Violin making: Rib Assembly on Fiona

The first steps in making Violin #6, Fiona is building the violin rib assembly. To get started we set the corner gluing blocks to the form and then gluing the ribs. It all sounds pretty simple until, like most things, you get into the details.

This first photo shows fitting the template over the form and marking the edges of the corner blocks. The insides of the corner blocks are trimmed and clued first, then the outsides of hte blocks. If you trim the outside, the point is so fragile that it will break when clamping in the C bouts, the tight middle rib pieces.

Fiona #6, triming corner blocks to fit the Strad violin template
Fiona #6, triming corner blocks to fit the Strad violin template

We test if the corner block is trimmed close enough by trying to hold a pencil line on the wooden block. If the block is the correct size the pencil will slip down the side rather than draw on the edge.

This next photo shows fitting the clamping cauls to the corners. A clamping caul is used to hold the exact curve during clamping. If the caul is not an exact reverse surface from the corner block, you will get gaps which are weak glue joints. Also the ribs need to fit, clamp and glue perfectly square, else the finished violin will not rest flat on its side, all four outer edges of the plates touching flat.

Fiona #6, Setting the glue cauls for the corners, top, and bottom blocks
Fiona #6, Setting the glue cauls for the corners, top, and bottom blocks

 

Once the cauls are all trimmed and fit, a test clamp assures that the ribs will fit tight into the corner blocks. The entire assembly is clamped up without glue with each corner seam checked top and bottom for a clean fit. Once everything is correct pencil lines are drawn on the sides and forms to show the exact position when the gluing starts.

Fiona #6, Testing Clamp fit of the ribs onto the Strad form
Fiona #6, Testing Clamp fit of the ribs onto the Strad form

If it doesn’t fit dry, it will certainly not fit in the rush of getting everything together before the hot hide glue starts to set.

Next Steps Trimming the top and bottom and gluing the rib assembly together.

 

The Making Violin #6, Fiona Started today

Sound Testing #5 Edward

With #5, Edward, playable in the white, I did a set of recordings for comparison to when Edward will have his varnish on. The recordings consist of a set of open string bowings; G, D, A, E and then a D major scale, and a three octave A major scale. The final recording is a tapping on the bridge, this measurement will provide a frequency ‘ring’ of the instrument independant of the bow and/or player skill required in the first set of recordings

Prior to making the recordings I tuned the sound post, moving it a bit forward and to the treble side. The slightest movements of the sound post had an impact on the sound of the instrument. The changes ranged from shrill to mellow, to nasal or hollow. The adjustments strive for a pleasant blend of these two scales; a tiche to the left, a tiche to the right, oh too far and a tiche back to the left. Once satisfied, then the sound test were done and recorded. I keep a set of recordings on every instrument first the tap tones taken when graduating the plates, then the instrument in the white, then when the varnish is first complete, then after a couple of months of playing. The scientific process of improvement; measure, compare, adjust, measure, compare, adjust then repeat.

The Start to Making Violin #6

These paragraphs were musings about the  process with finishing Edward, now on to the real purpose of this post: Starting to make the next violin!!!

The following photo shows the spruce and maple that will be planed, cut, glued, carved and scraped into a fine violin.

Raw wood for violin #5: top spruce billet, bottom maple billet, maple side pieces, and maple neck block
Raw wood for violin #5: top spruce billet, bottom maple billet, maple side pieces, and maple neck block

 

Wood for making Violin #5; Foreground is a jack plane fitted to a fixture to create a striking board. It is used to get a square, true edge for gluing.
Wood for making Violin #5; Foreground is a jack plane fitted to a fixture to create a striking board. It is used to get a square, true edge for gluing.

The first step is to plane the plate glue edge perfectly square and straight. The striking plane jig holds the plate flat and cuts square, then the movement across the blade will determine the straightness of hte edge.  The goal is to hold the two pieces of each plate together in front of a bright light. If any light shows through the seam, then it is not a good fit. Holding the plates together square or straight should show no light, then hold the edges a skew with the the top aligned with the bottom on one end and the bottom with the top on the other end. This will show a straight line, and no curve or angle in the cut. The finished edge will match perfectly creating a clean thin glue line in the finished plates.  An axiom in violin making; a little extra care early saves work later. Same as “Haste makes Waste.”

 

Edward #5 Setup to Play his first tunes

Today Edward, Violiln #5, was setup and played in the white. Edward was started in February of 2014. When I went to the Tuscon violin making workshop, Edward’s ribs were done and the plate edges were trimmed. Today setup was completed in the white, prior to varnishing. The reason I’m setting up Edward before varnishing is to take a set of sound recordings before and after the varnishing process. By analysing the pre and post sound samples, I’ll be able to determine what affect the varnish process has on the sound. As I complete more instruments I will be able to see how the sound developes, always making refinements for more and more quality in the instruments.

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Edward White setup
Edward White setup