Dimensions of wood used for violin making

Please put any questions about repairing your instrument or the finish on it in our Repairs section.
Post Reply
Emir Šemšić
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 5:17 pm

Dimensions of wood used for violin making

Post by Emir Šemšić »

I set out to make my first ever violin over the course of the next summer. I've read many online tutorials on this topic(as buying a book is unfortunately not possible), and it is unclear to me of what dimensions should the wood parts be. For example, as I will be making a 4/4 violin, I will buy some plywood of 40 cm length and 25 cm width for the mold. But what about its height? It need not be the same height as the actual instrument? I placed a photo of a violin in the making, and it is clear that the mold is less thick than the rib structure. As for the back and front wood plates, I guess it really depends on whether I am going to make it out of one piece or two pieces. I added another image of the wood plates available. When opting for making a violin back(or front) out of two pieces( Ex.1 and Ex.2), what thickness should I aim for at the thinnest part? What about Ex.3 and Ex.4? I guess it really depends on what violin I will be making, but I'd rather have too much than too little. I am asking because I want to be specific when I go to the woodstore about what I want.
one-two-back.jpg (11.13 KiB) Viewed 8319 times
ribs.png (195.15 KiB) Viewed 8319 times

User avatar
Barry Daniels
Posts: 2630
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:58 am
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Dimensions of wood used for violin making

Post by Barry Daniels »

I have never made violins but I have seen them under construction and the molds are normally about 3/4" thick.

I have a spruce top wedge set that I am using for a mandolin. But it started out as a violin top configured like your example 2. The thin edge is about 1/4" thin; the thick edge (placed in the middle) is 7/8" thick and the overall size of the two wedges after being glued together is 11-1/2 by 14-3/4".
MIMF Staff

User avatar
Bryan Bear
Posts: 1249
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:05 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Dimensions of wood used for violin making

Post by Bryan Bear »

I'm confused about example 4. It shows a slab sawn board. A top cut from that would be flat sawn in the center with perhaps some rift sawn wood at the edges. I am far from in the know about violins, but I don't think I've ever seen a flat sawn top.

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.

User avatar
Jim McConkey
Posts: 924
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:00 pm
Location: Way north of Baltimore, MD

Re: Dimensions of wood used for violin making

Post by Jim McConkey »

I took the MIMF's violin making class quite a few years back, and have since worked on some semi-acoustic violins. We made our mold out of 3/4" (18 mm) plywood, which was 13 3/4 (350 mm) long and 8" (220 mm) wide. You do NOT want the mold to be the full height of the sides, because you still want to use it while gluing in the the bottom linings. in the picture you posted, the maker is doing just that.

I checked some violin top boards I have, and like Barry said, they are about 7/8" - 1/4" (22-6 mm). I think a normal violin edge is about 3 mm, so you have to start out a little bigger than that. Violin tops are almost always quartersawn and bookmatched, like Ex. 1 and 2. Backs are also usually quartersawn, but flat sawn backs are not unheard of. Maple backs that have a quilted figure have to be flat sawn.

If your budget and/or shipping allows, you should seriously consider getting Henry Stroebel's book "Useful Measurements for Violin Makers" The paperback version is only about $13 US, but I understand it may be difficult to get overseas. Try any local libraries.
MIMForum Staff - Way North of Baltimore

Post Reply