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Prepare for a laugh...

Tim McTigue


It's amazing sometimes how naive one can be, even as an adult. My desire to make a violin goes back quite a ways, and in 1995 I was sufficiently far along that I began a journal. Looking back at it gives me a chuckle - it shows just how little I knew then. Of course, it was "only" another 12 years before I actually did get started on the project, and what I've found out in the past year really puts this old journal to shame. Anyway, I thought I'd share a portion of my entry for October 4, 1995, just for grins...

My goal, then, clearly stated, is this: to make the best violin I possibly can, as inexpensively as possible, using the tools and techniques of 100 years ago, as nearly as possible. Where the cost of a tool places it out of reach, I will find the best replacement for it, or find a way to do without it, hopefully without sacrificing too much in the way of fineness or quality of the workmanship. If the cost of high quality wood is prohibitive, I will probably use wood of lesser quality, in the hope that the instrument will at least be of average quality and provide me with a full “practice run” at making a fine violin, since the alternative would be to put off the project until a later time, which might mean years would pass before I would be ready, or have the opportunity, to attempt it. I will probably only be able to work on it during the weekends, and even then only part of each weekend, since family duties and duties around the house will also need attending to. My best estimate of the time needed is as follows:

Bending the ribs: 5-6 hours

Fitting ribs to blocks: 2-5 hours

Fitting linings to ribs: 2-5 hours

Making the back or belly: 10-20 hours (each)

Making the neck & scroll: 5-10 hours

Therefore, within four to eight weeks after I start the project itself, I expect I will have one of two things; a violin mostly finished, or something closely resembling one, and a much higher appreciation of the art of violin making.

Oh, brother! :rolleyes: Anyway, during the time since then, I did spend some time gathering tools, and the project was never very far from my mind. For instance, when I'd get some money for my birthday or something, I would invest in various things... a Delta scroll saw, a set of scrapers, a dial indicator from which I made my thickness caliper, etc. Finally, last year I decided to give it a go...


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