Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hollowing the top

After messing about with the fine removal of wood on the outside arching, I find it great fun to gouge out big chips of wood, starting the hollowing on the top.


Before starting the hollowing, I layout the f-holes and drill the terminal holes on each end. This particular step takes me much more time than it should. I draw and redraw the f-holes several times before I get something I think will be ok. Once the holes are drilled, however, I'm committed.


I use a simple cradle to hold the top during hollowing.


The hole drilled in the bench and the hole in the top match -- while arching, I use a 3/8-inch dowel in the bench to hold the top in place, yet allowing me to rotate the top easily.

After getting some of the 'meat' out of the center, I set up my drill press for a rough graduation thickness. In this case, I've set the drill to leave a thickness of about 4 mm.


With the rough-graduation holes drilled, I can then again quickly scoop out most of the spruce, leaving just the 'tips' of the holes for reference. You can also see the previously drilled f-holes starting to be exposed, for example, on the lower hole next to the corner at the lower right, from this perspective.


Switching over to the larger thumb plane, I start smoothing the rough gouging.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Idaho Historical Museum

My friend Bill Elmer and I have often played for events at the Idaho Historical Museum in Boise. A week ago Saturday, we played for a fundraiser auction, Adopt-an-artifact. In addition to playing tunes, we got to play a Virginia Reel and a waltz for a group of young dancers -- a reel thrill for us. :-)

The Idaho Statesman had a reporter there, and caught a photo of us playing. I remember the instant later when the flash registered. Anyway, thought I'd put it here as well, just for something different.

The photographer was Darin Oswald, and the link is here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

arching and varnishing


Down to the scraper, trying to get rid of all the little bumps and grooves on the back.

The arching is nearly finished (at least I'm thinking that now on Friday evening). Will look at them again in the morning, then turn them over and start hollowing.


Two varnished backs. The one on the left, the lighter color, is what I'm currently playing. The one on the right is currently being varnished -- in fact the varnish here is still tacky. I'll rub it down, then add another clear coat or two.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cremona in Nampa

In violin-making, one is always faced with questions that are variations on "How did they do _____ in Cremona?"

Cremona, Italy, of course, was the town of the Amatis, Stradivari, the Guarneris, and others -- THE violin-making focus of the Universe. That was 300 years ago, though, and Cremona has changed. There are plenty of violin-makers there now, but since the time of the classical makers until fairly recently, it had forgotten its violin-making heritage in large part.

Still, we violin makers are always striving to find that 'sound' and 'look' -- although there is no single definition of either.

So today, my wife and I decided that we'd get a little Christmas shopping done. Went to the World Market store here in Nampa, Idaho. I found this in the stocking-stuffer section.


For two bucks, I bought it. Tried some -- actually fairly good, though I'd say not a great value at $2 for the 4 pieces. Still, I now have a little bit of Cremona here in my shop, and think that it will only help my violin-making. It may be the secret of Stradivari!

Actually, I really am amazed and tickled to find anything to do with Cremona in Nampa. It just goes to show how connected the world has become.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Arching on one, varnish on the other

With the purfling in, I'm now to finishing up the arching, using smaller tools, taking less wood as I go. If there is any secret in violin-making, there's a good chance it's in the shape of the arching. Incidental light makes 'problems' easier to see, such as the groove at the upper end of the right C-bout -- need to take care of that!


My previously built fiddle in the varnish process. Here the layer is just on, still wet, and will be set aside for a day or two to dry before the next coat.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Purling channel (WARNING: power tool usage)

For those who have an aversion to power tools in woodworking, you'll want to avert your eyes for this. I have a Dremel tool jig for cutting the majority of the purfling channel. At the So. California Violinmakers Workshop last summer, I got to use a Fordham Rotary Tool set-up. Very nice. I'd like to get one, and may someday, but right now I have this. One thing I particularly liked was the foot-pedal power control. With the Dremel, the power control is on the machine -- really handy if you have three hands. But it occurred to me that I could build a kill-switch for the power to the Dremel to allow it to come to rest before I lifted it off the plate -- always a good time to really mess things up. So I went to the local hardware store and bought a big wall switch, a socket, a box, cover plate, and power cord.


Here's the box assembled, with the Dremel jig plugged in. In practice, the box will rest on the floor where I can operate the switch with my foot.


Here are the two plates with the purfling channel routed. Note that I stop short of the corners, and will finish that up by hand. Using the Dremel tool is still a stressful way to cut the channel, but it is clean and quick. It will take me longer to hand cut the eight corners and the button than it did to do this.


I should add that's it's always a good idea to plan these things out ahead of time. It's all in the design! :-)


Friday, November 5, 2010

Cutting the scroll on one, ready for varnish on the other

My prior fiddle had gotten to the first coat of varnish, but then I really didn't like the way it was going. I stripped it, then started over again. Here it is, with the ground restored, ready to varnish again.


On my current building project, I cut the second turn in the scroll, then started cleaning it up -- apply a chamfer, undercut, adjust.....


Thursday, November 4, 2010

"More and more about less and less"


Working the arching down, at the same time working the channel -- the scoop around the edge. Still a ways to go on the arching, but it's starting to look like a fiddle.

Cutting the channel around the edge of the plate, it's hard to tell how deep you are. Since I cut my plate with it sitting flat on the bench, I built a very simple height gauge.


A blunt nail is the indicator, with little black stripes (at the top, near the head of the nail) marked at 3 and 4 mm above the bench surface. When I get in that range, I can be a little more careful, and go to a more accurate caliper to finish up.

The top is still quite high, about 18 mm in the center. I want to get as much as I can, reasonably, out of this one, but my back is at 16 right now, so I still have wood to remove here.