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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 05:29 AM
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Post From plan to sound The construction of a violin

This is a project that was finished a few months ago. Stragely enough it is the only project that I documented so well.

Start with the poster provided by The Strad Magazine of Giuseppe Guarneri (Del Gesù) 1742 Alard Violin. The plan was photo copied at a local printer some years ago. Unfortunately it was copied incorrectly. I have made 3 instruments with the photo copied plan and had to modify dimensions a considerable amount. They turned out very good as a 7/8 instrument.

For this instrument I returned to tracing the plans by hand. Short cuts have a habit of not working as planned. Checking drawings with the dimensions on the plan poster, I know that it isn’t exact but will be close to the poster. One observation is that the dimensions are not consistent, but vary with minor things like edge overhang. Calculate the average overhang to the side in order to fabricate the mold fixture. Using Violin and Fiddle Tech manual Builder and Apprentice as a reference, start with the 2 part mold construction. Creating the drawings required 18 hours, fabricating the mold was 3 hours.

First fabricate the patterns from the drawing. These were stacked 3 high and held together with spray adhesive. A 1/8 inch diameter hole was drilled ½ inch below the neck and end block locations on the centerline, using a 1/8 inch dowel, gives consistent alignment of the patterns to the mold for tracing. The plate out line (photo 01 right pattern) is cut to the line then sanded with an oscillating fence and drum sander. Removing the drawn line, I checked the shape of the pattern to the poster. Noting one variance in the lower bout of 1mm. and the C bout corners were 1mm. to close together. The corner shapes were re-sanded to match the poster. Then the lower bout variance was corrected with a 1mm strip of material glued to that section of the pattern. Upon re-checking against the poster a match to the outline was achieved.

Photo 01

Separating the plate pattern from the bottom of the stack (use sanding dust particles to remove the adhesives stickiness) allowed cutting to the inside shape of the sides based on the average overhang of 3.5mm, plus the stated side thickness of 1.1 – 1.3 mm, giving a measurement of 202.5mm (equaling 207.5mm the poster calling for 207.8mm {varnish thickness not calculated in this measurement}) at the widest point of the fixture pattern with corner blocks. Repeating the sanding and separation process the corner block pattern was completed (photo 01center). By leaving the corner block shapes in the location it will be easy to layout the corner block shapes during mold preparation for rib installation.
The last layer with the plan still attached, cut the corner and end blocks out with a band saw. The neck and end block width was based on a 1720 Stradivarius plan, due to no dimensions specified on the Del Gesù poster (photo 01 left).

Selecting a piece of ¾ inch plywood for the mold lower half and clamping the pattern to it, drill two 1/8 inch holes into the plywood using the pattern holes as a guide (photo 02).

The pattern shape was transferred to the plywood with a pencil. Flip the pattern over and insert the dowels for alignment and the pattern shape is traced to the mold.

After removing the pattern locate one 3/16 inch hole below the neck block ½ inch lower than the alignment hole. Next clamp the ½ inch plywood to the ¾ inch lower section. Using the dowel pin holes as a guide, the 1/8 inch holes were drilled through the ½ inch top section and the dowels inserted to maintain alignment. The 3/16 inch hole is drilled through top and bottom sections with a drill press. The dowels are removed to separate the sections. With the sections separated the ¾ inch plate is tapped to ¼-20tpi (threads per inch). The ½ inch section is drilled to17/64 diameter to allow screw clearance. The two sections are put together with a flat head ¼-20tpi brass machine screw. The edges were aligned before the screw was tightened (the taper of the head of the screw served as a centering device to align the screw hole as it was tightened). This same process was repeated for the mounting hole located at the end block (photo 05).

The two sections were reassembled and 6 additional 3/16 inch mounting holes were drilled ½ inch in from the widest point of the upper and lower bouts and the narrowest point of the C bouts toward the centerline through both sections. Separating the two sections and tapping the ¾ inch lower section to ¼-20tpi and the top section to 17/64. The sections are reassembled with the neck and end block mounting holes. The remaining six holes are counter sunk from the top section allowing the screw head to be at least 1/16 inch below the surface when tightened. The mounting screws were inserted and tightened with minimal torque. Then remove and countersink the remaining holes (photo 06).

The mounting screws are reinstalled (photo 07) completing mounting screw installation. Drill 3/16 inch diameter holes at each corner of the block locations too provide a relief in the corner when the blocks are installed at a later time. The sections are separated and the jacking hole positions at each block plotted (photo 7).

The pattern was reinstalled on the mold and the shape transferred to the top as on the ¾ inch section (photo 8).

After marking the mold with the block locations the blocks are cut out using a band saw cut into the relief holes previously drilled (photo 09). The rest of the shape is rough cut leaving 1mm outside the line (photo 10).
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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 05:42 AM in reply to cfiddlemls's post "From plan to sound The construction of..."
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The shape is sanded with an oscillating vertical fence and drum sander (photo 11), sanding the marked line off of the mold.

The sections are disassembled and the jacking holes are tapped to ¼-20tpi in the top plate only (photo 12) after the clamp cutouts were removed from the mold with a scroll saw.

Photo 13 the sections are reassembled and the block locations are squared with a file and small square. The inside edge of the block locations are parallel to the centerline and at right angles to the centerline at the corner and end block locations. Scribe the centerline on the top section and use the band saw to cut 1/16 inch deep slot on the centerline of the end and neck block locations.


Next flat sand the top and back sections. The final height of the mold is 30mm uniformly. The dimensions specified on the poster require a tapered reduction from the center bout block location to the neck block location. Being reduced to 29mm creating a taper on the mold and adjusting the air resonance at the same time compensating for the lower bout size, this will occur naturally when sanding the rib height and linings flat.

Ribs

Preparing the mold took 8 hours of work. In photo 14, start installing the blocks. The end blocks are installed first, then the corner blocks. To install them glue (with Elmer’s wood glue) a strip of newspaper to the block with glue on the top and bottom of the side. Do not put glue where the mold will separate. The grain orientation is side to side neck and end blocks, with the end grain on the top and bottom of the mold. Corner block grain orientation for this instrument curves from upper bout to corner point. This was done using black willow. The annual rings point to the corner miter joint position.


Photo 15 shows the corner block with the news paper attached to the block. Adding glue to the paper coinciding with the ½ and ¾ sections of the mold, Insuring that no glue is in the area if the separation line. Position the block to the mold and allow the block to extend beyond the top and back slightly.

The block installation is completed (photo 16).

Turning the mold over, check the block height above the top, enough material must be present to flat sand the blocks flush to the surface of the mold top and bottom. While the glue is drying, start preparing the side ribs for installation. Use a scraper to reduce rib material to 1.2mm thickness. The side material is well flamed and required holding the scraper at an angle to reduce the high spots of the curls evenly (photo 18 and 19).
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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 05:53 AM in reply to cfiddlemls's post starting "The shape is sanded with an oscillating..."
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The glue has dried enough to continue with the mold side block installation (photo 21). The micro bar clamps have been positioned to allow flat sanding. Preventing the blocks from being knocked out during this process (photo 21).

Side view of sanding plate (photo 22); note the gap under the mold. This is caused by the blocks extending beyond the top and bottom surface of the mold. The mold is then moved in a circular motion removing material from the blocks. This reduction of the block material is depicted in photo 23 by the lighter shaded circular patterns.

Unfortunately the sand paper was caught and torn by a block requiring replacement (photo 23).

Photo 24 shows where the material was removed from the blocks.

Removing damaged paper from the glass plate. Old spray adhesive was removed with denatured alcohol (photo 25). The glass is sprayed with 3M-77 spray adhesive and new cloth backed paper is pressed into position (photo 26). Insuring no pucker or loose ends of the sanding cloth is present to catch on the blocks.

The sanding process is continued. The new sanding cloth required more force to move the mold. This removed material faster from the blocks (photo 26).
In photo 27 the pattern is lighter due to the color of the sanding cloth. The circular pattern on the left is more pronounced due to more pressure applied during sanding.

I solved this problem by adding a clamp to each end of the mold after removing the micro bar clamp from each end block (photo 28). Than place steel drop (waste end of steel bar stock that drops on the floor when cut to length) directly over the center bout location. Grasping the clamps and moving the mold in a circular pattern was easier and the added weight insured even pressure on the mold.

During the sanding process repositioning the drop to the neck block area was required. The harder neck block was higher then the end block causing uneven removal of the block material. As the material was removed the dust pattern on the sanding board changed to the outline of the mold. The blocks are now flush with the surface of the mold. Remove the drop and tap the mold on the sanding board. Leaving an outline of the mold in the sanding dust (photo 30), examination showed that the blocks were flush with the surface of the mold. Recheck the blocks with a straight edge.

Photo 30 shows the drop position changed to the neck block and the back of the mold is in the sanding leveling process. I started with the drop at the neck end due to the harder wood.
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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 06:02 AM in reply to cfiddlemls's post starting "The glue has dried enough to continue..."
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In photo 31 the lower left of the dust pattern appears to be partly missing, indicating a high spot. I re-sanded lightly with hand pressure in this area and re-checked the dust pattern (photo 32 and 33).

Using the corner block pattern pined to the mold with the 1/8 inch dowels; transfer the corner block patterns to the corner blocks (photo 34).

In photo 35 extend the side curves of the upper and lower bouts across the blocks, then mark and number the blocks for location.

Next cut the corner and end block shapes with a small band saw and a 1/8 inch scroll blade (photo 36 and 37).

In photo 38 the cut off sections are matched with the location marked before cutting.

Using an osculating fence sander the neck and end blocks are sanded to shape (photo 39 and 40).
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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 06:10 AM in reply to cfiddlemls's post starting "In photo 31 the lower left of the dust..."
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I accidentally broke the end and neck blocks loose and had to re-glue them in place (photo 43). While this repair was drying, I started inspecting the wedges for the top and back. I found flaws in the grain pattern of the top plate (circled photos 44, 45, 46, and 47), one corner chipped out, a resin pocket, and a check (split in the end grain of the wood).

Resin pocket and check directly above it, this is in a waste area so will not cause a problem during carving.

Photo 48 is the back wedge with slight warp on inner surface area due to cutting angle. This will be corrected during carving of the plate. I lightly sanded the plate to show the grain and flaming pattern better. I was then able to book match the rib wood to the location they needed to be for aesthetic value (photo 49).

Bending the ribs

Now that the end blocks have dried, start the process of bending the ribs. I turned the bending iron on after mounting it to the work bench. I then set up the glue pot and prepared the hide glue. I want to use a medium thin mixture for gluing the ribs to the blocks.
Testing the iron I found it was to hot. Dropping a small amount of water on top of the iron it evaporated instantly. After turning the iron down one notch, I cleaned the iron with a wet rag. Removing dirt and dust from the iron that may cause problems with bending the side wood.

I re-checked the marking that I had put on the side wood for the position that I wanted that piece in. Compared it to the mold and back, determining the angle of the rib flaming in a finished state. I desired to install it flame leaning to the neck. Cutting the rib marked for the left side in half, I marked the top of the inside of the left center bout.
Wetting the material with water I bent and installed the left center bout (no glue). Test fitting as the bends are made, due to the length of the wood increasing as the bend is completed. I clamped it into position with the waste blocks from cutting of the corner blocks. These blocks were not sufficient to clamp the rib wood correctly. I then made new blocks and clamped the left c bout in position (photo 50).
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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 06:20 AM in reply to cfiddlemls's post starting "I accidentally broke the end and neck..."
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The mold was clamped in a swivel vice attached to the work bench. This allowed me to position the mold in any position required. I repeated the process for the right c bout. After checking the fit, I used medium thin hide glue to attach the right c bout in position allowing ¼ inch extension on top and bottom of the mold. Repeating the same procedure for the left side I finished the installation of the center bouts. Now the drying time has to pass and the shop needs to be cleaned and equipment turned off.

Photo 51 shows the center bout ribs in place and the clamps removed.

The rib height is then reduced to 1/16 inch above the surface top and back with a low angle block plane (photo 52).

Next the sanding board is used to reduce the rib height flush to the mold surface top and back (photo 53 and 54).

In photo 55, I have cut the first half of the miter joint at the corner points of the center bouts using the drum sander. Mount the mold in the swivel vice and prepare the glue.

Turn on the bending iron to allow it to heat up. Select the rib material for the location you are bending next. Check the flaming orientation for correct pattern and wet the wood. Bend to shape starting at the corner block, test fitting as you bend the wood. When the fit is correct glue in place add the clamps and check that the joints are tight. Clean excess glue from the joints. Pull the rib tight adding clamps as necessary to hold the side to the mold. Add glue to the end block and clamp the rib to it. The rib overlaps the centerline to allow cutting both lower rib butt joints at the same time (photo 56).

The upper bout is bent in the same manner and glued in place. A ¼ inch gap is left between the upper bout ribs at the neck location. This will be cut out later during cutting oh the dovetail joint for the neck.

Photo 57 is the completed and glued right side of the instrument.

The ribs are installed and glue allowed drying time before completing the end block butt joint (photo 58).

Four hours later, the butt joint was ready to be finished. Mark the center line on the rib projected from the mold. Lift the lower bout rib high enough for saw clearance with out damaging the rib. Place a small square on the rib (that is glued to the end block) centerline for the butt joint and clamp in place. This is used as a cutting guide, cut the rib with a 64 tooth fine tooth saw. Try not to cut into the end block, after the cut is made remove the excess with a small flat chisel (photo 59). Clean the end block and lay the other rib over the butt joint pulling as tight as needed to have the rib lie flat against the mold. Add clamps to hold rib in position.

Clamp the small square in place lining up with the previously marked centerline. Make sure to allow for saw cutting width. Then test fit the joint. Adjust as required to have a flush butt joint. Then glue in place and clamp, allow 4 hours drying time (photo 60).
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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 06:33 AM in reply to cfiddlemls's post starting "The mold was clamped in a swivel vice..."
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While waiting for the glue to dry I made the arching templates for the top and back plates. The vertical centerline was made from a ¼ inch piece of oak board wide enough to layout the top and back arch on the board. I used 3M-77 spray adhesive to glue the templates to the board. For the remaining arching guides I used 1/8 inch lexan and attached using the same adhesive. Then using a band saw the patterns were cut out and final shaping done with a file. The sharp edges were removed with sandpaper. I checked them against the poster and had to adjust two of the patterns. I then drilled a ¼ inch hole in the end of the pattern for hanging on the peg board (photo 61).

The glue on the butt joint has finally dried and I can continue with the ribs. Using the same process I flattened the ribs to the top and back of the mold (photo 62).

Next I finished cutting the miter joints. Using the drum sander the joints were dressed and rough areas removed photo 63 and 64 is a completed joint.

Next I laid out the center line on the top and back plates matching the flame pattern of the ribs to the bottom plate (book matching). I placed the mold on the marked centerline of the top plate. This is a one piece top that I had in the closet for about ten years. I was able to adjust the position to avoid the flaws in the top plate, tracing the outline of the mold sides onto the top plate using a washer with a side width of 4mm (photo 65) as a guide. Giving me a 5mm distance from the mold to the outside edge of the marked line. The line will be removed later during the final shaping of the top plate (photo 66).

Photo 67 is the back plate laid out using the same method. The back plate is a one piece back. The flaming on the side was matched to the back by moving the mold slightly up or down until the pattern looked the same.

In photo 68, I have removed the holding screws and inserting them into the jacking holes. Slowly turning the screws in ½ turn at a time in cross pattern sequence, the news paper holding the blocks on the mold parted, allowing the top ½ inch section to rise out of the ribs partly. There was insufficient clearance to total remove the ½ inch mold section.

I removed the four center jacking screws and installed longer ones. As I turned these in the screw in the lower right of photo 69 started drawing the ½ inch section back into the mold. After removing that screw the remaining screws lifted the ½ inch section from the sides. I found that the jacking hole in the lower right had penetrated into the ¾ inch section void that was not noticed during the fabricating the mold. I will have to repair the ¾ inch section if I wish to use this mold.

The lining installation is next. Photo 70 is the ¾ inch mold section with the ribs attached and clamps added to prevent knocking the blocks loose during the lining installation. The clamps serve as a stand during this process.
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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 06:38 AM in reply to cfiddlemls's post starting "While waiting for the glue to dry I..."
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Prepare willow strips 6mm high x 2mm wide x 300mm long. Sand the side and edge of each strip smooth (photo 71).

Use a chisel to notch a bevel into the corner blocks of the center bout (photo 72).

Cut a bevel on one end of the lining. Then position it into the bevel of the lower corner block. Bend the lining and clamp in place with a clothes pin. Holding the lining to the couture of the rib mark the other end at the corner block, remove the lining and cut a bevel at the marked location (photo 74 and 75).

Wet the lining and install it with the bevels into the corner blocks. Add the cloths pins and allow to dry overnight (photo 75 and 76).
The lining will retain the shape long enough to glue in place the next day. This same process is used on the rest of the linings. The other method is to bend the linings on the bending iron and glue them in place. When glued in place the linings need to be 3mm higher in the upper bouts and 1mm higher than the lower bouts. This will compensate for the air volume difference in the upper and lower bouts (photo 77-80).
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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 06:51 AM in reply to cfiddlemls's post starting "Prepare willow strips 6mm high x 2mm..."
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After drying, flat sand the linings flush to the top of the ribs. Lining material extends 2-3mm above the sides (photo 81).

The lining material sanded flat to the sides. The measurement at the neck block is 29.5mm height. The linings for the back are installed in the same sequence after the top plate is attached to the sides.

Plate carving

Refer to the plate carving chapter of Violin and Fiddle Tech manual Builder and apprentice.

The center lines have been marked previously. The mold shape with the sides has been transferred to the top and back plates. Using the plate pattern (photo 01), check the outline on the plates, line up the centerline and trace the pattern onto the plate’s flat surface.
Remove the pattern and check the outline note variances in the pattern. The outside of the marked line will be the overhang of the final plate shape (photo 65-67).
Use a small band saw and cut outside the line marked on the plates (photo 83). Save as much of the cut off material as possible, for use later making blocks and repair patch material.

Photo 84 is the back plate rough cut to shape the material at the top of the picture is re-sawn into side material. Make sure that you leave a button on the back plate.

Back plate shape sanded to the marked line on the plate (photo 85). The button will be finished after neck installation. The drum sander was used to shape the center bouts and corner wings. The fence attachment was used to shape the upper and lower bouts of top and bottom plate.

In photo 86 the edge thickness is scribed, then darkened with a pencil point.

After marking the edge height, the arch height is marked adding 2mm to the measurement. This will allow sanding the plate flat prior to gluing to the ribs (photo 87).

Scrap top plate material saved for patching and corner blocks. (Photo 89) The plates are sized quickly with the thickness sander. (Photo 90)
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Old Posted 09-04-2008, 07:00 AM in reply to cfiddlemls's post starting "After drying, flat sand the linings..."
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Photo 91 and 92, the plate’s bottom mounting area is sanded flat. This operation was previously done on a sanding board and block plane.

Photo 92 and 93 are the sized plates ready to mount to the carving board.

The top plate is being attached to the carving board with two screws (photo 94).

Top view of the carving board (photo 95)

The spindle block is added (photo 96).

The carving board mounted in the vice (photo 97).

Material is reduced to the edge thickness in photo 98. As the material is removed the grain will change direction. To avoid tear out of the wood change the carving board position. Turn by loosening the vice repositioning the carving board and retighten the vice.

In photo 99 the top centerline arch is shaped.

The remaining arches are shaped (photo 100).
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