The main thing I'm focusing on is an Amati model I'm doing on commission. It's a new model for me, and it's fun working with new lines and shapes and thinking ahead about what the player might like.
|Aden and her maple|
I decided it would be helpful to Aden if I had an instrument going alongside hers that I could use for demonstration, so I'm also making a Lee model that I intend to use as my next competition instrument when the VSA meets in fall of 2016.
Aden's and the competition violin are moving along at a slow pace, but that's fine. My real energy is going into the Amati model and that's coming together very well. Want to see?
The first real step is the "rib assembly."
Back in the summer I made my new template and form, split my blocks out of willow, and got them glued.
|You use the template to trace on the final shapes of the blocks|
Cutting is done against an arching table, which is essentially a giant bench hook. I check that the blocks are flat and square using a square and a flat marble slab.
The ribs (sides) are made from strips of maple planed and scraped down to a thickness of 1.1mm, then cut and planed down to different lengths and widths based on where they will go. Linings are a structural element inside a violin that provide greater gluing surface for the plates (top and back), and those are prepped to a thickness of 1.8mm, 7mm wide, and assorted lengths. (Linings are generally made from spruce or willow--something light.)
|Form, rib stock, prepped linings|
|Final rib thicknessing is done with a cabinet scraper|
|Rib stock, prepped and ready to bend|
Violins are held together with hide glue, which has to be cooked to 140 degrees. I have a special glue pot for it at home, but I don't think it actually works as well as the makeshift glue pot I made for myself at work. This glue pot will not overheat my glue, but supposedly you are expected to cook the glue directly in the metal pot, which doesn't quite work because there is no cover, so the glue always dries out on top. I end up putting water in the pot and using that to heat up my glue in a baby food jar, but it's hard to get it hot enough this way. (Maybe this pot works better in a school situation where you are making a ton of glue, but I never use more than a tablespoon of dried glue at a time, so I wonder if that's the issue.)
Once the C-bout ribs are glued and dry you shape the remaining sides of the blocks and bend ribs for the upper and lower bouts and glue those in place.
For the most part all the rib work went just fine, but I did have to prep some extra stock to replace some broken ribs. I chose maple that looked like a good match for the back I'm using, and that back has interesting flame. Unfortunately, interesting flame tends to break and tear in interesting ways.
|Ouch! Broken rib.|
Once all the ribs are dry and the clamps are off you plane the ribs and check them for flatness against the marble. The back is simply planed flat, and the top side is planed flat and to a taper (about 30.5mm at the upper end to 31.75mm at the lower).
When the linings are ready and fitted they are glued in using a gabillion clamps. I love these little clamps. They are small C-clamps with a knob instead of a swing arm so you can line them up very close together. The ones I used back in school were metal and heavy. These clamps are a sturdy plastic and much lighter. I found them at a local hobby store and asked where I could buy them in bulk since I wanted enough to do several instruments at once, and it turned out I had to get them directly from the company in New Zealand with a minimum order of 1000! I found another builder who was willing to split the order with me, so I have 500 (and I love them all).
Once the linings are dry they are planed down level with the ribs and shaped.
The final step on the rib assembly is to cut the finished lengths on the corners, which takes much longer than you imagine.
The funny thing about the rib assembly in general is I always have amnesia about how long it takes. Somehow in my mind after the ribs are glued I feel as if I'm pretty much done, and then I remember, "Oh yeah...planing, adjustments, taper, lining notches, linings bent, fitted, glued, planed, shaped, and then @!#%$^ corners." (Corners are not anyone's favorite part.)
But the rib assembly is done! A little ahead of schedule, in fact. I've already gotten started on the plates and scroll. (That's where the fun is! More pictures as those get further along.)