Once the edge of the fretboard is covered with glue, press the binding into place. Use a damp paper towel to wipe up any “squeeze out” or excess glue. Make sure the towel is only lightly damp. You don’t want any water seeping back into the glue joint. Now place the thin strips of painter’s tape over the binding to hold it flush to the fretboard and neck (Photo 4).
Tip: Make sure the binding stays in proper alignment with its neighbor and doesn’t slip out of place. Misaligned binding will leave a gap on the underside of the neck or a ridge where it’s raised above the top of the fretboard. Both these mistakes can be corrected, but you’ll waste a lot of time fixing them and the binding won’t look right.
Allow the glue to dry overnight. Titebond II will dry in about four to six hours, but there’s no harm in waiting a day to make sure the glue is fully set and completely dry. This is especially true if you re-glued the binding on a humid day.
Final clean up. After the glue has dried overnight, remove the tape and check your work. Sometimes painter’s tape will leave a bit of sticky residue, but no worries: You can clean that off with a damp paper towel (Photo 5). If that doesn’t work you can use a fretboard conditioner like Planet Waves Hydrate to remove the residue. For this final cleanup, do not use a razor blade or scraper of any kind, because that could damage the wood, binding, or finish. A damp paper towel is all you need.
Once you’ve cleaned off any tape residue, take a moment to clean and condition the fretboard before putting on a new set of strings. Photo 6 shows our D-55 with its repaired binding and cleaned fretboard, ready for action again.