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.