Sunday, December 30, 2007


Well, I *thought* I was going to precut the soundpost today, but when I picked up the back of the fiddle, I discovered that it was a bit lumpy on the inside. I thought that I'd finished that. So I scraped and sanded and tried to plane--for some reason my best violin plane was biting of chunks--and I scraped and sanded some more, but the lumps didn't want to go away. Finally I tried riffler files, and the problem was solved in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, I was too tired and frustrated to continue, so I quit for the night.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The wood still hasn't shown up. I know these guys (ILS) are slow, but I'm starting to get a little worried. I mean, they did cash my check.

In the meanwhile, I glued the ribs to the belly of the other violin. I'm a bit concerned about the joint, since the ribs are made of three plys of birdseye maple veneer, and it's hard to get a smooth, flat edge to attach the belly to, but it seems to be okay. Then I fitted the neck to the body. I really took my time here, so it's a good fit. As it turned out, when I measured the height of the fingerboard from the belly, it was 2 cm on the first try! I must be doing something right! I glued the neck on last night, and this morning it was solid as a rock, so I trimmed off the excess of the neck, making it even with the end block.

I've decided that I need a better layout process, because I found that when I fit the back to the ribs, there's a gap between the rib at the centerbout and the back. The rib curves in too far. I think if I had a way to keep the rib-and-corner-blocks assembly from changing shape while I model the back and the belly, the plates would match up better when I get to this point. Maybe if I just change the order of doing things and lay out the back and belly at the same time by tracing around the ribs, I'd get a better fit. Anyway, I inlaid a piece of wood left over from cutting out the back and shaped it so that the rib came down on it perfectly, leveled it, and it'll be fine, although the joint may be visible on close inspection.

I'll probably pre-cut the soundpost later tonight.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bass Bar and F Holes

In the last couple of days I finished the bass bar and started cutting out the F-holes. The interesting part is that I went with my wife to a music store and just sat out back with my travelling kit and got ready to lay out the F-holes. But when I opened the kit, the F-hole template was missing. "Great," I thought, "Now what am I going to do for the next hour while she shops?" Then I remembered that the music store has some fine violins on display, so I decided to go in and draw the F-holes freehand, using one of their violins as a model. As I was doing that, one of the employees came over and seeing what I was up to, he had a better idea. We took a violin out of the case (100 years old, but I can't remember who made it) and used a pencil and paper to do a "tomb rubbing" of one of the F-holes. That didn't work too well, but we hit upon the idea of placing cellophane tape over the hole and rubbing the pattern onto that. It worked just fine, but we incurred the wrath of another staff member who was afraid that we might damage the finish with the tape. Fortunately, we did no damage, and I cut out the pattern from a xerox of the rubbing, laid out the F-holes and started cutting. I'm almost finished, but it's bedtime.

Manana, y'all.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hello World!

Hello Everybody,

I'm starting this blog to document the building of a violin. It's actually my third violin (second made from scratch). As soon as the next batch of wood arrives, I'll start posting pictures and descriptions of what I'm doing. You get to be present at the creation, in on the workings--inner and outer--and the finished product will be for sale at the end. How's that sound?

My fellow luthiers are welcome to chime in with suggestions, which of course I may ignore or honor.

In my next post I'll try to let you in on some of what I've done so far.

Patrick Callanan