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Everything posted by polkat

  1. Yep, I understand the root angle importance. In fact, it's what I'm now trying to determine. However, a 137mm neck, with a 2mm overhang and ribs 1.2mm thick would result in an average depth of about 3.8mm in the block itself. Doesn't seem too deep to me. But yes, I'll check out those posts.
  2. Yea, I mentioned 87 degrees in my second post. 83.5 then makes sense, but sounds like a lot compaired to 87. But I'm also hearing just to set the angle with a simple inclination jig and adjust from there. But if it measures off, then it means reshaping either the mortise back or the neck heel, so I assume 6.4 can be a good starting point. I think I have enough for now. Thanks all!
  3. It's polkat with a k, based on an old college nickname, but that's okay! Thanks guys! Making more sense to me now. Doc, when you say 6.5 degrees, you are of course referring to the angle from the very back of the root (that butts into the back of the mortise) to the fingerboard surface (I'm a bit shy of the actual terms). Right? [PS: I can't seem to insert images into the text. There's a window for it that pops up a tiny box, but it doesn't make sense!] angle.bmp
  4. Well, give me a sec to get behind something before people start throwing stuff at me. I learned fiddle making from my Grandfather, who made stringed instruments in the deep backwoods Blue Ridge mountain style (which is basically do whatever works--think fiddles from the old Foxfire books). So I apologize if this is poorly explained or simply sounds strange. For cutting the mortise, he would measure the top of a finished neck (with the nut but sans fingerboard) from the back of the nut out 130mm and make a mark where the plate edge would touch. We used inches back then, but I’ll use millimeters here so it hopefully makes more sense. The 130mm mark represented where the neck met the front edge of the top plate. Anything left over was how deep the mortise was. In other words, if the full length of the neck (back of nut to the back end of the neck) was, say 137mm, then the neck sat 7mm into the mortise (from the edge of the plate to the back of the mortise). So if the overhang was, say 2mm, the neck would sit in past the outside surface of the ribs about 5mm (including rib thickness). Make sense? See attached drawing. Further, if the neck was made exactly to standard dimensions, with the button surface 90 degrees to the end (heel back), and heel back to fingerboard surface about 87 degrees, and with the top block properly angled to the violin body, then the mortise could be cut to a uniform depth overall while still maintaining the proper angle of neck to body. But this would sometimes be adjusted depending on the arch height. I raised this question as seeing the different mortises I explained above got me to wondering if I’ve been doing it wrong. No doubt I’m wrong about some of this (me and my country ways!). Or am I? Mortise.bmp
  5. How deep are you folks cutting the neck mortise into the top block on new violins (or top block replacements)? I have seen them anywhere from 3mm deep to 7mm (7mm seems rather excessive to me). Also, I have seen a few that were deeper at the bottom of the block, which I guess was a way to get more neck angle. Mostly what I see is about 3 or 4mm throughout the cut. Is that about average? Thanks!
  6. Does anyone offer rib material that is precut and thicknessed and just needs bending? I was thinking maybe of maple veneer or slmething along that line. Ideas? Thanks!
  7. Which is exactly what I ended up doing. It's fairly well aligned. How's it going Capt? Haven't spoken in a while. Still unemployed, which is why most of my tools are gone now, so I have to do stuff by jimy rigging. Write when you can and let me know what you've been doing. polkat out.
  8. Yea, my fault. I didn't bother with the mold as I didn't expect the plate to seperate like it did. Still can't find those clamps so I'll try experimenting. Thanks all!!
  9. OP here. Well, I went ahead and did the standard patch. It was my first, and while it won't win any beauty contests, it seems quite functional. However, while doing the job, the plate split in half at the seam. No glue evidence at the edges, so I'm guessing it was under glued or glued with weak glue. The edges are very clean. I have never reglued the seam of a fully carved plate before. Any advice on a jig of some kind to hold the plate halves in registration while regluing?? Thanks!
  10. Can't find those clamps dang it! So, let me ask this; as I said, this fiddle is a cheapo, and my primary interest in it is as a backup instrument in the event something happens to my good one(s). I play as well as work on them. I got the crack glued up today with a jimmy rigged setup. It closed up okay, but I would never trust that alone. While I know this might sound bad, I'm thinking about just gluing in a flat piece of maple (bent of course to the curvature of the plate in that area), perhaps a piece of old rib, sort of like a big cleat, but without counter sinking it into the plate, other then smoothing the edges. This plate is only about 3-1/2 to 4mm thick. Yea, a hack job, but would it work?
  11. Well, over the years I've done a lot of front plate crack repairs, and a few slightly open back seam repairs, but (oddly) for the first time I'm looking at a back with a sound post crack. Not a valuable instrument and it belongs to me, so I'm not worried about trying to fix it. The crack is about 3" long and the post sat right in the middle of it. It is slightly open on top, and closed (but visable) inside. I figure on doing a post patch, but want to get the crack closed before working on the patch. Gently bending the plate to see if I can close the crack on top, it just barely doesn't quite get there. I can't find my curved plate clamp. Anyone have any suggestions about approaching this?
  12. Sarconi (can never remember how to spell that) thought he saw eggwhite in Strads ground/sealer. I've used just vernice bianca on the raw wood (inside and out) with oil varnish over it for some years now. Always liked the resulting look and tone.
  13. Will be interesting to hear responses to this. There are two schools of thought on this; one that spring is a good thing and the other that spring is not necessary. The shape of the bar has an effect as well when thinking about this. I personally don't use any spring.
  14. fiddlewallop said " I was curious to see if my selection of the violin with the best tone matches other's selections." It won't surprise anyone here if I say Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, so is sound in the ear of the beholder. What is tin to one may be gold to another...and so on. Some scientists think that we all see colors differently. If that is true (and I don't know) then it seems obvious that we all hear sound somewhat differently. I personally believe that we all see and hear very closely to each other, so perhaps Fellow's violin sounds great to him, while others might not be interested. Training of the ear to determine good tone should be mandatory to a luthier. No?
  15. I have also used vernice bianca inside my instruments (both violins and mandolins), and still do. Sitting here trying to think of a reason, I can only say I've always like the resulting sound, which seems warmer to me.
  16. Much like COB3's story above, I made my first violin (if you could call it that) with liquid hide glue. I was quite proud of it and hung it on the wall of my shop. That same summer we had days nearly 110 degree temps, and on the first of those days, I watched that violin literally fall in pieces off the wall! The biggest problem with liquid hide glue is that it creeps. High temps can cause this (and usually do) but string tension can be a problem as well. Secondly, it has a limited shelf life unlike true hide glue grains, which can theoretically last forever. I think most beginning luthiers try liquid hide glue in hopes of avoiding the preceived confusion of using regular hot glue. That's why people ask about it. Liquid hide glue is a mistake in luthery.
  17. polkat


    I use sandpaper all the time, even on plates. I try to finish with 1500 (or even 2000 when I can find it), but then I learned violin making in the mountains of VA so what can I say? I finish with a fine hair brush with a small vacuum tube attached. Works nicely. Wrong to use it? Probably, but then no one has ever accused me of using it after looking at my fiddles.
  18. A little tip on these Radio Shack elements; they can be cut down in size without effecting how well they work (as long as you don't cut into the soldering pads). I recently cut one down to about half size and installed it inside a bridge. I had to deal with the wire hanging out the bottom, but it sounds great when run through an equalizer (otherwise the sound is tinny without bass).
  19. I've never thought about this too much, but are willow and spruce the primary woods for blocks and linings? And what is the proper grain orientation for these parts? Thanks!
  20. That's interesting. I've seem figured maple veneer in a local hardwood shop. It was 1.5mm thick and I got to wondering if it might be directly used for ribs. Anyone done this?
  21. polkat

    Rubus violins

    From what I've read, the original instruments (I believe they were called Regat Rubus) were made in St. Petersburg, Russia in the ninteenth century. The plates had no overhang per say, and were rolled flush to the ribs. The edges of the corners rounded outward between the plates, and if I recall correctly, there was a label inside with instructions on how to remove the top. The varnish is usually quite dark. The name was the actual makers name; Regat (SP?) sort of a Russian version of Richard, but a group of makers were involved. The company disappeared and surfaced again in Germany making factory versions. I'm not sure if it was the same people, but the shape was roughly the same. A few of them apparently had a reversed scroll (sort of like the Chanot scrolls) but I have never seen one like that. I tried one in a fiddle shop one time, and it was the loudest violin I have ever played. The tone was better then I expected and it played easily. I liked it, but could see problems mounting a shoulder rest because of the edges.
  22. Original poster here. I guess I asked the original question wrongly, but it was about identifying wood. I have built my instruments using store bought woods sold specifically for the purpose. Beyond that I don't have great ability to identify woods too well. If one were to come across a random pile of lumber, furniture pieces, heh, maybe even a barn, what's the best way to identify the wood? Are there websites or other references showing examples of cut woods and what they are? Thanks!
  23. I've often read how luthiers have found great maple or spruce in old furniture, old buildings, even the walls of old barns. Although this may sound like an uneducated question (and, well..it is), how does one identify pre-cut woods (spruce? maple?) as usable tonewoods? Or maybe the question is just how to identify pre-cut wood species in general?
  24. I've read that toward the end of his career Stradivari began making flatter plates (flatter then his previous plates-particularly top plates) in an effort to improve power from the instruments. The Messiah was apparently one of these. Did this mod have any negative effect on tone, and does anyone know the average height of his arches (from glue surface to top of arch) during this period?
  25. I've seen some tops made from redwood, but apparently the sound was questionable. Check out this post.... http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=266898
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