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Stephen Churchill

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Posts posted by Stephen Churchill

  1. So this weekend I jointed my maple back...

    All in all I probably spent around 12hrs on it over the weekend



       That's not bad, I'm pretty sure I spent at least 12 hours on my first back.  I ended up using a reference stone with a strip of an MDF poster on it for a shooting board.  Later I made in the attached picture with alumninum stips, adjusted to flatness with a reference steel straightedge.

        For spruce I find  you don't need to clamp down the workpiece and can run the plane against the edge 'freehand', resting just on the shooting board.

        For maple I clamp down the piece and cut down to the aluminum stop.


         A thought on linings. cut your linings roughly to size and drop them into a pot of boiled water.  Let it cool and they'll be very flexible.  You can wipe them off and clamp they to the linings.  Once they dry they should follow the shape pretty closely.  I do something close to this.  After soaking and bend them on an iron which helps them dry and set the shape.  BTW, I don't think you need to import spruce or willow for linings.  Something straight grained and flexible will work fine.  (what did they use for barrell hoops before iron in australia?, in N.A. they used alder and willow)  Personally I think the same applies to the blocks.  I use Black Spruce from Newfoundland for my blocks.  Higher strength than red or white spruce, but a tendency to twist as it grows, which is ok for short lengths.

        When you copy the shape of the linings to your back make sure you clearly mark your button. I was so focused on cutting to my mark when making my first back that I cut my first button 1/2 off before realizing I'd cut too far. Don't' do what I did :)






    PS.  yes, in the picture of my first shooting board, I'm using a ikea coffee table as a workbench, including a place to put my little portable vise :) 




  2. On the subject of natural talent. I trained with a Merton College alumni violin maker part time over the period of a year, I and a about five or six other students were there over that period.  Most didn't finish anything, but made some progress while they were there.  There was one kid who was _trying_ to get into architecture school at university.  He work was fantastic.  Clean, precise, significantly better than my first attempts.  I can really see how that kind of talent would catapult you very quickly to making better and better violins.

    In my opinion, i think its important to make every instrument the best that you can make it.  Meaning take your time, fix your mistakes as you go. Slapping out violins as quickly as possible can't be the answer.  I never want to make an instrument i'm not proud to show to players and other makers.

    That being said, violin making is much like the art market.  You certainly can't start with nothing (poor workmanship and tone), but even if you achieve those things it won't be enough.  Its largely about marketing and connections if you want to go 'big'.  Sorry if I sound negative.


    >> edit: my instructor studied at Merton College Oxford, not Newark <<

  3. Hey, 
       Yes, gouge to reveal the joint, it will be likely difficult to see with glue and uneven surfaces at the joint interface, you don't need a big cut, just to get to the even wood and under the glue.  I haven't heard of anyone chaulking the joint but I don't see any harm in it either.  The spruce will be more forgiving since it will plem up with the glue much more than the back.
       The modes of vibration of violin plates are well researched.  The CAS journals did volumes of research, as well as many others since.  There are many accomplished experts on here as well, I certainly don't claim to be one of them :)
        http://www.platetuning.org/html/modes_-_tuning_plates.html is a good overview and discusses how to use FFTs to look for mode peaks when tapping.  I found this useful.
        At a minimum I think tap tuning helps compensate for differences in densities and stiffnesses.  Graduation diagrams are all well and good, but given the variations from tree to tree and even within a single piece of wood, they are (IMHO) almost useless as a absolute measurement, however I would look at them from a relative point of view (thinner here, thicker there).  I do think tap tuning helps ensure playability and evenness of tone, but I have no evidence to back that up.  As for the final acoustics of the instrument there are other factors. I plan to try to emulate some of Jack Fry's method on the two Stainers I have in progress.
        Attached are couple pictures of my 2nd and the top for #3, all done with a shooting board, and a rub joint, no clamps.  





  4. Hey,

       I don't follow any particular recipe for my water:glue ratio.  Thin is better for getting into small places.  There are also different grades, but its not critical, especially for your first violin.  Stronger glue sets faster (less 'open' time).  Very thick shouldn't be a problem, so long as you have the pressure to close up the joint.

       The difference between a big plane and a little plane and a shooting board or free hand is this: a shorter plane means more difficulty getting the length of the joint flat along the long axis, but that just means more care and gentle removal of high points, doable.  With free hand, you have to keep it at close to 90 degress (being off means more planing of the inside face later), the bigger issue is controlling any rotation of the plane will be a problem.  Free hand means you have to control the yaw aspect as well, a shooting board eliminates this.  Doing it free hand gives you bragging rights, but doesn't end up in a better joint.  I tried free hand a few times with my first violin, spending hours trying to get it right.  Then I setup a shooting board and got a great result in 1/2 an hour max.

        When glueing a joint without clamps, I use the 'rub' joint technique.  First the surfaces have to mate perfectly.  Hold a light behind the joint and no light should come through where they meet in the middle, pressing the joint together on either end shouldn't cause the other end to lift.  You can heat the joint surfaces over a stove element glowing red to warm the joint, it will give you more working time with the glue. The glue should not be too thick, I'd suggest adding and mixing warm water to thin it until it begins dripping from the end of your brush).  Hold the bottom piece in a vise (or somehow), flood the top with glue, and then brush glue onto the opposing piece. Mate them and rub the top piece on the bottom piece without breaking the surface tension of the glue.  As the glue sets it will get hard to move and you reduce the rubbing movement until you end up with them aligned where you want.  When you're ready to glue you want to have everything in place to minimise cooling of the joint and glue.

       To check the joint after 20 minutes or so, carefully gouge at a few spots on the top and bottom to reveal the joint.  Avoid where your top and bottom blocks will attach on the inside, so you don't end up with a big gouge mark where you might want to have your final mating surface to the ribs.  If you're not happy, break the joint apart, wash with hot water, let dry and start again.  Alternative, let it setup over night and check, but then if you're not happy you'll have to saw them apart along the center line, since once is set the glue will be stronger than wood and will tear out chunks if you try to break it.  Typically a back or front set will have enough wood to saw it apart at least a few times.


    Good Luck!

  5. They are still producing two posters a year.  

    As it happens they did reprint these six just recently:

    Guarneri 'del Gesù'         Violin 'Kochanski'             1741       P120

    Antonio Stradivari            cello 'De Munck'               1730       P131

    Guarneri 'del Gesù'         Violin 'Alard'       1742       P135

    Antonio Stradivari            violin 'Viotti'       1709       P144

    Antonio Stradivari            violin 'Kruse'       1721       P145         

    Antonio Stradivari            Violin 'Messiah'                 1716       P214


    Not the Davidov though.

  6. Hi I've compiled a list of the Strad Posters.  I indexed by the Strad stock number.  The list is also on my web site here, but I wanted to post it in Maestronet for the reference.  
    Note, the year of publication listed below has not been verified and I've only filled a few so far.  Descriptions are taken from The Strad's publications and are abbreviated in some cases. Current up to the end of 2014.  Sorry that its a bit messy, I couldn't post a table in here, the list on my website is more readable.


    Poster P101, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: violin "Hellier" 1679, Published: May-1987, Description: Perhaps the most famous of all decorated violins, the 'Hellier' is a visual feast.
    Poster P102, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesu', Instrument: violin 'Kreisler' 1733, Published: May-1988, Description: The full charm ol del Gesu' flourishes in the Kreisler', the tone of which has been magnificently demonstrated by one of this century's most remarkable players. NOTE: 'Kreisler' Correction: Due to a printing error a number of measurements of the 1733 'Kreisler' Del Gesii published in the May STRAD (p. 406) were misprinted. While the measurements of the button, rib height and purfling are correct, those of the  body of the instrument should read as follows: (in millimetres) Back/Belly: Overhang (uneven), in Cs 3.5  3, in bouts 3.2  2.5
    Poster P103, Maker: 'filius Andreae' Joseph Guarneri, Instrument: violin c.1705, Published: —, Description: Among the most exceptional examples of a Giuseppe 'filius Andrea' instrument, singling him out as a fine maker as well as sire and teacher of the great 'del Gesù' .
    Poster P104, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesù', Instrument: violin "David/Heifetz" 1742, Published: Dec-1988, Description: A wonderfully sustained instrument emerging amidst the intermittent weak examples from del Gesu's declining ...
    Poster P105, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: violin 'Betts' 1704, Published: May-1989, Description: "From the year of the "Betts', it is evident that Stradivari had arrived at the principles of acoustical construction to serve him until the end of his career." (Hill brothers-Life and Work of Antonio Stradicari)
    Poster P106, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: cello 'Servais' 1701, Published: Dec-1987, Description: The only example which combines the grandeur of the pre-1700 instruments with the more masculine build of the master's earlier years.' (Hill Brothers - Life and Work of Antonio Stradivari)
    Poster P107, Maker: Map of Cremona, Instrument: — —, Published: —, Description: Cremona map, 1580. A richly pictorial map depicting Cremona as the masters would have known it.
    Poster P108, Maker: Andrea Amati, Instrument: violin 1564, Published: Dec-1991, Description: The beauty of the workmanship, tonal properties and rich decoration of this royal instrument has seldom if ever been matched or surpassed. (Roger Hargrave)
    Poster P109, Maker: Alessandro Gagliano, Instrument: violin 'Rotondo' 1710, Published: ?May ? 1987, Description: The Rotondo stands at the forefront of the handful of surviving works by the first recorded Neapolitan violin maker.
    Poster P110, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesu', Instrument: violin 1733, Published: Apr-1984, Description: Admirers of Tibor Varga will appreciate the qualities of this almost perfectly preserved violin, with which he made some of his finest recordings.
    Poster P111, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: "Gibson" Viola 1734, Published: Sep-1986, Description: The accuracy and beauty of this viola was a painstaking feat and a virtual swan-song for the old maker in his nineties.
    Poster P112, Maker: Jacob Stainer, Instrument: violin 1679, Published: Apr-1990, Description: A remarkably preserved violin by the most popular non-Italian maker of his day.
    Poster P113, Maker: G.B. Guadagnini, Instrument: violin 'Lachmann Schwechter' 1776, Published: Feb-1985, Description: This excellent example of Guadagnini's work has a powerful tone, equal in quality to its striking, fiery-coloured varnish.
    Poster P114, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: violin 'Muir-Mackenzie' 1694, Published: Dec-1985, Description: A fine example of a long-pattern Stradivari, showing a marked divergence from the Amati pattern.
    Poster P115, Maker: Nicola Amati, Instrument: violin 'Alard' 1649, Published: Mar-1992, Description: A magnificently crafted violin by the teacher of Rugeri, Guarneri, Stainer and possibly even Stradivari himself.
    Poster P116, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: viola 'Tuscan-Medici'  1690, Published: Oct-1992, Description: A rare surviving viola from the master's most skilful period.
    Poster P117, Maker: Brothers Amati, Instrument: tenor viola 1592, Published: Mar-1993, Description: A fine example of the rarely played tenor viola, which set the standard for all the great Cremonese makers.
    Poster P118, Maker: Domenico Montagnana, Instrument: cello 'Sleeping Beauty' 1739, Published: Oct-1993, Description: Called 'the Mighty Venetian' by novelist Charles Reade, Domenico Montagnana is venerated as one of the greatest cello makers. This 1739 instrument is a mature example of his craft, with beautiful deep-flamed maple and well-matched pine, and thickly laid-on red-golden varnish.
    Poster P119, Maker: Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Instrument: contralto viola Unkwn, Published: Jun-1994, Description: A rare example of an unaltered contralto viola from the middle period of the great 17th-century Brescian maker. Date unknown.
    Poster P120, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesù', Instrument: violin 'Kochanski' 1741, Published: Oct-1994, Description: One of the few 'del Gesù' instruments dated 1741, this violin is exceptional due to its fine state of preservation and pristine varnish.The thickness of the coat is almost undisturbed by polishing, and its glistening texture emphasises the instrument's freshness and natural condition.
    Poster P121, Maker: Carlo Bergonzi, Instrument: violin 1731, Published: Jun-1995, Description: Carlo Bergonzi's output was among the smallest of the Cremonese makers but is characterised by outstanding quality, as this violin shows.
    Poster P122, Maker: Pietro Guarneri of Venice, Instrument: violin 1735, Published: Dec-1995, Description: A master combination of the traditions of Cremona and Venice by the elder brother of 'del Gesù'. The flamed maple of the back has a richness associated with golden-period Stradivaris, and Guarneri's flowing, mannered f-holes work well with the red brilliance of the Venetian varnish.
    Poster P123, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: viola 'Archinto'  1696, Published: Jun-1996, Description: Stradivari's elegant design and nt perfected red varnish combine in remarkable instrument
    Poster P124, Maker: Nicolò Amati, Instrument: violin 1666, Published: Dec-1996, Description: In both conception and creation this 'Grand Pattern' violin is a treasure of craftsmanship. The wood of the front has a wonderful rippling gleam that seems to come only from the greatest Cremonese grounds, and the arching is almost square across the centre bouts but with a beautiful long arch that dips only barely at the ends.
    Poster P125, Maker: Andrea Guarneri, Instrument: viola 'Conti Vitali' c.1676, Published: —, Description: An important instrument from the first maker to concentrate on the smaller-pattern viola.
    Poster P126, Maker: Alessandro Gagliano, Instrument: cello 1704, Published: —, Description: Advanced for its date in design, this fine cello is also remarkable for its varnish.
    Poster P127, Maker: G.B. Rogeri, Instrument: violin 1704, Published: Dec-1997, Description: A characteristic violin from the end of the Brescian maker's career, clearly showing the influence of Amati.
    Poster P128, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: violin 'Milanollo' 1728, Published: Jun-1998, Description: A rare violin in fine condition, conserved rather than played, which matches several of the period, including the 'Kreutzer'. Made when the master was in his 84th year, the violin is capable of producing a clean, aggressive, light sound and all shades in between as well.
    Poster P129, Maker: G.B. Guadagnini, Instrument: viola 1785, Published: Dec-1998, Description: A typical small and stocky viola of the Turin period, which is both rare and finely preserved.
    Poster SCD05, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesù', Instrument: Violin 'Il Cannone' 1742, Published: Jun-1999, Description: Poster, CD and Booklet
    Poster P130, Maker: Gasparo da Salò, Instrument: viola c.1580, Published: Dec-1999, Description: Possibly the only small Gasparo viola in existence, this is a fascinating and uncut example of the early Brescian maker's work.
    Poster P131, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: cello 'De Munck' 1730, Published: Jun-2000, Description: This marvellous, well-presented cello played by Feuermann and Isserlis is striking for the originality that created a new cello form.
    Poster P132, Maker: Matteo Gofriller (Goffriller), Instrument: violin 1700, Published: Dec-2000, Description: A classic example of the great Venetian's work: his own pattern with glorious varnish and individual wood selection.
    Poster P133, Maker: Brothers Amati, Instrument: viola c.1620, Published: Jun-2016, Description: This rare example of a contralto viola by the Amati brothers is uncut and in superb condition.
    Poster P134, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: cello 'Davidov'  1712, Published: Dec-2016, Description: > not available <
    Poster P135, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesù', Instrument: violin 'Alard' 1742, Published: Jun-2016, Description: In undisturbed condition, this violin gives an unparalleled insight into the working methods of 'del Gesù'. Its unpolished finish, lack of patina, pale ground and general condition mean it could almost be mistaken for a 19th-century or even a modern instrument. The bulky look of the head places it in the group of those carved by the maker himself.
    Poster P136, Maker: G.B. Guadagnini, Instrument: cello 'Simpson' 1777, Published: Dec-2016, Description: This impressive cello, Guadagnini's last commission from his patron Count Cozio, follows a Stradivarian template, but his own style still shines through.
    Poster P137, Maker: G.P. Maggini, Instrument: violin c.1630, Published: Jun-2016, Description: One of the few Magginis to remain at its original size, this Cremonese-influenced violin is in superb condition
    Poster P138, Maker: Matteo Gofriller (Goffriller), Instrument: cello 'Schneider' 1693, Published: Dec-2016, Description: An unusual cello by the Venice-based luthier, with a rosette that harks back to his German training and influences.
    Poster P139, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesu', Instrument: violin 'Lord Wilton' 1742, Published: —, Description: Once the concert instrument of Yehudi Menuhin, this magnificent violin makes an interesting contrast with the 'Alard' of the same year.
    Poster P140, Maker: Carlo Giuseppe Testore, Instrument: violin c.1703, Published: Jun-2016, Description: This fine-sounding Milanese violin, with a one-piece belly and imitation purfling, is still in excellent condition
    Poster P141, Maker: Peter Guarneri of Mantua (Pietro Guarneri of Manua), Instrument: violin 1704, Published: Dec-2016, Description: A stunning violin by the greatest craftsman of the Guarneri family
    Poster P142, Maker: Andrea Amati, Instrument: violin c.1566, Published: Jun-2016, Description: One of the decorated instruments made for the French court, this harmoniously designed violin is a striking reminder of Andrea Amati's achievements
    Poster P143, Maker: Domenico Montagnana, Instrument: cello 1740, Published: Dec-2016, Description: This fine, unusually small cello, played by Steven Isserlis, has the dark-toned, signature sound of the great Venetian maker's larger instruments.
    Poster P144, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: violin 'Viotti' 1709, Published: Mar-2016, Description: One of the top Stradivari violins in the world, the 1709 'Viotti' helped to establish the master's name - thanks to its illustrious owner. The powerful tone and brilliance of sound created by this exceptional combination of instrument and performer (G.B. Viotti) helped to create the Stradivari legend.
    Poster P145, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: violin 'Kruse' 1721, Published: Jun-2016, Description: Played by Kreutzer, Maurin and Stern, the 1721 'Kruse' is one of the master's finest violins and remains in superb condition.
    Poster P146, Maker: Domenico Montagnana, Instrument: violin 1717, Published: Dec-2016, Description: A vivid and uncompromising violin that shows both the strong effect of Montagnana's early influences and also the rapid evolution of his own style - by 1717 he was already a very experienced maker. The varnish is lush, deep and vivid, and looks as if it was poured on with a ladle over a ground of sparkling gold. Includes measurements
    Poster P147-P204, Maker: ?, Instrument: ? , Published: Jan-1900, Description: > Mostly likely these poster numbers were never used <
    Poster P205, Maker: Gasparo da Salò, Instrument: double bass c.1550, Published: —, Description: A magnificent double bass by the 16th century Italian master, Gasparo da Salò with original scroll.
    Poster P206, Maker: Carlo Bergonzi, Instrument: violin 1736, Published: Mar-2016, Description: A fabulous instrument made by Bergonzi at the height of his powers.
    Poster P207, Maker: Henry Jaye, Instrument: viol 1619, Published: Jun-2016, Description: The intricate work of British viol maker Henry Jaye is testament to the unsung tradition of viol making in 17th century London.
    Poster P208, Maker: Brothers Amati, Instrument: Cello (5-String)  c.1600, Published: Feb-2016, Description: As the only known example of this specific form of instrument, this Brothers Amati five-stringed cello c.1600 from the workshops of Cremona, is something of an oddity
    Poster P209, Maker: Nicolas Lupot, Instrument: violin 1808, Published: Jun-2016, Description: The impact this violin makes on both the eye and ear is very little short of that of its inspiration, a truly great golden period Stradivari. It is quite appropriate that he is known as the French Stradivari. The varnish on this violin is simply glorious, and present in good quantity and thickness. The colour is a wonderful deep red with the faintest blue notes of a very fine wine. John Dilworth, The Strad, June 2008
    Poster P210, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: violin 'Titian' 1715, Published: Feb-2016, Description: The 'Titian' Stradivari of 1715 has long been counted among its maker's finest golden-period violins. It has revealed itself to be a formidable concert instrument of unusual power and scope, remarkable for its focus and resilience under the bow. The violin was dubbed 'Titian' by the French dealer Albert Caressa because of its clear orange-red colour that reminded him of the work of the famous Venetian painter. Includes photographs, scans and measurements
    Poster P211, Maker: Pietro Giacomo Rogeri, Instrument: cello 1717, Published: Jul-2016, Description: This cello, made in 1717, was owned by Nicolò Paganini who pawned it to pay off a gambling debt. The superb quality of maple used for the cello is obvious and most features of the construction follow Amati principles. The Hills mentioned in specifically in their book Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work and called it an 'admirable form...of excellent dimensions'.
    Poster P212, Maker: Jacob Stainer, Instrument: tenor viola 1650, Published: Mar-2016, Description: This tenor viola is in superb condition. The scroll is a replacement, but the rest of the instrument - remarkably the neck and fingerboard - are believed to be original. The instrument's label, which is a facsimile, states that it was made in 1650.
    Poster P213, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesù', Instrument: Violin 'Cessole', 'Teja-Ferni' 1736, Published: Jul-2016, Description: Guarneri 'del Gesù' made the 'Cessole' violin during his period of full maturity. It bears a label dated 1736, and the character of the instrument fits perfectly with his style in that year. The violin has a delicate, balanced appearance, a trait that is generally unexpected for 'del Gesù', but which is often found in his instruments before his later period. The back is spectacular, with a broad and deep flame extending upwards from the central joint.
    Poster P214, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: Violin 'Messiah' 1716, Published: Mar-2016, Description: Stradivari's 1716 'Messiah' violin is one of the most coveted in the world. Made during his golden period and barely played since then, its pristine condition offers unique insights into the mind of the great master.
    Poster P215, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesù', Instrument: violin 'Plowden' 1735, Published: Jul-2016, Description: One of the finest and most acclaimed 'del Gesù' instruments in existence, the 'Plowden' is striking in its vivid freshness and particularly notable for the intense orange-red varnish on its stunning one-piece back.
    Poster P216, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: Cello 'Saveuse' 1726, Published: May-2016, Description: The 1726 'Saveuse' is one of the smallest cellos ever to come out of Antonio Stradivari's workshop. From the beautifully carved scroll to the smouldering, rich maroon colour of the varnish, the instrument displays the finest characteristics of the luthier's late period. It remains in almost perfect condition and provides a fascinating insight into the mind of Stradivari the innovator. This poster will be an excellent resource for anyone looking to learn from the master.
    Poster P217, Maker: Francesco Rugeri, Instrument: violin 1686, Published: Dec-2016, Description: Was the 17th-century maker Francesco Rugeri trained by Nicolò Amati? This violin appears to show the clear influence of the great master, with arching close to Amati's late style and f-holes showing Rugeri's personal interpretation of an Amati model. Conversely, the head seems to anticipate the work of Carlo Bergonzi, some decades later.  A fascinating violin by a highly regarded Cremonese maker.
    Poster P218, Maker: Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, Instrument: Cello 1865, Published: Jun-2016, Description: This beautiful cello was made by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume as part of a quartet for Count Dmitry Sheremetev. It is a rare copy of an early Stradivari of large size, and the form corresponds closely with that of the 'Cristiani', 'Stauffer' Stradivari of 1700. The arching is fuller than in the usual post-1700 B-form flattened style of the Stradivari, and Vuillaume's habitual use of ebony for the purfling gives it a personal touch. The varnish is rich and dark, and the back is emblazoned with the Sheremetev coat of arms.
    Poster P219, Maker: Antonio Stradivari, Instrument: Violin 'Huberman' 1713, Published: Nov-2016, Description: This stunning instrument from Stradivari's golden period has sleek, taut arching, lithe and slender corners, and a bubbled texture to the plum-red varnish. It was played by Bronislaw Huberman until 1936 until it was notoriously stolen from his dressing room at Carnegie Hall. Fifty years later it was recovered, and is now the property of US soloist Joshua Bell. Includes scans and measurements.
    Poster P220, Maker: G.B. Guadagnini, Instrument: Violin 'Salabue', 'Berta' 1774, Published: Jun-2016, Description: One of the early violins of Guadagnini's Turin period, the 'Salabue', 'Berta' is in an excellent state of preservation, having been owned by various collectors (including Count Cozio di Salabue) for the past three centuries.  The condition of the golden brown varnish is particularly fine.
    Poster P221, Maker: José Contreras, Instrument: violin 1767, Published: Dec-2016, Description: This splendid violin from the so-called 'Classical Age' of Spanish violin making might well have been commissioned for King Charles IV. José Contreras (c.1710-82) was one of the greatest luthiers of the era, sometimes referred to as 'the Spanish Stradivari'. The influence of the Cremonese master can clearly be seen in this fine instrument.
    Poster P222, Maker: Andrea Amati, Instrument: cello 'King' Uknwn, Published: Jun-2016, Description: Thought to be the oldest surviving cello in the world, the 'King' provides a wealth of information about Amati's techniques. Although the instrument has undergone extensive modifications over the centuries, it is the only decorated Amati cello to have retained its original scroll. In the 16th century it formed part of the instrument collection of the French royal court.
    Poster P223, Maker: Guarneri 'del Gesù', Instrument: Violin 'Brusilow' 1743, Published: Dec-2016, Description: A superb violin from the last years of the maker's life, the 'Brusilow' is in an incredible state of preservation. Played for many years by Anshel Brusilow during his years as concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the instrument displays many of the idiosyncratic qualities that characterise the late period of 'del Gesù'.

    Updated 3-Mar-2016

  7. A suggestion (maybe obvious) for jointing your back. I was taught to plane the joints while they were held vertically on a vice with a block plane. Impressive if you can do it but frustrating for a beginner. A much easier way is a shooting board a nicely sharpened jack or shoulder plane. I get nice rub joints this way.

    Another interesting point is that many Strads, etc are split backs. There is no reason I can think of that whole backs would be in rare supply. Did they choose split backs for astetics or was it for strength (the different annual growth direction), or for long term stability? Might this affect sound? Maybe the one-piece backs were only used if the density was sufficient...



  8. Hi Michael, I use Sigma II water stones that I bought from Lee Valley http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=67089&cat=1,43072,67175 and I like them a lot.  I have 240, 1k, 3k, and 10k grit.  The 240 was handy when I needed to take a lot of material off.  Since I've picked up a Tormek on Craig's list I don't use the 240 any more.  I find there is a big difference between the edge I get from the 3k and the 10K.  The 10k stone seems to cut quickly and it's the stone I use the most.  Last year my 10k stone developed cracks and started falling apart (there's a thread on it somewhere).  LV replaced the stone for free, so +1 for LV service whatever you buy.  Unfortunately, I can't say how the Sigmas work compared to other stones because before these I used my father's oil stone which wasn't really up to the task. 




    Just read NT's post.  I know longer leave my stones in water after use just incase that's what caused the early demise of my 10k stone.

    Hey Jim,

      LV replaced my 10k stone twice.  I eventually switched to the DMT 8K diamond stone.

  9. I had been using a Norton 1000x/4000x and a 10000x Sigma Power Select II Ceramic Water Stone.  I loved the 10000, but it kept falling apart, not really sure what i was doing wrong.

    I recently transisition to 1200x and 8000x DMT DiaSharp Stones.  I had regarded diamond sharpening as gimmicky, but decided to give it a try.  I'm happy with the results, my plane is doing great.  It means more flushing of the surface of the 'stone', but its much less messy and faster in the end.  No need to soak, no need to truing and cuts fast.  One odd thing is i'm not getting a mirror finish on my 8000x, i'm told there is a break-in period for these stones, maybe thats it.



  10. Another first question, do people usually scrape the sides to thickness or use a plane? I did some practice sides last week and it was hard for the plane not to grab on some of the grain.  


    You'll find there are six ways to do everything in violin making.  I use a block plane (razor sharp) and follow with a scraper plane.  This is where good 'craftmanship' comes in.  If you tools are not perfectly sharp you'll take longer, do worse work, and frustrate yourself.  Sharpening is your first skill :)

    Also note that he grain will pull out more in one direction then another so flip it around and plane from the other direction.  I try to get one side perfectly even and flat and then thin from the other side. 

    There are lots of pictures of the making of my first violin on my website, see below.

  11. I think label making is part of the art of lutherie. It is a fun challenge and with modern equipment all kinds of possibilities exist.


    I really do not worry about my paper's longevity as much as I worry about my own.  :rolleyes:


    BTW, I also stamp my label inside on the scroll block which can be seen from the end button hole. 


    Hi Michael,

      Great idea about stamping inside.  Do you use a bridge stamp or something else?




  12. Theoretically, if you're making a printed label or a printed form, a laser printers "ink" (aka toner). Toner is carbon mixed with a polymer (styrene acrylate copolymer, a polyester resin, a styrene butadiene copolymer, or a few other special polymers - Wikipedia). The last printer melts it to the paper. Should last a long, long, time.

  13. From Johnson & Courtnall, here is the list of basic tools:


    Some of the common woodworking tools needed
    are as follows:
    Woodworking vice (I used this one clamped to benches, coffee tables, and parts of hotels for my first instrument, I liked the jaws with wood to prevent marring)
    Tenon or dovetail saw (any fine saw pull saw)
    Coping saw (less necessary if you choose to use a scroll saw)
    Smoothing plane (less necessary)
    Jointer plane (less necessary)
    Block plane (crucial)
    Chisels (just a few are all that's needed)
    Files (regular sized and fine files are needed)
    Rasps (less necessary)
    Oil or water stones (a single 1200 grit Diamond (used with water) will be sufficient)
    Slip stones (can improvise with leather and honing component over wood)
    Honing guide (crucial)
    Hand drill and bits (make sure your bits are brad point regardless of whether you use hand or electric drills / a pin vise wilt bits is useful for putting the holes for strings in pegs)
    Steel rule
    Square (woodworker's) - maybe a T-Square for layout, french curves are also useful in places
    Square (engineer's)
    Adjustable bevel
    Marking gauge
    'C' clamps (assorted sizes)
    The specialized tools are:
    Electric bending iron and strap (some people try to fab these out of steel pipe and a propane torch)
    Thicknessing caliper (you can make one of these with a gage and your own wooden form)
    Vernier caliper
    Purfling marker (bought or fabricated)
    Purfling pick (bought or fabricated)
    Long-reach clamps (bought or fabricated)
    Gouges (Pfeil or two cherries/Hirsch)
    Spool clamps (bought or fabricated)
    Thumb planes 
    'F' hole cutters
    Scrapers (assorted shapes) and burnisher
    Peg-hole reamer
    Peg shaper (bought or fabricated)
    Soundpost setter
    Machine tools (you don't need any but the most handy will be a scroll saw and a drill press)


    You'll end up making jigs and tools of other sorts as you go.

  14. Hi BigFryGuy,

       On the lower mainland  (that's the populated part of SW BC) we have the Violin Makers Association of BC.  The club has a long history (back to 1957).  Currently membership is down from what it was in the 80's but we have some active members.  Most of our members are self-taught.  The club has resources such as books, basic patterns, and endless amounts of advice.  Please contact me for further details.  The club meets monthly in Vancouver (about 1.5 hours from Whistler) and the website is here, only recently put up.  

       My advice is to learn from someone who knows what they are doing.  I worked with an established luthier over the period of year to make my first instrument, it saved me years of trial and error and imparted an eye for precision and quality.  Decide if you want to be a hand-crafter, or 'power-carver'.  Follow a good book like Johnson & Courtnall's "The Art of Violin Making" (hand-crafter style), but its almost impossible to substitute books and videos for someone who can show you and give you feedback in the moment.




  15. Scraper can be dangerous because you can chip out small bits of filler or even maple in the rib and scroll designs and then you've got to do it again. In the end I preferred a sharp file with a finer one to finish up. For the curved areas little riffler files.


    First comes the two rows of purfling and then the wood in between the two is chipped out for the inlay of the dots and lozenges. I put a little soap on the side of the purfling facing the central channel to avoid chipping out the purfling as well.


    The dots and lozenges must be set in place and carefully lined up prior to gluing. That way you can't make a mistake. The you glue them in one by one. Tedious but not really that difficult.




    What material did you use for the dots and lozenges?  I am planning to try this (in the probably distant future) and was wondering if mother of pearl or Tagua Nuts (aka vegetable ivory) would work.  Mother of pearl might be too hard.  

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