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Posts posted by arglebargle

  1. 12 hours ago, Don Noon said:

    That's nice... but it needs a motor:)

    Here are a couple of disc sander/grinders I put together.

    The most recent one uses the motor, disc, switch, and miter hardware from a cheapo Harbor Freight belt/disc sander.  The discs are inexpensive diamond discs, held on with magnets.  While I primarily made this to sharpen carbide lathe tools (which it does fantastically), I have also been finding it very useful for other things as well. (That's my peg lathe in the background).


    This second one I made some time ago, using an ancient Bodine gearmotor (low RPM) that I accumulated from who-knows-where in prehistoric times.  The disc plate I had to fabricate myself, and uses stick-on sanding discs.  It is primarily for soundposts.. the angle can be set to a precise angle, and the sled traveles in a groove at a very slight angle to the disc, so the length can be adjusted very precisely.  I also use it to trim saddle ends, setting the angle to zero


    All that to fit a sound post? Obviously not, but the hand cranked disk is another level of tool. I don't know if you have ever used an Alberti sander (or Woodlands awesome knockoff) but they are sublime. 

  2. On 12/2/2020 at 3:20 PM, David Burgess said:

     I've been using a couple of easily repositionable holding fixtures for about 40 years now. 360 degrees rotation on two axis, plus 90 degrees on a third. They've gotten pretty pricey now, but at this point in my career, I have absolutely no doubt that they have paid for themselves many times over.



    Those look pretty nice. Of course, we all know what I really need is a monsterball vise. Unfortunately, I just don't have the room. Someday.

  3. 9 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:


    You mention that the shape of the wedges is still rough which may be giving you trouble as unless the flat sides are actually flat it is hard not to get a twist in the joint. 

    Yes! The underside (inside) should be dead flat and the planning surface should be totally square to it all the way along the surface. In addition, the top (outside) should have a flat area also square to the planning surface. I take my plates down to about 5mm of my desired height. I also cut out the excess wood from the upper and lower bouts at the corners of the plate and the c bout before I begin joining them. I clamp the joint using my bench vise and dogs at the c bout cut away, then bar clamps at either end. The plates are upside down on the bench (the top facing down).

    Great info in the links above.

  4. My two cents:

    If you are asking yourself "should I pursue a career in violin making" then the answer is no. There is no "should I" in this field. This is something that you will either chase down until you succeed or you will fail. So this has to be something you are absolutely committed to, or don't bother. It's the same as asking "Should I be an artist?" You are an artist because you have to be, and if success follows, so be it.

    A lot of people come to violin making latter in life, after a fruitful life in another field, and all the monetary comforts that provides. These people are not you. It's not that they don't have knowledge and insight, but that they have comfort and safety as they make violins. You are 19. If you choose to pursue this it will all be on you. Making a living as a classical musician is hard. Making a living as a classical instrument maker is much harder. You already know you have the skills to do the former, do you have the stamina (not skill) to do the latter? The skills you can learn. The hard part is the work, the failures, the further work, the additional failures, the small success, and then some more failures. And in the meantime, you have to eat and keep a roof over your head. You will not graduate from violin making school as a violin maker earning a living ONLY making new instruments. I'm sure that there are exceptions out there, but vanishingly few. What will you do to compensate? 

    In 1996 a light went on over my head and I decided to pursue this path. I did so with an ignorant tenacity that only the truly stupid possess. Here I am in 2020, earning a living, but only by (happily) having to keep a rental fleet, a repair business, selling new instruments, and selling my own. And any other f**king thing I can do to keep the doors open. Happily. As obscure and unknown (and redundant) as I might be, I still consider myself a success in this business.
    So Santagiuliana, of course you should become a violin maker, but only because there is no other choice. Good luck.


  5. 16 hours ago, Dennis J said:


    I get the impression that some makers think it's a crime to even use arching templates

    Not me. As I said, many talented makers use them. I believe M. Darnton is among them, and he is pretty firm about their usefulness. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)

    It's just not a method I find useful or enjoyable. 

  6. My issue with arching templates, and templates in general, is that one tends to work towards the template rather than the piece. This can be a good, even necessary, thing in the process of making. I think a workable mold and rib structure is dependent on an accurate template. I need my scroll templates to set me on the right path, but after a certain point, I don't. Do I need a template for the pegbox? No, but it saves me time not having to lay-out the thing for every instrument.
    I think arching is of such a fundamental importance to an instrument that I would not trust it to a set of templates. The arching is where the woodworking skill, intuition, and artistry all come together. It is the best/most fun part of violin making. The loosest, most fuck- it part. And as such requires the most skill to execute well. When we make an instrument we are sculptors and wood carvers, not carpenters. We should keep that in mind.
    That being said, there are a lot of very fine makers that use arching templates, and I say more power to them. It's just not for me.

  7. 2 minutes ago, TJ Fuss said:

    "Japanned" is the name used for the black ashphaltum finish typical on older handplanes like Stanley. It's not a drying paint, but more of a thermoset finish. It was a very tough, durable finish that "imitated" Japanese lacquer thus "Japanning" or "Japanned".



  8. 3 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:


    Is most of the damage 400 yr old instruments incurred due to one or a few early undocumented owners who used it as a shovel to plant potatoes?  Lots of very interesting statistical questions lurking there

    It is my understanding that most of the varnish effects on early instruments, Cremonese in particular, occurred in the first couple of decades of their life. This is a reflection of the nature of the varnish (soft at first) and the utility of the instrument (they were sold and played as soon as they were made) and the kinds of cases available back then. 

  9. Here are my roughing gouges. All are socket gouges bought on ebay, cleaned up, and fit and epoxied to the handle, then reinforced with cord and epoxy. The handles are pre-fab railing components from big box hardware, a few bucks each. The one on the left in my go to tool. Got me through several cellos. They are straighter than the pictures make them look.

    Keep in mind, a sturdy, immovable bench is just as important as the gouge.


  10. Do you want to simulate varnish wear, or just dirt? No shading?

    For dirt I use various oil paints, straight from the tube, rubbed onto the area, then wiped off with a sheet of paper. (Ordinary printer paper) This allows the color to get into any nooks and crannies and stay there while being removed from the surface. Of course, the surface that you are starting with will determine what you can and can't do. A perfect, smooth, glass-like finish won't take the oil, as there are no nooks to fill, but I don't like that look anyway.