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Documenting New Violin

September 2017

I'm taking photos on the way along, this time. The aim was to complete it by mid-August, but life intervened! I'm back in the workshop now and this violin is taking shape.

 Each maker evolves her/his method of working, so this is by no means an attempt to say 'this is how it should be done', just a peek into my own working life. Click on pictures to enlarge them.

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Using a seleton mould and following a reliable Nicolas Lupot template, I have attached spruce blocks and will shape them to take the ribs.

The first cuts with very sharp in-cannel gouge, and I'm relieved to find that the grain is true, making the fine carving of the blocks a simple task. A wobbly left-handed close-up as I carve the corner block while holding the work against the edge of the long-suffering bench.  I have drawn the violin's 'internal outline' (?) onto graph paper as a guide to shaping the blocks and rib wood (maple, thinned to approx 1mm)
The C-ribs are steam-bent to fit , and when dry they are glued and clamped to the blocks. Using a skeleton mould makes this process SO much easier! Upper and lower ribs now in place. Bending to fit the pencil line is not so hard as it may seem, but you will see 4 helpful guide screws in the C bouts.  Linings (2mm spruce) are set into the blocks (one side is already glued and clamped) and will form the 'glueing platform' when assembling the violin. The finished rib set, which will remain on the mould in the meantime and become the template for cutting the violin top (spruce) and back (maple)
Top plate,centre joined and planed flat. A line is scribed round the ribs, then a second line drawn using a small washer for (approx) 2mm overhang.  I use a coping saw for this - the aim is to cut as closely as possible to the outer pencil line, but to leave plenty of spare at the corners!  I've carved the edge height down to 6mm and done some rough arching - this is a fine piece of spruce and the violin will sound good (it does already!) The edge must be perfectly square, and you will see the 4mm height line already marked (C-bouts and corner area 4.5mm) Cue more carving. 
I have shaped the corners and cut the first purfling channel (this instrument will have double purfling, just because). To be continued.... This shows the 2nd row in progress, corners and Cs glued in and the scarf joins looking a bit random. Having tried the one-piece method I prefer this way, it gives a little wiggle-room - and enables me to focus on the mitres. I will now put the top plate to one side and bring the back to a similar stage before working on the fine arching of both. First, make a perfect centre join, good enough to last a few hundred years. Easier said than done, but a very sharp plane blade is essential, and a steady nerve when glueing.

This set of photos is big enough, I think. More very soon, in my next article. It feels very good to be making progress again!

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