Violin build real time start to finish?

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Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

Yesterday I had a productive day. In 3 hours or so, I got the bass bar fit and glued, and cut the back so I can patch those 2 spots.

I had 6 clamps made for bass bars, but 2 snapped, I think it was when gluing the parallel bars on the guitar belly. I used a wood screw with a pink eraser behind it. I fit it with the belly clamped with 2 spring clamps to a piece of plywood clamped to the bench. The plywood had a square section cut out, so I set the belly so there was just enough room to fit the bar.

I have had problems a couple times with the fit. Not that I couldn't GET it to fit, but the glue up. Using HHG I would heat up the back and bar on the heat register. Then they didn't fit! Nice. This time I decided to use fish glue. It worked great. Fit it until there are chalk marks the entire length; wipe the chalk off; put a bead of glue on the bar; press in place; slide it around a bit until it wants to stay put; wipe the excess glue off; clamp overnight.

For the patches I cut a round slot out with a small gouge that I use for scroll eyes. I smoothed it up with sandpaper. Now I'll make the matching pieces, and chalk fit them, and glue them.
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Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

Yesterday I trimmed the bass bar down, and drew out the scroll 2X's size. I used a technique that David Beard showed last week on maestro net. It worked pretty good for the main shape of the pegbox and first curve of the scroll, but the scroll is an odd ball with an extra half turn in it, and it looks very circular, and not so much spiral. It has a 4:5 ratio like a del Gesu, and not the 3:4 that Stradivarius and others used. I'll get it looking good, and make a couple half size copies. I'll find out where to place the peg holes too. I noticed the other day that my drill press isn't square. How nice. Isn't that a main point? The holes for locating the back and belly are on an angle. right at the purfling on the belly, and in a ways on the back. So I'll drill 1/2 way through from both sides using the same points. That should keep the holes square. I drill them before I even cut the outline.

The tap tone on the belly went up to g# with the full uncut bar. It is down to 96/280/346. The back is 82/156/312. I used a tone generator on the computer, and matched by ear. So the low mode on the belly rose more than the ring mode with the completed bass bar.

I use a simple "exponential regression?" formula to get the heights. Full height in the middle, then divide by 10/9 at 3/4, 10/9 squared at 1/2, 10/9 cubed at 1/4, and 10/9 to the fourth power. I keep the little cheat sheet I made so I don't forget.
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Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

Happy New Year.

I tried to finish up a couple instruments. A baroque guitar in G needed frets tied on. I got them on, and overnight the bridge popped off. Nice.

I went to the violin that just needed to be set up. It takes longer than you think. At least for me. I've only done about a dozen, so it isn't an everyday thing for me. Getting the tailpiece in the right place. Carving the nut, saddle and bridge. This is the bridge I did. It is flat on the TP side, and curved on the neck side. After stringing it up with Warchal Karneol's, it seems that the A is muffled some compared to the others. I know it will open up some. The E seems really stiff to me. I'll have to look into what to try. The bridge can be carved more, I just need to find where to carve!

On the Padauk violin, I have the one patch done and the gum pocket patch started to give me trouble. I was fitting the patch, and it started to split when I pushed harder while chalk fitting. That was a dumb idea, wasn't it? If it was a sound post patch, most would make a form to set it in to avoid doing something stupid like that.

I mixed some fresh HHG, spread it on the offending crack, worked it in, and it seems fine. I'll glue a couple studs near the ends of where it opened up. Then I'll finish fitting the patch. Someone told me, I forget who, that Padauk doesn't have a lot of cross grain bending ability. I might put a sound post PAD in, just to keep the forces spread out over a couple grains, and not just one.

Does that sound like a good idea?

I drew out the scroll from the photo of the original, and went to Staples yesterday and had a couple 1/2 size copies made. It is much easier to draw 2X's size. The girl said she could PROBABLY do that. Really? I decided not to ask to have one of them flipped too. My old printer from 20 years ago could do both EASILY. Progress? I don't think so.
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Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

I have the back about done. I need to put two small studs on; above and below the sap pocket patch. Then I'm still thinking about a pad over the sound post area. Would a linen patch sanded smooth work?

The next step is the neck. When it is done, it can be glued together.

I've been thinking about finishing it before gluing together. I usually don't have the back and belly finished; but this time they are. It would be easier to concentrate on one area, and not everything. The ribs would be much easier.

I have a new ground system that seems good, but I need to put some varnish on it to be sure that it will stick. The varnish I did on the third try on the birds-eye maple violin is kind of chippy on the belly. I haven't had that problem before. I don't think I had oil or anything on it between coats. The back and sides seem fine.

This one needs a filler. I tried plaster of Paris before, and tried it again. I don't get the rave reviews. I can't get it to do anything, and when it does sort of fill, it stays white. Not good. There are clear water based fillers that I will try. One that was recommended is from LMI, but there is another at StewMac, and I have a gift certificate. I don't know if that one is as good as the product sold at LMI or not.

It should look cool when done. Not "pretty," but cool.
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Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

I put on my new 1/4" band saw blade, and cut out my neck block the other day. Then I marked out the sides of the neck and pegbox, and the first spiral around the scroll. I marked in the mortise, and put it in the vise. Using the 3/8" palm gouge from Flexcut that I use for the eye of scrolls too, and a 6mm Japanese chisel, I cut the mortise in. It took 15-20 minutes. I use the palm gouge to make a slot for the chisel to fit in, and keep digging until I get below the holes. I also make my bottom narrow, the sides are tapered. A good thing, because using the numbers from the Maggini poster, the outside walls of the pegbox are tapered too. Unfortunately, I forgot to mark the back of the nut! It's been a while since I made a scroll. So now I'll have to fix that. I clamped it on the bench with a wood screw, and sawed cuts so I could chisel out the sides. This is where it was yesterday afternoon.
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Yesterday, after Dinner, we eat about 1 PM, I started on the scroll. I cut the pegbox sides, and the first turn around. Starting with the small chisel to break away the saw cuts, and then with a 3/4" chisel to smooth it up. That took about an hour and a half.
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Then I marked the second turn, and cut them on both sides. Then I added some undercutting of the flanks, so it doesn't look so stiff. Then I marked the 3rd turn, because this one has an extra half turn on it. I only got the one side done before it was time for lunch at 5. I'll have to do the other side on the 3rd turn, and then go around evening things up. Then add the fluting around the outside, saw the taper on the neck, and work on the curve on the bottom.

Then it will be time to fit it to the ribcage.
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Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

Yesterday I got the scroll roughed in. It needs cleaning up now. Counting the cutting out, roughing the mortise, and scoring the sides for the chisel, it is an 8 hour/one day scroll. I guess you could do several of them, and finish them when you needed one. I use fingernail chisels for the fluting. I guess that's what you call them.
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They are sharp, and work well as scrapers now for cleaning it all up.

It is a little dog eared, but it should clean up fine. Even so, the scraping takes as much time as the roughing. That tests my patience. "Is is good enough yet?" And I have to use the little Flexcut gouge to make a patch where I roughed the mortise into the nut area.
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Bob Francis
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:28 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Bob Francis »

Beautiful

Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

I finished up the neck, and cut the mortise for it, and set the projection at about 28 or so. I decided to make it like a late baroque instrument. It is based on one from 1630, so we'll suppose a hundred years on or so, they needed to play higher up more often, and took it to the local luthier, and he trued the surface on the maple fingerboard, cut the lower surface to reduce the wedge by at least half, and rest the neck so the old bridge would still work. I bought some gut strings from to go with the set up. I didn't realize that a wound G was common from about 1730. We';; say that the guy wanted a silver G string besides. He was going throughly modern.

A gut D was standard until after WW1, and not real common until the aluminum wrapped ones started in the 50's. The steel e was next, and became popular during WW2 when get was hard to get.
Around the time of the aluminum D, wound A's finally came out, but were not popular until synthetic strings in the 70's. The 70's.
So gut strings are not that weird.

I filled the pores with Aqua Coat filler. They were humungous. It took 4 coats. Then I sealed, and put the first coat of varnish on. After I did that I put a coat of varnish thinned with some nice REAL turpentine from Georgia. I never used my varnish thinned with turpentine before, and I really like it. It is MUCH easier to just brush it on instead of spreading it with fingers. It flows nice, yet has some body to it. I'm never again using fingers.

I tried putting the varnish in patches with a stiff brush. It lost a bunch of bristles, and the surface got messed up from them. It is just a ground coat, so I'll smooth it up, and start using the brush. I need to make some pegs and a tailpiece.

I did forget to patch the nut area, and taper the linings. I was excited about finishing. I'll do those two things too.
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Barry Daniels
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Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Barry Daniels »

Finishing before final assembly has some advantages, no?
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Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

Well we're about to find out; I never did it before. Christian Banyon? a maker in Portugal does it. I thought it would be easier to get the ribs nice, and you don't have to handle the entire instrument when it's wet. Another is that you shouldn't have glue ghosts on there either. The heel bottleneck will be easier to smooth up, and glue squeeze out shouldn't be a problem. You can check the tuning I suppose, and scrape the imside, but I have to see if it needs it. Just checking the weights they are still 69, and 99 grams, and the belly seems to be still between low f# to high f on my guitar, and the back is low f to high e, so about the same as they were. I never did know what my finished weights and tap tones were because I glued them up thick.

Darrel Friesen
Posts: 216
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:48 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Darrel Friesen »

Looking great Ken!

Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

I'll see if I can get another coat of varnish on, or ready to go on today. The basement was down to 49 this morning, I try to avoid it in the winter. I plan stuff upstairs. It's sunny and 10 degrees today, so it's nice on the dining room table.

I have to figure out how to cut the pieces for the adjustable neck for the Staufer guitar. Then I can make that, get the head block made, and get the holes drilled for a dowel and a bolt. I know how to layout a violin or viola neck, but guitars are new to me.

I'm also designing another archtop. The guy I got the sketch for the Stauffer, made a Terz Stauffer too. It has a really pinched c bout. I drew the outline to fit spruce that is a little over 16", I still have to buy it. I have a 1X12 of figured cherry for the back sides and maybe the neck. I might make the neck from mahogany, but I don't have any. I made both outlines about 25% bigger, and put dead space between them; arch tops are fat boys. You end up with a natural cutaway. It is asymmetrical, and even the f hole on the bass side is 12% or so longer. I still have to figure out arching. I'm thinking of a classical style build on the neck; the sides are parallel, so it is a good fit. Do the ribs and glue the back and belly on.

So I'm not loafing around!

The blog on early guitars and lutes is schreinerslutesandguitars.blogspot
Lots of cool stuff.

Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

I got a coat of varnish on the other day. I smoothed the first coat up with some horsetail I harvested in the back part of my yard. It works really well on varnish. I use it with a little water. It still hasn't gained any weight. The belly is even a gram less! Outside in the garage with 4 -20 watt lights it doesn't get THAT warm when it is in the single digits. I'm fairly happy with it the way that it is. Not a guitar finish, but it isn't a guitar. I'll let that get good and hard. I still have to make a tailpiece, and a fingerboard and tailpiece for another, and pegs for both. It's kinda cold in the basement to be playing around on the lathe. Making pegs gets to be a Zen production kind of thing; it's best to keep at it when you get started.
The other violin is Paradox Walnut, and Alaska Yellow Cedar. The walnut is dark on one side, and yellow on the other. Under varnish you don't notice it as much. The ribs, cut from opposite sides of the top show it more. With the yellow/orange top, it has sort of the same look. The f holes are totally different though. That one also has a high arch on the back and a low arch on the belly, just the opposite of the Maggini.
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Ken Nagy
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:03 pm

Re: Violin build real time start to finish?

Post by Ken Nagy »

I have it glued together now. The body, sides, neck is a little over 300g. The air body mode? is a semi-tone lower than my lowest ones. There are some a note or even two higher. It is a bigger body, and the f holes are skinny, and the body is not real stiff. I checked with the guitar, and this one is at B, two others are C# and D. I don't know what is normal. The 5 string is at A, and so are the 2 violas. I don't know what's normal for that either. Maybe the violas are stiff?

I have the fingerboard ready to glue on, I set the projection to about 27.5mm. I read that on baroque set ups they like the strings low, so I don't want the projection too low. I might even try to get it to 28. If it doesn't move I can always plane the end of the fingerboard. The G is still a wound string, so I don't think the strings will really buzz at all.

Now I need a tailpiece, and pegs. I have a nice Voboam guitar plan that has several styles of baroque guitar pegs. I think I'll use something like one of them on this. I even remembered to put a label in. I ALWAYS forget that, even when I make one out.
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