Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ground coat

A non-standard photo of my latest violin with couple of 'watered-down' coats of amber shellac for a ground. The varnish will be applied on top of this, the ground isolating the wood from the varnish.


The ground is a commercial shellac, available from hardward and builders supply stores -- Zinnser Bulls-eye, amber. It is 'watered down' with alcohol, in this case, 4 parts shellac to 1 part alcohol. Learned this from Michael Darnton. It's most likely not what was done in the old days, but it does have interesting properties, and the gold color is pleasing. I used it on my previous violin as well.

We have such great sun in Idaho, that I have not yet built a UV-box for varnishing. This time of year, however, we have clouds, wind, rain, snow, varying throughout the day, so I'm hanging the fiddle in the sunlight of our south-facing bedroom window. Pathetic UV, but better than nothing. The black rectangular areas on the back of this fiddle are actually shadows of tape used to plug holes in the screen. Also, our tender herbs, such as this lavender, are inside. Just outside the photo frame are oregano and rosemary. Perhaps the herb fragrance will help with the violin tone. :-)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fitting linings.

Spent a little time this afternoon cutting lining stock out of a thin willow board, then here thinning it down with a plane to a bendable thickness, about 2 mm.


It's fun to see the curls coming out of the plane. I guess you could use them for a little doll's hair.

Below is one side of lining is glued into place, the other waiting for gluing. Clothespins reinforced with rubber bands make great lining clamps.


The linings do a couple of things. They help make the ribs a bit stiffer, with out filling the whole width. They also create a wider edge than just the rib itself, giving a better gluing platform for the back, in this case, or the top, on the other side.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Joining the back, bending the ribs.

Today I planed the center seam for the back for the Medieval fiddle. This is thin stock, birds-eye maple, straight off the shelf at the local Woodcraft store. I had visions of this being easier to join and the planing went well, but gluing was a bit tricker.


You can see the two pieces intended for the back, on top of a piece of birch plywood. This is just to give a little height to the back-stock, and I run the jointer plane along the bench on its side. As I got the edges near square, I really had to back off the plane. Those little birds-eyes just love to tear out.

Below is a pile of glued and clamped parts -- not the recommended way to store things, but space was at a premium today. Bent one side, cut it to length, and glued it in place today. Did a preliminary bend on the other side. This mould is too thin for these tall ribs, and may need some modification, such as adding several blocks around the perimeter. That or cut another out of thicker stuff.


Underneath is the joined back, held together by the horizontal clamps. The little anvil is a weight to help hold the two joined pieces flat. It was actually a little tricky gluing this thinner stock together, as opposed to the typical wedges in violin making; it wanted to buckle with the clamps, but didn't seem to have enough 'meat' for an unclamped rub-joint.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thinning ribs

Finally back to a little building work today, on the Medieval Fiddle. I cut the rib stock to near width, then planed it down to a bendable thickness with a toothed plane to avoid tear-out in the birds-eye maple.


Below is a close up of the tool-marks left by the toothed-plane blade. Often this is scraped down to a smooth surface in a violin, but I am going to leave these -- they'll be on the inside of the fiddle and virtually invisible -- but I'll know they're there, and smile. It seems very organic, primitive, real.


The 'birds-eye' figure shows up as little dots here -- birds' eyes! A highly non-uniform grain.