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nathan slobodkin

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About nathan slobodkin

  • Birthday 08/17/1954

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    Bangor ME USA
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    Violin and cello maker, repair ,restoration and dealer. Amateur forester

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  1. Michael I just started thread on this topic a just few weeks ago. I had the same problem compounded by the fact that I was only loosening the top bout for a projection correction so no access from the bottom and no possibility of removing and replacing any splinters. I ended up using two knives working one under the other and tapping the handles with a small hammer. If it's not hide glue however I have no idea.
  2. Nope. You can plane off as much stock as needed. irregular teeth are faster in removing stock and since the teeth resist tearing you can sharpen at normal angles.
  3. For a first violin this looks very good. I did not mean to be overly critical and I am sure this corner will look fine under varnish. Unless sanded or scraped over and over almost all instruments will have tool marks and construction artifacts. Most will have small mistakes as well. The line between them is very thin but none the less discernible to the experienced and educated eye.
  4. Nope, that IS a mistake as are the shaky lines of the outline of the corner (great photo by the way) Nothing serious but not what we have been talking about. Had the picture shown a scribe line from the marker and a neat purfling miter which deviated from the line I would say it was an interesting construction artifact.
  5. Tool marks are NOT mistakes! If you dig the tool in and tear out grain that is a mistake made by improper or unskilled tool use. If you elect to leave your ribs an accurate and consistent thickness despite faint lines from a plane that is not a mistake. A plane is a far more efficient way of creating an accurate surface than a scraper and removing all the marks would likely result in a less accurate thickness unless one wants to spend all day checking the thickness with a caliper and scraping a little here and there to get down to size. If you use your large tools to cut to the line, surface or shape that you want and then scrape only to remove the tool marks which look bad you are left with an accurate and intentional surface with occasional and non objectionable marks which look good. If you stop your tools far enough away from the final line to fiddle and fuss down to the line leaving no trace of the carving you wind up with a sterile, boring instrument which might as well have been done with a CNC. As I said before there certainly are and were makers whose originality in design and fluidity of carving and smoothing resulted in great instruments with few signs of the process in evidence but they are few and far between and the line between their excellent work and work that crosses the line into boring sterility is pretty thin.
  6. Was about to recommend this book. Very well reasoned and written. One of his basic ideas is the difference between the "workmanship of certainty "such as using machinery or jigs to achieve a preplanned effect vs. the "workmanship of risk" where you maintain direct control of your tools while accepting that small variations will occur naturally.
  7. Yes you can but a violin, unlike a painting or a sculpture, has to fit ia pretty narrow set of criteria to be useful and accepted by musicians. The small allowable differences between outlines and arches are only really visible to educated eyes while Burgesses rippled backs or my plane marked ribs and heavily corduroyed tops make it easy to identify our work. These kind of marks are different from torn grain or broken out edge crests. a clean tool mark is just that and while it is easy enough to obliterate them the violin is really not better off for it. A strong shape is much more important than a smooth surface. There are areas where one should demonstrate your ability to do clean work such as the neck and the bridge but for the rest of the instrument texture is another aspect of making an interesting instrument.
  8. I always say the Italians made beautifully flawed instruments and the Germans made perfectly ugly ones. Many exceptions in both directions but as a rule... Some of my favorite marks are Scarampella"s tooth plane marks and Andrea Amati's gouge mark down the center of his corners. Also once saw a 1/2 sized Scarampella which had flat facets from a hatchet on the back and then the whole thing looked dipped in a beautiful ruby red varnish.
  9. As some one who has made a career out of making instruments where the “manufacturing artifacts” are part of the style I would say that there are a number of reasons not to get to carried away with removing them. While I did rather clean work as a student and refused to even shade the varnish on my first instruments to make sure I was not using “character” as an excuse for poor workmanship I soon realized that making a fetish of removing every tool mark could result in boring instruments which might as well have been done by a machine or a computer. While there are some makers such as Ansaldo Poggi who was capable of making instruments where the shapes themselves were good enough to carry the instrument, for most makers some degree of surface texture adds interest and life to the work. I was also influenced in this by the teaching of my grand father, a fairly successful sculptor who taught me that the direction of carving gave energy and life to a shape even if the tool marks were removed and that the quickest way to ruin a shape was to fuss with it. Cut it once and get it right was always better than going back over a carving. I also think that there is a spontaneity to working quickly which is evident in most of the great classical Italian instruments. I have seen one Stradivari cello which showed saw marks, toothed plane marks and scraper marks all on one c-bout rib which had held the original varnish and now added a dash of bright red which caught the eye in a very nice way. While adding tool marks to an already finished surface generally just looks silly, leaving the traces of the tools is a whole different matter. I use only hand tools and will rough down as close as I can using a large gouge then remove all but the faintest traces of that process with toothed planes, the marks of the teeth with smooth planes and the marks of the planes with a scraper. At each step I leave just the faintest traces of the previous tools resulting in an instrument which simply cannot have been made by a machine and which will tell the story of how it was made as the varnish wears. Like wise using a gouge alone to finish the edge work can leave a rippled frame like effect which sets off the smoother central area of the plates. Lastly these types of surfaces allow any subsequent nicks or scratches to blend right in so that the instrument never goes through the awkward phase where each scratch is traumatic for the player and requires a trip to the shop for some usually not too successful retouching.
  10. Ok yes, good no. Other than cottonwood quaking aspen is the worst of the many varieties of poplar and willow that I have tried.
  11. Aspen covers several dozen varieties of Populus as well as being a commercial name for several other species. If you mean P. Tremuloides (quaking Aspen) I would say pretty poor choice as it has a poor strength to weight ratio and a dry brittle consistency rather than the more resilient springier strength of some of the other poplars or willows. Many woods are suitable for the lower pitched instruments but violins really need harder and to some degree heavier woods to sound right with normal construction and thicknessing. However individual characteristics are always more important than nomenclature and it might be possible to find a piece of quaking aspen which would work well.
  12. Don't know how the home worker organization of Markneukirchen/Schonbach would differ from the modern assembly line shop but in the shop I trained in there were departments for: Rib set maker Plate maker/body assembler scroll carver/neck setter final detail finisher (edge work, button shaping and chamfer sometimes finished by the body assembler.) varnisher setup person If one wanted to divide the work further it would make sense to have someone very skilled at fitting bass bars and another who did purfling. It would be counter productive to have one person making tops and another backs as it could only result in inconsistency in arching, corners and purfling. In a large shop each of these tasks would be done by a department or group and tasks could be further divided such as having one guy cutting FFs on a stack of plates while some one else was roughing out the archings on the next batch. We generally worked on 6 violins or two cellos at a time to avoid down time while glue dried.
  13. Peter, Cutting the top of the mortise in the shape of the letter M then removing the center part makes the job faster and much cleaner. You can start this just above your highest drill or gouge hole and just keep moving it up under the chin as far as you want. I also will often use a mortise chisel with a rounded bevel as D. Sora described to under cut the top of the peg box leaving more room for putting on the A string while keeping more wood on the sides of the pegbox to avoid weakening it.
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