Custom Violin #23 130

Completed March, 2014

(click any of the thumbnails for a higher-resolution photo)

This red spruce-topped classicsal violin has great lines and a full, robust sound. This goes to a Pittsburgh student, and should meet his needs for the rest of his life.

Construction Photos

The first step in construction is the joining of the maple and red spruce plate wedges with hot hide glue. Spruce corner, end, and head blocks are temporarily glued to the internal form. The ribs are bent over a hot fixture. The blocks are trimmed to shape, and the ribs are glued to the blocks, beginning with the "C" bouts.

The balance of the ribs are glued to the blocks. The linings are bent to shape. The neck is marked on a maple block, and the block is cut to shape with a bandsaw. The scroll and pegbox are laid out on the blank, and shaping begins on the neck. The ebony fingerboard is sized and fitted to the neck.

The points are trimmed and the upper half of the internal form is removed. Linings are fitted into the blocks and glued to the ribs. Work begins on the scroll with a handsaw and gouges, and is gradually refined.

The pegbox is roughed out with a chisel. After a couple of days of tedious concentration, the scroll and neck is nearly finished, and I've found from experience that it's best to set it aside for awhile before I do the final sanding and ease the corners. The blocks are shaped and trimmed. A washer is used to mark the proper overhang onto the top, and it's cut to shape.

The edge thickness is established with a router. Excess wood is removed with a duplicating carver, and the purfling area is smoothed with a laminate trimmer. The top is now ready for purfling. The purfling channel is cut with a Dremel tool, and the corners are cleaned out with a sharp knife.

Purfling is bent over a heated pipe and then glued into the recess with hot hide glue. The top is gradually worked to its final shape with scrapers and with sandpaper.

To carve the inner profile and graduate the top, thicknessing holes are first drilled at random intervals. Wood is removed quickly with a plane, more slowly and accurately with a scraper. The top is voiced by evaluating the parameters of stiffness, weight, and thickness to arrive at the proper tape tone at the correct mass.

When the top is precisely graduated, the f-holes are marked and cut. Then the bass bar is fitted and glued into place, and then the top is once again tuned to the original pitch. The top is glued to the ribs with hot hide glue.

The internal form is removed, the back half of the blocks are trimmed, and the back linings are glued in. The neck and scroll are brought to final shape, and the neck mortise is cut in the head block.

The neck is glued to the body with hot hide glue. Following the same procedures that were used on the top, the back is cut to shape, profiled, the purfling is installed, and the graduation begins with an assortment of planes.

Again by juggling the parameters of thickness, weight, and resonant frequency, the back is brought to the correct stiffness at the correct mass. When the edge is perfectly formed and the ribs are sanded, the back is glued to the ribs, completing the structure.

The instrument is given a thorough sanding, and pore filler is applied to the bare wood. After a final sanding, an amber base coat that will give an underlying glow to the finish is applied. Then the first of a succession of color coats of varnish is applied.


The varnish coats are very thin, and a couple of days are required for each coat to dry. Each coat darkens the instrument until the desired color is attained; then clear coats are applied until the proper depth is achieved. This is a slow process, and one that can't be hurried. When the clear coats are built up enough to allow it, light sanding takes place between coats, with several days between coats. Then the instrument is set aside for a week or two to allow the varnish to cure and harden.

The rubbing out of the finish begins with pumice, rottenstone, and Micro-mesh papers, working to build a level finish with the soft glow characteristic of varnish. The saddle notch is cut in the top, and a saddle is fabricated from ebony and glued in place.

   
The fingerboard is glued to the neck. The pegs are shaved to the proper diameter ane fitted to the head. A special tool is used to measure and fit the soundpost. Bridge and strings are added, and this one is ready to go to its new home.


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