Building a violin/fiddle

                            Violin/fiddle number 1        

On this page, I have put together all the posts of the building of my first violin/fiddle. This way its easyer to follow the process. In the end of the page there are final pictures and some soundclips of me playing the violin/fiddle  


 

 

Things and dings for violin making


The last couple of days, I´ve made little things for building my first violin. From the left you have the craddle and inside that on the top, you have different clamping cauls and on the bottom you have templates for arching the belly and the bottom. To the right you have the building mould , to templates for cutting out the bottom and the belly and finally a template for making the arch along the grain. I dont know when I´ll start building the violin. Time will show....      

 

 


Building violin number 1

Its been and still is a very complicated summer. My wife left planet earth a week ago after 2 years of ALS and I´m still trying to find myself in the chaos that I´m in. Dont worry. I´m strong and I do things that I like so I will find my way with time and patience. When I´ve had time, the last month or so I´ve been doing little things and one of those has been to start the building of what hopefully will end being my violin number 1. I see it as a new spirit growing from the ashes of my wonderfull wife, Sole.



The first and very interesting part has been to make the sides with their corresponding linings.



















Making the scroll and head of the violin

So here´s another one of those processes that was unsure about. It looks so difficult and it aint easy, but everything have their tricks and so does the scroll of a violin. Lots of small cuts, patience, very sharp gouges and some homemade scrapers.
This is the way it looks now. Its far from being finished, The pin in the scroll is not totally straight from all angles, but you have to look with a critical eye to see that.
I will leave it like it is for now and do the final shaping and finishing off when I´ve made the box of the violin.







Starting the back of the violin


So, I´m working a bit on the violin again

The back is one piece higly figured european maple. I have read , so I know that when building my first violin, I shouldnt use wood like that. Its to complicated to work with. But since I´m kinda stupid, very ignorant and a complete sucker for one piece higly figured maple violin backs, well, I decided to use this piece.

First the chunk is sawn more or less in size and with the drum sander taken down to 16mm thickness.
Next the thing is sawn out with the band saw... 




Next step was to chisel the edge. 5mm thick, 10mm wide (7mm wide in the C)
Be carefull when chiseling curly maple. The grain is going everywhere. Be slow. 






Carving the back

So here I´ve started ´diggin in´ Using the templates you can see lying around on the top left as guides. You can also see that a small knot has shown up on the surface. Lets see how that devellops.
I really like this photo. 



back rough finished on the outside

Here´s the outside of the back rough finished and ready for purfling. As you can see, the knot is still there. It wont disappear. I will take the decission what to do when the back has been hollowed out. If its not looking like something that´ll fall out, then it´ll stay. This violin is not an order. If it had been so, most probably I would have had to make another back. People are getting really picky nowadays. I dont mind that you can see that wood comes from trees and this knot is very small.


Preparing for the purfling

So here I´ve routed the 1,3mm channel for the purfling and below you can see my hands bending the purfling on my supersimple bending iron that I also used for bending the sides. Its made of a 25mm iron tube that I found. Then I went to the chinese store and bought a 60 watt soldering iron ( 4,-€), which I crunched with a hammer and took out the element. The element I put inside the tube, I plugged both ends with aluminium paper. And here we go. It works the best upright. Then you can find the part that has the right temperature. The further up, the hotter it gets. 






Back with purfling on



Working the inside of the back

So, Here´s the back turned upside down. The holes you see, I´ve drilled in my drillpress with a 5mm stop. So when I´ve scooped away all the wood, the back will have a thickness of around 5mm. Way to thick, but better go slow. 

So here I´ve done the the first part of the digging. There´s still a long way to go.
You can see the thickness I would like to achieve drawn with a pensil.



Back of violin almost finished

So here is how it looks now. Almost finished. Its weighing 100 grams and will try to remove some ,more 6 -7 grams.
As you can see, I´m playing with light. The violin is much more a sculpture than a guitar and so its also more interesting taking pictures of it. 







One more of the back. Its now on its final thickness. Weighs 94 grams and main resonance is just under F. Thats all very correct.
The outer edge is not finished and wont be done untill later. I´m happy with the inner edge, but the corners..... I didnt know what to do with them, so thats the way they look now 






Starting the work on the soundboard of the violin

So here´s some really crusty and rustic work. Cut cut into two pieces. Next time I will visit my local carpenter and ask if I may use his big bandsaw.

jointing the soundboard

So next thing was to joint the two bookmatched pieces for the soundboard. There I used my guitar setup and a wedge to keep the jointing surface 90 degrees to the table: 

gluing the top together

So, here´s a picture of the joining of the belly or top. I´m using my guitar setup. I just ´finetuned it with some blocks of wood a 3 screws. There´s no need to complicate life. 



Top ready for f-holes

So here is the belly. Outside finished with purfling and inside almost done. The f-holes are marked and thats what I´m going to do next: 

















The happy violin builder


Here I am cutting the f-holes on a cutting V. The thing I like the most about building a violin is that its quiet and slow. I love that. Good for listening to music and besides, I strongly prefer cutting and scraping over sanding. 




making a mini scraper

Just a small thing... Its weekend.

making a mini scraper. The hole in the middle is there, so that it can hang on a nail and not disappear just like the last one did......




Preparing the bass bar.

Instruments of the violin family only has 1 brace. The bass bar. Its below the bass side foot of the violin bridge.
Its standard procedure to use chalk to fit the bass bar. You put chalk on the inside of the soundboard and rub the bass bar over it. The you cut away the parts of the bar where there´s chalk left untill you reach a point where the whole bar has chalk on its gluing side. Then its ready to be glued.


gluing and shaping the bass bar



Ready to assemble the body

So here´s the 3 parts that will make the body of the violin. All ready and glue is being heated in the glue pot. Nimbus is waiting for things to happen as well. 




Gluing the back to the sides:

The way I, and others, glue is to put hot hide glue on both surfaces. Let it dry, clamp it together and the loosen on or twoo spool clamps a time and reheat/moist the glue with a hot knife that has been in almost boiling water.
This way you can control that everything stays where it should stay and its slow and relaxing. Two important words for me these days. 







Gluing the belly

And here we go with the gluing of the belly. Same show. Just a bit easyer because with the back on, the rib structure is a lot more stable. 





making the neck - body mortise


This is most probably the most delicate and difficult thing I´ve made untill now.
There are so many parameters that have to be correct. Strobels book says:
1) the fingerboard is centered over the front centerline.
2)The neck and scroll is vertical and not twisted sideways
3) The nut is 130mm from the upper front edge
4)The depth of the mortise lets the lower end of the neck extend to the inner edge of the purfling groove or a little past it.
5) the height of the fingerboard over the upper edge of the front is 6 - 6,5mm.
6)The projection of the fingerboard at the bridge line is 27 mm
7) The heel of the neck meets the back button tightly all around and is sufficient for the back button height of 13 mm.

That sounds easy. Just dont forget that all this has to be a very tight fit because its going to be glued with Hot hide glue.
So I sharpened the chisel and started sawing and cutting and I´m pretty sure its all correct. This can of course be done with jigs and routers, but there´s something about sawing and chiseling within tent of a milimeter early in the morning, so thats what I did. Just like the old masters.

Gluing neck and body

So here, the body and neck is being glued together.



violin almost finished

So here´s the violin with the neck shaped and finished.
The violin is basically finished now. I need to fit a bridge and string it up and then give it a test before varnishing. 


Final setup violin


On the first photo you see a little home made tool for fitting the bridge. Its so easy to fit a bridge to a new instrument compared to an old one. The bridges always leave the soundboard a bit wobbly over the years/decades/centuries.

Next 2 photos is with strings on... Almost ready for the requested jig. The setup ended up being spot on with a bridge height of 34mm (standard setup) which I will lower 1 - 1,5mm because I use steel strings. 






Testing the violin in white

So here is a short test of the violin. The Jig is "The Pipe on the Hob"
I like the sound and feel of the instrument and I adapted to it very fast. It´ll change with varnish on, so its to early make to many conclusions, but the first impressions are possitive.



slowly starting the varnish of the violin

A bit of amber on top of a wash coat of shellack. 

Violin in lemon tree

Its been a very mild week, with 16 - 17 degrees celcius, clear blue sky and some 65% humidity, so the violin has been hanging outside in my lemon tree for some 3 hours a day.
As you can see I´ve gone for a patina varnish. At first I finished the violin "straight. Just one color. The darkest.. It was pretty, but looked a bit dull and to "correct", so I decided to go ahead an make some "damage" on the varnish. Its done a lot on new violins, because potential owners, in this case me, dont like the look of a straight finished violin. A have a week pont when it comes to light colored edges and so on.
Maybe I´ve overdone it a bit, but I´m VERY happy with the colors.

Violin has strings on

Well, here´s the violin with strings on.
The violin is very nice to play. Strobels book says main air resonance around a C and I was lucky to reach a C minus just a few cents below, which I think is better than a straight C in order to avoid wolftones.
The violin is very balanced with the 3rd string a little bit weaker. The 4th string is big and warm and the 1st and 2nd are fast and bright. Just like I wanted actually.
It´ll change. It still smells very strongly because the lacquer is not totally dry. Lets see how it sounds after a warm summer.








                                          Testing the finished fiddle.

So here´s some recordings of the fiddle. I´m very happy with it.

A set of Jigs:
Up Sligo, The rollicking boys around Tandaragee, Out with the boys




First a Hornpipe called ´The Drunken Sailors Hornpipe´



A set of reels, Sweeney´s Buttermilk/ Mason´s Apron






1 comentario:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, and the playing as well! Very inspiring.

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