Quick and easy
Band Saw Binding Fence
© Frank Ford, 6/29/98; Photos by FF, 6/29/98

Instrument builders usually have slick routines to cut materials to size, but repair technicians have such a variety of materials, sizes and situations that it's not unusual for them to have to "make do" in a hurry.

Here's how I deal with plastic binding and purfling. Whenever possible I buy full sheets (20" x 50") of celluloid binding material. I cut off a 2" strip and have it handy when I need a piece of binding. Because I never know ahead of time how wide I want my binding strips, I cut them as I need them.

It takes me almost no time at all to make up a quick fence by simply nailing a small straight strip onto a piece of scrap plywood. I run the plywood into the band saw and cut so the blade is at just the right distance from the fence to produce my binding strip:

I have the blade guide up high so you can see better. Notice that my blade is just the regular 1/2" 6-tooth blade I use for general wood cutting.

You'd think that a blade this coarse would rip the hell out of a piece of thin celluloid, but because the blade fits tightly in its own kerf in my plywood, there's plenty of support for the celluloid:

This piece is .020 white laminated to .020 black, for a total of .040. I can push the plastic through, holding it against the fence with a simple push stick. My right hand isn't anywhere near as close to the blade as it looks in this photo! The push stick is about 8" long.

I never save my binding fence, because it's vital that the blade fit tightly in the kerf, so I want to cut fresh each time. Besides, it's a piece of junk!

I find it helps a lot to make sure the blade is also at the very end of the cut, so that the binding is supported directly in front of the saw teeth in addition to the support at the sides of the blade.

So, here's the result:

I get a nice strip of binding, and it has a very straight and acceptable but rough edge.

A few strokes over a file laid on my bench will clean up the edge of my binding strip if I need a smooth edge:

I'm just drawing the binding over the file, holding it vertical and protecting my fingers with a rag. This, too is a quick method that works for repair, because I have literally no setup to do.

By the way, I frequently use my
1 x 42 belt sander to reduce the thickness of binding:

Gotta be careful to use a new sharp belt and take small cuts to avoid excess friction, which can melt or burn celluloid binding! The 60 grit belt leaves a rough surface that really sucks up the Duco cement or other solvent glue when I'm installing the binding.

The essence of this process is its ease of setup. In my general repair work, actually making new binding is not an everyday routine, so I like being able to do the job quickly and easily with no preparation at all.

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