nathan slobodkin

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Posts posted by nathan slobodkin

  1. I have never worked on an exterior mold but can say that for anyone working quickly with any method it is possible that ribs slide or a joint looks good dry but less good after gluing. Cutting a groove and gluing in a strip of purfling takes perhaps 5 minutes and  unless it is really badly done looks just fine. Like wise if through some looseness in outline shape the perfect centering of the end pin does not fall perfectly on the rib joint adding a purfling gives you a chance to line things up and do a little decorating at the same time.

  2. 9 hours ago, Mark Norfleet said:

    They work well.  I've been using them for a long time and they solve more problems than they create when working on finished instruments.
    My only complaint is that after 20 or so years, a few of them have broken when using them with higher pressure than is usually needed.

    Yes. I have had the same problem and have now replaced most of mine after about 25 years of use. Interestingly the cello clamps seem not to have the problem even though I have definitely used them as much.

  3. A damp cloth and time will loosen the linen. I would try applying a damp cloth and brushing a bit of cold water often enough  to keep it damp then using a little warm water from the glue pot to get an edge started and applying more warm water as you peel the linen off.

    The veneer repairs, however, may prove more challenging to remove and may need a counter form and carving tools. I don't see your pictures yet which may be waiting for moderater intervention.

  4. As David says If your glueing regimen is correct this is indeed pretty mysterious and his experiment would be interesting. Are you a professional maker? Gluing large joints like this can be tricky and it is most important that the surfaces match up perfectly requiring almost no pressure.

  5. 15 hours ago, Salve Håkedal said:

    When I make new instruments, I do 2 small tricks:

    Cut a very small chamfer at the edge of the block.

    When I size the block with glue, I don't go quite to the edge.

    If I use thin enough glue for the final gluing, it will soak into the wood where it's not sized. So there will not be glue squeezed out at the edge of the block. And the tiny slit from the chamfer will lead the opening knife in position.


    Yes! I always chamfer the inner edge of the upper and lower block on my instruments and unless the instrument has some historical value I will do so on repairs as well. I also use extremely weak glue for tops but do apply an even application on all the glue surface. I find that using old deteriorating glue is better than just thinning fresh.

  6. 2 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

    Personally I avoid proteins. I have tried dozens of things and continue to experiment, but right now I'm sold on Joe Robson's ground system. I use it a little differently than he recommends - I get a good heavy tan on the bare wood before I start applying the coats. As I understand his products, what you end up with is a complex of resins and a tiny bit of oil (as part of the last step, the "ground varnish) entirely inside the upper few microns of the wood surface. I have found it to be an idiot proof system. Going right on top of that with as richly colored a varnish as you want will not burn anything. 


    What is your issue with proteins? 

  7. One of the dangers of resetting a neck is that it may either drop or move in some other way after the reset. In the shop where I was trained it was standard to trim the sides of the mortise back to clean wood and glue over sized maple shims which are then trimmed flush with the ribs before fitting the neck. Willow shims tend to compress and the neck may loosen.

    Also agree with  David that the proper way to add wood to the top is to slice an over size piece of cross grained spruce size it with thin glue then gue it so the grains line up with the top. That also gets shaped flush with the top and top edges before the neck is set.


  8. On September 12, 2020 at 5:08 AM, Andreas Preuss said:

    Hi Nathan,

    i wonder how it came that you were make the joint with gorilla glue invisible because the glue expands. Must be your genius. ;)

    never tried gorilla glue on broken cello necks, but I have one half size sitting around which was given to me.

    I was surprised as well but I think using a very thin application of glue and firm clamping is the answer. 

    Looks like you also were able to get a very tight glue line.

    Nice job

  9. Hi Andreas,

    I have no confidence in cyanoacrylate or epoxy for these kind of joints but was once asked by a favorite client to glue a cello neck on a cheap student's cello which had broken at the usual spot due to a fall.

     I used gorilla glue from the hardware store and was extremely impressed. I followed the directions which included wetting the joint surfaces first and then applying a very thin layer of glue before clamping. The result was a joint which was totally invisible under minor retouching and as far as I know has been holding for about five years with no problems whatsoever. That is my only experience with it but for what it's worth...... 

    I would wonder if the oily nature of pernambuco might make it work differently.

  10. 8 hours ago, Advocatus Diaboli said:

    I think this is the first time I’ve heard David say anything nice about antiquing!  

    That also brings up the question of why and who you’re antiquing for.  Are you antiquing for the client, other Luthier’s, or yourself?  Are you antiquing to make a fashion statement?  Are you trying to end up with a result that comes close to fooling people?  Are you trying to take away the newness just enough that the player doesn’t worry about letting it wear from use?  Frame of mind can change everything.

    Excellent question. Most of my "antiquing" is to give a warmer more user friendly look which many people interpret as age and will allow the instrument to age on it's own without going through the awkward phase of looking like a beautiful teenage girl with pimples. If there is a nice varnish to begin with it will age well. I do wonder about how well the 300 year old looking new violin will fare over time.

  11. 4 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

    More seriously, apart from the fun, in my opinion a plus from the gouge is that it allows you to get much more information about the material you are using, such as the direction of the fiber in the various places, ease of splitting, hardness and strength of the wood, etc., based on the sensations of penetration during the cut and the sound produced when cutting. These sensations can influence, for example, subtle variations in the arching shape in order to optimize them for the piece of wood you are using. I know, this requires a lot of experience, but it is an aspect that should not be underestimated. This is one of the reasons why I feel it is not wasted time to do the work completely by hand from the beginning and without shortcuts for roughing (power tools), and I have the impression that the gouge is much more sensitive than planes and fingerplanes on the perception of these aspects.

    I absolutely agree with this and have mentioned it in discussions of CNC machines and other machine tools. Having said that I do also have a set of two wooden Ulmia scrub planes one of which has been radiused in both directions which I use for roughing down to a rough hight and preparing a starting wedge shape from square edged planks.

  12. Jackson,

    I often do this kind of fifty year antiquing and the most important thing is to find a good example to copy. Eric Blot's books are full of nice mid 20th century instruments and I reccomend looking at them. 

    I always do any needed wear in the wood first before the first coats of varnish  and rub a very, very light haze of dry dirt colors into the wood any place the varnish will be totally worn away.

    Don't try to do everything all at once. I do a few dings of various kinds between varnish layers so that the damage appears to be of different ages. There are different kinds of marks which occur from different causes; scratches that break all the way through the varnish, dents which don't actually break the varnish at all and wear that happens over some years of use which can be either chippy edged from finger nails or the frog of the bow or smooth from hands or clothing. Very important to think about what caused each mark or wear spot and what direction the damage came from. Bow damage on the treble  C of a violin for instance almost always comes perpendicular to the strings while chips where the bow strikes the top when positioning the hand for pizzicato comes from above.

    Lastly be very careful about what colors you use in nicks and scratches. I avoid black almost completely. Most dirt is gray ,brown or greenish and all of them look darker when you varnish or polish over them. Argles' trick with oil color rubbed off with newspaper works well but I do it to individual marks or small areas alternating and mixing ochers, umbers and grays I also   use water color or colored chalk on other marks to simulate different ages and origins.

    Randomness is your friend and a light hand always best. As Joe Robson says think of how much wear you want to see and then do a tenth of it.

  13. Bringing this back to the top because I was hoping to see some knowledgable answers here. I am guessing some of the iron compounds used for dying purfling with some hard varnish on top would be a possibility but if any one knows more about this I'd like to hear it.

  14. Any one aware of problems with Dominant A's? I am remembering a vague rumor about  some defective strings. I have a client who has broken 3 in the last 2 months. I haven't had a chance to see the fiddle and don't know where they are breaking but as said recall hearing of some problems.

  15. 3 hours ago, G,dae said:

    No, I don’t. My current hair has lasted 7 years. I realise it’s going to be tricky to get a true answer as a) some believe that hair doesn’t need to be replaced until it physically wears and, b) some don’t believe bows make any difference to tone anyway.

    The "some" in question are wrong.

    You should buy the bow which feels best to you and helps you to sound best. Coda is a good brand and have a number of models. 

    If you don't break hair you can certainly go a year or two between rehairs and possibly quite a bit longer. If you don't hear or feel a difference after a rehairing then try waiting longer the next time. Except for very sensitive players the decline in the bow hair is so slow that you won't notice but may feel and hear the change with the new hair.

    Why the reluctance to ship a bow? If you use a bow case inside a mailing tube it should be quite safe and with a really expensive bow a case enclosed in a schedule 40 plumbing pipe would probably withstand any thing short of being run over by a truck.


  16. 1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

    Was he a crook?:o

    No, although he certainly was in busines to buy low, sell high and keep costs down in between. For several decades he was recognized as one of the most knowledgable people in the business and certainly profited from others ignorance of attribution or value at times. None the less I think he gave honest attributions  to what he sold based on his knowledge at the time. I am sure that with modern tools and ongoing research some of his attributions will be questioned but I think he took great pride in selling the best instruments in the world as well as getting the highest prices possible.

  17. Philip,

    Having spent many years making and selling  instruments or working for others who do so I assure you there are honest and knowledgable people in the business.

    Just like other businesses you patronize checking the  education and training of the owner and their employees as well as their  reputation in the community will be worth while. I personally spent 8 years as an apprentice, journeyman and intern as well as attending many seminars and conferences over the years. If I am selling something where the price depends on authenticity or origin then I get and sometimes must pay for expert opinions before representing the object as the work of a particular maker. I have to compete with people who have no training whatsoever who can invent any story they like about anything they sell and often have the backing of a teacher or professional musician who is happy to reccomend any instrument for a 10% commission. I also have to contend with musicians who think nothing of asking me to spend time preparing instruments or even having things shipped in for them to look at and then not showing up for appointments or rejecting instruments after playing for 30 seconds without even bothering to tune them up.

    Yes, I charge for my time, my expertise, my financial investment and the cost of maintaining a shop. When clients come in to my shop I try to sell them an instrument they will be happy with for a fair price which allows me to make a living.

    The fact that dealers disagree about instruments reflects differences in training, the difficulty of determining origins as well as the fact that they may have different information such as one having seen the inside while the other has not. If you want to know for absolute certain who made an instrument then watch some one make it. Otherwise there are people whose opinions are worth more than others and who do their best to be  honest about what they know and what they believe.

  18. I am trying to find an article about a particular instrument that was featured in The Strad in the late 6o's. I believe '65 or '66. Any body know how to go about finding such a thing? With libraries closed I am at a disadvantage but assume there is some way to get this on line.

    Thanks for any help.

  19. Jacob,

    i am seeing no apparant glue surfaces on the neck itself.

     Is the whole thing simply held in by the screw alone?

    Does one "set" the neck with the pitch overly high and then back it down to give adjustment in either direction?

    Pretty interesting and  amazing to find this in original condition.