. They can't figure out how you bent the wide ring. If you have access to a small metal lathe, you can easily make additional bearings which opens up the possibility of adding purfling lines. I've done that and some extra bearings are shown in the photos. Just get the kit if you are interested and I'm sure you can figure it out. I do the inlay, cut out the sound hole itself, and then bend the side. Often I will add blue tape across the whole inlay area on the inside and outside of the side. Don't know if it actually helps. I made my first plexiglass shape template by hand and then had a laser guy make me another one. My handmade one was just as good. Only other tool needed is a router with a base that accepts standard bushings. I love the new 1 1/4 H.P Makita routers for stuff like this.Recognize the guitar side wood? My favorite Hawaiian hardwood! You have to have lived here to know. Have a good one.--Bob
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Pegasus Guitars; 06-26-2019 at 07:59 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Cairns, Australia


    I put this together for the forum on how I do it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Grand Junction, Colorado


    Try using Indian ebony, or Rocklite, or black fiber in layers.
    You will have to re dye the black fiber with black dye to get a black look as it looks grayish when sanded.

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