Skip to main content

Making an Antonio Torres Style Guitar: Binding Ledges and Maple Binding

Few realize the influence of the luthier on the life and career of an artist. Without the existence of an adequate instrument, the fantasy, the emotional richness, the technical precision and the essence of musical interpretation--all would remain latent.

Andres Segovia, 1954

Work on this guitar has consumed so much of my time these past two weeks I haven't been able to blog about the work, much to the chagrin of the young man who ordered this guitar.

The back is on, no hitches or other problems with that task, it rings like a bell when I tap it.

Out came the router, respirator, ear plugs, plus several prayers to Saint Joseph the Worker, for a series of test cuts and then the actual routing of the binding ledges. This step is not for the faint of heart, so many things can go wrong! I still recall when the router bit sent a big sliver of wood flying from the top of a guitar, fortunately I found the sliver and glued it back in place.

Even cutting these binding ledges by hand has its risks...

The back bindings glued in place. I use a stretchy binding tape, available from Lee Valley, to hold the bindings in place. As George Ellis wrote in his book, Modern Practical Joinery, when glueing make haste slowly!

A close up of the end graft and the bindings. Again, I'd like to point out that all the joinery in a classic guitar consists of butt joints, unless you use the famous "V" joint the attach the peg head to the neck...

Tomorrow, I tackle the bindings that go on the top!


  1. Wilson (maybe I've asked this before), how do you humidify your shop and at what level are you able to maintain it?

  2. I use a room humidifier and if I need more moisture, I add a hot pot to the mix. I try to keep the humidity between 37-40%, 45% would be better.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised

Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979

So, you want to build a guitar.

Since the original post, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making, click here to see it, is the most popular post on this blog, I thought I would revisit it and adjust it to what I am using now to make a classical guitar.

The first thing I recommend doing is to buy or borrow copies of the following books:

Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall
The Guitar Maker's Workshop, by Rik Middleton

These are required reading before you begin making a guitar.

Also required reading are these books by Roy Underhill:

The Woodwright's Shop
The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice

Why these books by Mr. Underhill? You will learn valuable wood working techniques if you make any of his projects. The dovetail joints used to join a drawer together are far mor…

The Guitar Maker's Backsaw for Cutting Fret Slots

The overall correct process of placing frets in a guitar fingerboard ("fretting"), is far less straight forward than most people believe. A perfect job, for perfect playability, requires some careful preparation.

Anthony Lintner, guitar maker

Twenty five years ago, I bought my first fretting saw from Luthiers Mercantile. It was made in Germany and had a straight handle on it, basically it was a gent's saw.

First thing I did to the saw was to take off the straight handle and make a nice handle for it from some wonderful Claro walnut that came from a Cottonwood Creek bottom wild grown walnut. I used it to cut fret slots in dulcimer and classical guitar fret boards. The saw served me well for several years until I made the mistake of cutting some brass with it.

Well, I never did get around to sharpening the thing.

The blade is .015 of an inch thick with the teeth set at .022-.023 of an inch. I think it has 22 teeth per inch. It is a great saw and I was very sad to see that…