The Cannone-inspired Guarneri del Gesù is progressing. After completing the templates, mold and counter-forms, the ribs have been installed. Linings next, then on to the scroll as I like to have the scroll nearly-complete before beginning the plates. I’ll be re-creating the original scroll’s dimensions. Its a large scroll and a departure from the more Strad-style scroll I’ve previously created.
I recently had the opportunity to examine a Peder Svindsay violin from 1961 (sometimes spelled Pete or Peter Swindsay). Peder’s style is interesting, the fluting of his scroll is broad and sweeping and I’ve included a picture of that below, however, i was particularly impressed with his corner miters. These manage to include a graceful sweep along the c-bout line and have a certain liveliness and energy. Corner miters are always done by hand and are clear sign of the maker’s patience and care.
Peder was originally from Norway and a founding member of the Violin Maker’s Association of British Columbia in 1957. He was an accomplished violin, viola, cello and bow maker. He owed a shop in Vancouver for some time and won many awards for his work at the Association competitions and internationally.
Bow making is specialty onto itself. Most violin makers don’t make bows, and most bow makers only make bows.
Check out this video posted by The Strad today. Make by Dawid Gumula, it has W.D. “Bill” Watson take us through the bow making process. Its just under 10 minutes and well worth watching.
The first of the two Stainers is complete. The final varnish color is a deep maroon red. The strings chosen for the instrument are Pirastro Passion sheep gut wire wound stabilized strings. The instrument is very easy to play and has a deep tonal color and these strings give it an extra kick in complexity. I’m still in the process of photographing the one piece pillow maple back, but here’s what the front looks like.
And if you’re curious about the photography setup, here’s a peak at that too. Look for an article in the near future on how I put together and use this inexpensive setup.
This was my first cradle, I designed it so that it can fit both violin and violas of varying lengths. The cradle is intended to clamp into a vice. This style of cradle is useful for hollowing, neck mortise work and violin setup. However, it’s limited in the positions it can be used in, making the rotating purfling fluting jig more useful for some tasks.
I’m placing the F-Holes on the Stainer model, to do so I first tried following the paper written by Alvin King “The Cremonese System for Positioning the F-Holes“.
His method includes Amati models, which should be similar to Stainer, but the layout did not work for the Stainer model. Mostly due to the shortness of Stainer’s f-holes and the length of his top bout.
In the end I set the f-holes based on The Strad poster measurements, a safe upper eye-width, and a comfortable notch location with respect to the stop location.
Check out the latest videos from Davide Sora. Davide’s videos are fantastic demonstrations of tried and true violin making.
His latest is a set of 23 videos on making a violin scroll. You can find this list and indexes of his other videos on my Best Practices page in the Resource section.
Also he’s made a time-lapse of making the scroll from neck block to finished product in 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Check it out!
A vee-board is very useful for fine fret saw work, such as for rough cutting the f-holes, I also find it quite useful for work where the edge of plate (belly or back) needs to overhang, such as using a purfling marker or cutter, or filing edges to shape.
The Art of Violin Making by Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall, first published in 1999, is a step by step guide for making a violin based on traditional methods with an inside mold. One of the most popular books on making, its also a great shop reference for the new maker, and my personal go-to book on violin making.
The book’s primary focus is the process of making a violin using traditional (non-power tool) methods. It has brief overviews on historical and modern makers, tools and sharpening, material selection and glue use, and sound adjustment, but does not delve into detail in this matters.
With about 400 illustrations over 253 pages, including a few color examples of violins from historic makers, and many black and white pictures of the making process, it has plenty of graphic references for the reader.
The book is separated into these sections:
- Part I The Violin Makers
- Part II The Maker’s Workshop
- Part II Violin Construction
- Sound Adjustment
- Appendices: Technical terms, Metric/imperial conversion, Suppliers, Collection
Part I The Violin Makers
A 16 page write and color pictures of violins from significant historical and modern makers. The historical section includes chapters on the Amati Family, Antonio Stradivari, the Guarneri family, and Jacob Stainer. In the contemporary section there are bios and opinions on violin making from Paul Bowers, Glen Collins, John Dilworth, Roger Hargrave, Patrick Jowett, and Patrick and Andrea Robin-Frandsen.
Part II The Maker’s Workshop
This part of the book focuses on the workshop, tools and materials. As noted above the method of making in this book focuses on traditional hand-tool focused making of instruments.
This section first touches on the working environment, lighting and humidity control. Then goes on to document the tools needed for making an instrument by hand (without power tools), breaking them into common woodworking tools and specialized violin making tools. The specialized tools include a description of each. A brief section on sharpening follow, as well as short sections on types and selection of materials (such as tonewood). Lastly this section includes a brief section on hide glue and its use.
Part III Violin Construction
This section comprises the bulk of the book, about 170 pages. It goes through a step by step process of making a violin utilizing an inside mold right from preparing the mold to varnishing the violin. Of course there is no substitute for hands on instruction, but this guide is a great aid and reference. Plenty of illustrations demonstrate the steps, jigs and tools and critical dimensions.
This three page section was written by Gerald Botteley and discusses instrument setup, particularly the bridge and soundpost.
This section contains a list of Technical terms, tables for Metric/imperial conversion, Addresses of materials, tools suppliers and journals, and finally a collections of instruments around the world.