Friday, April 29, 2011

A new top, pt 3

With gouge and fingerplanes, I'm working the edge down vertically, rasps and knife-work to bring the overhang under control.

Trying to keep the overhang fairly uniform, as well as trying to keep a nice flow to the curves.

I have a form that I made from a template of the Red Diamond Stradivari. I don't know how good the template was (though I assume it was reasonable) or what original Stradivari form was used. I have a small collection of Strad magazine posters of various instruments to use as inspiration. Here is the rough top on the 1715 "Messiah" poster.

And here is the top on the 1709 "Viotti" poster. I guess I'm soon to make a new form, closer to the information I have at hand, so I can better understand violin design.

I modified the angle of the upper corners to more closely approximate what I saw on the posters, and will give it a rest for the day. I have customer instruments to tend to, and fresh eyes will be better for finalizing the outline.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A new top, pt 2

Using planes of various sizes to get the inside surface flat, which is pretty nice work on spruce -- much harder with maple.

With the inside surface flat, I can lay the rib assembly against it and trace out the overhang.

Using a coping saw, I cut out the rough outline, except for the c-bouts. I'm not clever enough to get in there all in one pass, at least not yet, and I'd rather not break off a corner at this stage.

Using clamps and a bag of bird shot, I can finish cutting out the c-bouts and start to clean up the edges with a rough rasp.

Following the advice of Michael Darnton, I flip one side of the spruce. The idea is that you get a stronger piece of wood, with the grain lines more perpendicular to the surface. I haven't actually measured this but I like the idea. Here, with the full thickness of the spruce, you can see the pattern --
\\\\\\\\\|//////// (the | is the glue joint)
--- that one gets with this method.
Without flipping, you get
//////|////// or \\\\\\|\\\\\\\ .

With a big gouge, it's great fun to remove big curls of spruce, getting down more to something violin shaped.

A little work with some thumb planes, and we start to get a nicer surface.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A new top

I finished installing the purfling on both the top and back, and was disgusted by what I had created. As I had mentioned before, the corners here were an experiment, and after getting the purfling in, I realized that there is no way I could be happy with the result, particularly on the top. So, I broke it against the edge of the bench, to relieve myself of the pondering how to save it, and am off to make another top. I'm still contemplating the back.

Here is the new top, planed to fit and glued with a rub joint.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Antiquing tip #13

The current fashion in violin making is to make a new instrument that looks 300 years old. Some folks are really good at it, many are not. The current fashion is really an old fashion, since one can find factory instruments 100 years old that have a factory antiquing underneath a real antiquing.

Part of the problem is that the use of the fiddle has changed over the centuries, with the addition of chinrests, shoulder rests, good quality cases and such. What people want is a violin that looks like it was abused in a normal way -- varnish wear, rounded corners, worn edges, repaired cracks -- but that is actually in good physical shape. Oh, and don't put any scratches on it after you finish antiquing it.

There are various methods for creating wear marks, but the most successful seem to be a somewhat accelerated schedule of normal wear. Here's one method for antiquing the back of the scroll.

Ok - so that was a bit of a joke. I found the photo while looking through a Flickr site whose user name is "sonobugiardo."

But it's not far off. Some antiquing techniques literally consist of rubbing the instrument across the chewed up surface of a work bench. Here's a story I heard from a relatively high-end maker and I think it might be true. He was at a friend's house with a newly made violin that he was in the process of antiquing. His friend's young son had a remote-control toy truck that the kid was showing off by maneuvering it through the dug up, yet-to-be-landscaped, backyard. The idea came up to tie the violin to the back of the remote-control truck and let it be dragged across the ground for a while. It's one way to come up with random scratch patterns.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Purfling channels and c-bouts

I used a Dremel tool attached to a router base to take out most of the purfling channel. I have, however, become more and more interested in the shape of the purfling as it approaches the corner, so I leave that to be done by hand.

Following a suggestion by a couple violin-making friends on Facebook, I have inserted the C-bout purfling before completing the channel from the upper or lower bouts. This is still a tough job for me, cutting the curves into the corner. Sharper tools and more patience! I did find a new use for an old tool I had -- the tool with the red and black handle is a fretting tool, used to clean old glue and such from fret channels when refretting a banjo or guitar. It is much thinner than the purfling channel, and is therefore really nice for getting wood out of the corner tips.

Things look a little rough here, with the glue still wet and the purfling proud in some places. I use the back of a ball-peen hammer to push the purfling into the groove, so when people ask how I get the purfling in, I can honestly say I hammer it in.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fred Craig, Twin Falls maker

First time I've heard of this maker, but a quick Internet search shows that he was involved with the Arizona builders group. This label appears to be a return-address label, showing that the instrument was made in 1978 and was the 125(?)th instrument Mr. Craig had made.

A shot in through the end-pin hole, using the macro focus on my inexpensive camera. Just a glimpse of the neck-block (in the distance), linings, and some of the bass bar (at about the 11 o'clock position).

The instrument was in for an obvious repair.

A pretty back, the varnish has suffered some over the years. Apparently stored in a warm, then cold, attic for a few years. The varnish on one rib was terribly crumpled, as if exposed to some sort of chemical. Once back together, it had a decent sound.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I should be working on my taxes...

Internet forum talk.

1. I have ants in my house. How do I get rid of them?

2. Use ant spray.

3. But you should use organic ant spray. Avoid the nasty chemicals.

2. Organic ant spray doesn’t work very well.

3. You have to give it time to work.

4. I heard that you could put cornmeal down. The ants take it back to the colony, where it swells up and kills the queen.

5. Queen? Are you sure you’re not thinking of bees?

4. Bees don’t take cornmeal back to the colony. They gather pollen.

6. They don’t gather pollen. They gather nectar. The pollen spreading is a by-product of the nectar-gathering process.

3. Bee colonies across the country are failing, mostly from people using chemical insecticides.

7. I heard it was the cell-phone towers. The radio waves destroy the bees’ sense of direction. They don’t get back home in time and die during the night.

3. Sounds more like Cinderella, only that was the stroke of midnight. It’s clearly the overuse of insecticides. Here are 14 web-sites to prove the point.

7. Of the 14, 12 of them are simply repostings of the first. That doesn’t prove anything.

3. It kinda proves you’re an idiot.

7. I’m pretty sure everyone on this forum knows who the idiot is.

4. Here’s a web-site that shows the use of cornmeal in the control of ants.

2. She doesn’t want to control the ants. She wants to get rid of them.

4. Well, that’s what control means, in this situation.

2. Control. Verb -- dictionary definition, with citation.

3. I am always surprised at the lack of interest in the bee-colony situation. Don’t you people realize how serious this is? It affects our entire food supply.

7. Don’t you mean “It effects our entire food supply” ?

3. Ok, It effects our entire food supply system.

4. No, I’m pretty sure it’s affect. Effect is like a special effect in a movie.

1. From my iPhone: I’m at the store, and there are two ant poisons, but neither says it’s organic. How do I decide.

2. Buy the cheaper one.

3. Don’t buy either. Go to another store and find organic pesticide.

7. No, it is definately ‘effect’.

4. ‘definately’ Ha! can’t even spell.

2. How many bees will she kill driving across town to another store?

3. That’s not the point. In the long run, we need to rid ourselves of our dependence on these terrible chemical pesticides.

6. It’s not the pesticides, it’s the cell-phone towers.

1. From my iPhone: Guys, I’m trying to decide here. I can’t go to another store right now. I need to stop these ants.

8. Have the cellphone company put up a tower next to your house!

2. She’s not trying to get rid of the bees.

3. The cell-phone towers are not the problem. It’s the pesticides. Don’t buy either, 1, go to another store.

8. Maybe she should move to another house.

9. That won’t work. I just moved to another house and it had ants when I got there.