I've got an early 19th century (pre 1834, the year an inside label states a few repairs were done) classical guitar in for restoration.


The top and back binding was/is ivory. Most of the original top binding is there, a three inch strip has been replace with a whitish wood and all but a small piece of the back binding has been replaced with the same wood.


I have a small piece of real ivory from an old knife handle that will match the top with a little faking. Any ideas for the back binding that would closly match the ivory look? I'd like to stay away from the plastic stuff. A couple suggestions I've come across are Hazelnut or Lime. I've not really seen nor worked with either and so don't have a ready supply on hand :(



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Hi Scot , I guess you're aware of Ivory on piano keys , you could get short lengths from an old piano guy.Also ebony might be good for the black bits? Len

Len is spot on with finding some old ivory from a piano guy, but if that does not work out and you MUST use an alternative and plastic is not an option, consider Boxwood or Holly...a bone colored scrap of Corian from a cabinet shop could also be fashioned into what you need...the Corian idea is a shot in the dark, I have never worked with it except experimenting making saddles and nuts...never bending it.

Thanks guys, those are good suggestions.


My problem with the old piano keys (of which I have a bunch) is that they are short thin pieces so I'd have to cut and glue a lot of little pieces to get a strip (I'm just being lazy, I think). The original ivory binding is one piece the length of the side. It must have come from a strip of a tusk.


I have a slab of bone colored Corian that I tried for saddles (a little too soft I thought) but never thought to try bending it. Have to give it a shot.


The Holly or Boxwood might be the ticket but I'd like to try some lime or Hazelnut if I can find some. That old style "Ivoriod" might work as well. It looks fake to me and I got put off by the "Hazmat" rating of the stuff with the added cost for shipping from the supplier.


Fussy guy eh? Every negative.


I would love to hear if the corian works....

There's always the tagua ("ta-wha") nut often referred to as "vegetable ivory" which comes from a semi-tropical palm tree.  The material once hardened/seasoned is almost visually indistinguishable from ivory although when fresh is edible as it is a complex sugar (also called "corozo" - six species in the . Phytephas  genus).  The "problem" with it is that each nut is only about the size of a very large apricot so it takes lots of individual pieces for binding - also, being a sugar, if you cut it too fast on a band saw without lubrication (water) it will burn brown giving off a caramel smell - the burnt area enters the material from the cut for 1/32- 1/16" so it's hard to restore the color by material removal.  But if it's it's cut slowly and carefully it works well and once given a few months to harden is easily as hard as ivory.  I've used it for nuts and saddles but with sufficient patience it could be binding material (and the scraps are handy to make ivory looking jewelry and inlay).

I don't have a current source as my purchase of several pounds around 15 years ago still hasn't been totally used up but a web search should find it easily.  It's a high quality, inexpensive, renewable resource.



It's easy to get real ivory binding - two bucks an inch:


THANK YOU Frank! That's what I was looking for. I just assumed because of the ban no legal stuff could be had.

Thanks for that info Frank, just ordered enough ivory to bind the back and neck of an 1850's

2-34.  David Warther is great guy to work with, should be the ideal repair for this old guitar.


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