Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Buttoned Up





 My two most recent, all together.  Plenty of detail work left before moving onto the varnishing, but I can now heft them to my shoulder and they feel like fiddles.  That's fun.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Viking ship...



... with a crew of horned-helmet warriors.




Please, no Spam.


.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Freed Rib, or Six





 The plates, top and back, are done to the point that they can be glued onto the ribs.  So this means the ribs have to come off the forms.  I have linings both top and bottom, the first step for removal is to trim these from square to tapered.  All sorts of ways to do that.  What you basically want is a big surface at the outside, to create a bigger gluing surface, tapered down to thin on the inside, to reduce weight and stiffness.

I take a compass and set the pencil at about half the width of the lining, in the vertical sense, and trace out a line on the linings all the way around, top and bottom.  Then a sharp knife, cut a bevel from the line to the inside edge, tapering down to meet the rib.  I usually make a few nicks on the form and on the ribs, but nothing so much to worry about.  And it doesn’t need to be perfect right here, because I’ll clean it up later after the ribs are off the form.

Once the linings are trimmed, I use a small hammer and knock the blocks loose from the form.  Then a flat chisel, I strike diagonal cuts to take out the ‘inside’ corners that will disappear anyway. 

When those fragments are out, it’s a matter of carefully loosening the ribs -- may have a few accidental glue spots that you don’t want to rush loose -- and then bending the ribs outward a bit, tipping the form as you go.  I start at the C-bouts and work towards the larger, lower bouts.  Once the endblock is free, you’re pretty much done with the removal.

Then, trim up the blocks and clean up the linings a bit. 

Next, glue on a plate or two.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Square Neck, Round Neck


Shaping the neck is one of the toughest jobs for me.  It's the one place the musician actually touches the instrument, and that is with the hand, probably the most sensitive spot for touch on the human body.  Any bump or dip or other weirdness in the neck is easily found and soon becomes annoying.

For the violin maker, the neck is further complicated by the usual material, highly figured maple.  It likes to flake out, chip out, at the worst possible place.  As is common, I use a saw to make a series of cuts arong the neck, using the Japanese saw in the background, center right.  After that, I then chip it out with a chisel and mallet.  I use a cheap, but easy to sharpen chisel and a wooden mallet, shown here on the left of the photo here.

My experience has taught me two things about myself.  First, in any series of cuts, I'll make one too deep, cutting into material that I actually didn't intend to cut into and then wishing I could then go back in time and yell "Stop" at myself.

The other is that no matter how careful I am with the chisel, I am going to get too close to the final surface and chip out a bit of flamed maple.  There's really no good way to glue one of these little pieces back in, if you can find it among the debris on the bench or floor.

So, now I don't cut as deep with the saw.  I don't take such big swipes with the chisel.  And I'm left with a surface that is a bit farther away from the finished edge.  That's where the big rasp comes in.  This one has coarse teeth and is heavy and long enough to hold with both hands, one on either end.  I can push and take off a decent amount of material without too much fear of chip-out, and it's wide enough that I am getting the beginnings of the smooth surface a musician will not even notice.

Plenty of rasps fill this need.  This particular one I got from Stewart-MacDonald, which they call "Dragon Hand-cut Rasp, Large, Coarse."  You could do worse. 

By the way, I paid full retail for this rasp, and am not being repaid by Stewart-MacDonald or anyone else.  A good tool is worth its price.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A couple necks

Spent part of today rough-fitting a couple fingerboards to a couple necks.  The 5-string is being made with a wider fingerboard, to account for that extra string.  I'm trying just a little wider this time, maybe too wide.  Won't know until I start playing it, a couple months from now, probably.