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Jose Catoira

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Everything posted by Jose Catoira

  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...
  15. Connor, I use very little spike oil, mostly I use it to grind red rosinate in order to incorporate it with the varnish, so it is a tiny bit. Enough for the job of grinding and giving a little thinning effect. Dries out nicely but I must say, I always leave my fiddles in the light box for a little while to evaporate solvents before I turn ON the lights. J
  16. Guy, I normally cook the rosin until I get bored at under 200C and use no lime at all and is the varnish I have used for years now with no problems other than the operator applying it, this was the first time I used lime. Will try the 1% approach. With my usual varnish I use about 20% of the oil content in turpentine and is fine for padding. Diluting is easy with a pinch of spike oil if I need brushing. I'll bring some little jars of different ones to Oberlin and we could have a talk about it. You add the lime and then cook for colour or the other way around? Cheers Jose P.S. "jackass style" is the story of my life...
  17. Norton, The book doesn't really explain how the glue/alum ground is done. I had a friend over from England last summer that does it and she was nice to show me the way. I believe it is a method taught by one the teachers at Newark, one teacher that was not there when I was a student years ago. The method goes as follows: 1-Make your hide glue as you normally would for normal woodwork 2.Make a saturated solution of alum in water. 3-Drop by drop and stirring constantly, add alum solution into your glue until the mix goes gooey. This is something I look at and actually looks like a flem. Sorry for being bold but can't find a better way to explain. 4-Add as much water as you have mix glue/alum so you have twice the amount. Ready to go. I have used it to seal spruce and does the job really nice. My favourite is casein but it is worth trying. Hope it helps. Jose
  18. I have been reading over some pages in that book and found a rosin varnish recipe. Some minor adjustments had to be made due for material availability. It calls for "bodied linseed oil" and the closest I had in my cabinet was "stand oil" . My colophony was already cooked down a bit I limed the colophony with 5% calcium hidroxide. The stuff did not want to mix in. After 1 hour of painfull stirring the lime was still all over in white blobs. So I went ahead "jackass style" and made the varnish. Brought the rosin up to 300C and mixed in half the oil, back up to 300 and mixed in the second half. Then I cooked until the bead was long when pulling. Added some turpentine when cooked, about 50% the weight of the colophony. Now, the varnish is thick. So thick it is unusable. So I added more turpentine, like the same amount as the varnish. It is usable now. A test piece is in the light box right now, once the turpentine evaporates the varnish is already touch dry. It is interesting, I have never had this results before. Comments?
  19. I am just making a 15 5-8" viola, second one I make with poplar from a tree a bought some years back. It takes a bit of getting used to the different feel under the tool, arches and graduation also have to be thought of differently, the first one was a succesful instrument, I am hoping the second one will be as nice. Looks superb under varnish.
  20. Helen has done a magnificent job of this project. I had the pleasure of visiting her in Manchester and look through all of the stuff with her, discussing some of the materials and what they could have been used for. She was very kind to allow me to do so. There is a huge amount to be learnt only from the list of contents, it will open endless doors for curious minds to experiment and to find their own ways. My hat off to her in this brave undetaking.
  21. I own about 100 gouges and just got some more off of eBay. To make a fiddle I use 6, and one of them is getting less and less use as I make more and more. Making gouges is not all that difficult but you need to make the swage to form them and like David said above, if fiddlemaking is the goal, you may want to use your time more wisely. J
  22. Rubén: "Corner mitres" es la manera en que se juntan los filetes en los rincones. Ln inglete a 45º más o menos. "Scroll throat" es la parte más estrecha de la voluta, donde el clavijero y la voluta se juntan. Just a little help here with the English part of the forum, guys. Cheers
  23. I visited Seattle and David van Zandt's shop about 10 years ago. Absolutely superb guy to talk to. Couldn`t be any more pleasant. Great part of the world, wouldn't mind moving there.
  24. I was trained to do tip to frog years back, using the bending stick before doing the know on the frog end. To be honest I never quite understood its use. Nowadays all my rehairs are done frog to tip. It takes me a little longer to do them but I have better control of little details that after many rehairs, find make all the difference in the quality and functionality. Also, since I want to use as much of the hair from the bottom end (the one closest to the skin) as possible, doing frog to tip allows me to just cut off waste at the tip. I am stupidly anal about not having crossing hairs in my ribbon.
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