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Jose Catoira

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  1. I used to be worried about my time doing a process and I was very mistaken doing so. To my standard these days, and definitely not the standard I want to be at yet, I take 2 days for a violin or viola scroll. This includes selecting the wood, planing it, carving the scroll, hollowing pegbox, making fingerboard, making top nut, reinforcing the heel, shaping the neck and having it ready to go into the body. 95% of the neck work done. Did two at a time last week and it definitely shortened the times. It is a lot quicker if you work in batches. My two cents worth.
  2. I have just finished building a UV Box and went down the usual route of fluorescent tubes and a mix of Actinic/UVC lamps for curing varnish and tanning wood that I have been happy with in the past. My question: Is someone familiar with the new LED uv strips and are there wavelengths to suit our needs?
  3. Hey guys, I happened to have done a little work at both shops you are talking about and can garantee that both places have a standard of work that is beyond excellency. When I was there some 5 years ago, there was a shop in town with a less desirable standard and I would reccomend you stick with one of the two above. J
  4. One of my best varnish batches ever cooked was a colopophy-mastic/linseed oil in a proportion of 1 resin to 1.75 oil, no solvent added. I made a HUGE batch and I am running low now after 5 years of using it. The stuff is easy to apply the way Magister varnishes were applied and all that has been said above about fatty varnishes is true in this one, doesn't like polishing at all, I just leave it as it is in the last coat. I use other varnishes of 1 resin to 0.8 oil as well, and on these I do add turpentine while cooking. They are easier to put on in thin coats like P.Belin says and polish very well. They are good for antiquing, they chip out well. (hahhaa, they fail misserably in fact). When I have made the same ratio of heavily cooked down colophony and oil without solvent the result is very hard and sticky and doesn't suit my aplication method, so I don't really experiment with them that much.
  5. In my limited experience the problem with white woods is always the blueing that can happen if not properly stack when freshly cut. I bought a log of rather nice poplar last year which I cut for one piece cellos backs. Looking thourgh them last week I noticed how some of them have blued, I guess it is a fungus. Not that I am too worried as I have used stuf with that kind of blueing before and it is pretty much invisible under varnish. I would be very interested to learn what people do because felling season is coming up and I have a rather sexy maple tree selected and another poplar....
  6. I will do two week of violinmaking in Oberlin (phone will be switched off), catch up with Joe over there and then, go fishing for a whole week when I come back home. That is my plan.
  7. Catnip, I have been working on those 5 string set ups quite a lot recently. My nut spacing is 19.5mm C to E, nut width 24.75 ( just a pinch under 25mm), had them tried by a couple of players with very different hands and they both had nothing to say about the string spacing. They just played away happily. J
  8. Cherry and plum can be used for viol backs, sides and necks. Just had a beech back and neck cello in the shop and it and sounded superb. Carves like a dream.
  9. Jose Catoira


    FredN, I had Juliet Barker as my heroin for roughing out cello backs by hand at age 80. We all should watch and learn from you. Best J
  10. Jose Catoira


    what are you using the router plane for, FredN ? I am curious about that.
  11. Sorry to say this but the art shop just 10 metres away from my workshop was selling the last stocks of the "german" chalk at 70 cents of euros per bundle of 20 sticks. I got myself a lifetime supply of the stuff. What a life...
  12. I use spanish cedar for the top plug and maple for both the frog and the spreader wedge. My top plugs can never be reused. The way they are fitted, they can only be chopped out and that is very easily because of the wood choice. It takes me about 3 minutes to make a perfect fitting new one, anyway. A maple spreader wedge I find gives me the consistency I want for a good fit and to control the amount of pressure that goes on the ferrule. Poplar, lime or basswood tend to compress and I cannot control how much. It is a matter of what one gets used to, I guess. I must confess I don't have that much experience doing bow rehairs, I have done about 1000 of them and that is nowhere near what these guys above have done. Only my two pence worth. J
  13. I may chip in my little experience in the subject after teaching at Cambridge Violin Makers for the last 6 years. The problem I see in this thread is that we are not focusing on what the goal is in going to those workshops. A 1 or 2 week long workshop for amateurs is not the same as a 1 or 2 week long workshop for professional develpment. In Cambridge we hand over to pupils ready made moulds with blocks glued on ready for chopping, plates already jointed and scroll blocks planed up and sawn out. The goal is to make a violin with the help of the teachers and make the best out of the experience. The focus is on producing a good enough fiddle, not to develope the skills to become a professional. Eventually we do teach some repeating students how to joint plates or how to make a set of templates and mould if they as, but that is not the idea of the workshops. If one goes to a professional development workshop, the game changes completely. To start, the pupil is already aware of what his particular goal is (I am flying my little spanish backside to Oberlin this summer just to watch Stefan varnish and pest some people about certain details of archings. My apologies to those...)Most of the time is it also up the the participant to make the most of the time in the shop. Everyone going to such places is expected to have the tool skills pretty well grounded before aplying. Violin making schools are a very good, not the only though, place to start a career in violin making. They are the place to learn the basic skills and the improve them over the time spent at school. My two pence worth... J
  14. This is what I do word by word. The "flunky" being my little brother...
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