Friday, July 15, 2016

Violin Making 11: Heading Toward the Arches

Though cutting the purfling channels was a difficult and tedious task- bending, cutting, and installing the purfling itself proved to be much easier and quite fun! One can make one's own purfling, but it can also be purchased pre-made and I saw no sense in going through those steps when the "standard" black-white-black is what is called for. In the picture on the left you can see the top with the purfling laid in place, but not yet glued. I used the bending iron pictured to bend the strips into the outlines for the top and back. On the top I used 6 pieces with a joint at the center joints because those areas get notched for the saddle and neck. For the back I used 4 pieces so that the only joints are on the corners. Once the basic shapes were formed, I had to carefully match up the two corner pieces and make certain each piece was neither too short nor too long. I did not opt for the traditional Stradivarius 'stingers' - where the outer black strip of purfling protrudes like a needle into the corner - instead opting for elongated corners. Being a person increasingly skilled at minute details like this, I found this no trouble at all. Gluing was just a matter of heating the hide glue, brushing it into the channels, and pressing in the pre-fit pieces. After the glue dried I used a small amount of putty on the top plate to fill in a few places where the channel was not quite perfect, this should be unnoticeable in the finished product. I am now onto refining the shape of the outer arches of each plate. This is also a time consuming task, but for some reason one I don't find terribly tedious, maybe because the more I work the wood, the more it begins really looking like a violin!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Violin Making 10: Back At It After Many Years Of Almost No Progress

So... my last violin making post was more than 5 years ago, yikes! In that time I have made some small progress, but have mostly focused on repairing and dealing. Recently I made my first violin bow, but I decided I really need to finish the violin. My real sticking point became cutting the purfling channels. For those that don't know, the purfling is the (usually) three stripe black-white-black inlay around the edge of the top and back plates of the violin. It is not merely decorative, but important structurally, acting as a binding to help prevent cracking. Traditionally the narrow channel in which the purfling is installed is marked and cut by hand using special knives and small chisels. Having just completed the channels on both the top and back, I can assure you it is every bit as tedious and seemingly endless as it sounds. It has taught me an important lesson- if ever I make another instrument, I go modern and use a routing set up to cut the channels- performing this task by hand is not my idea of a good time. The channels are now cut however, and I can begin the fun part of actually installing the inlay.