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Hackzaw's Achievements


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  1. Just to chime in on the construction techniques of a light box.... how permanent of a solution is required? For many hobbyists, that may only make one of a couple of violins ever (I potentially fall into this category), you could do something on the "Mickey Mouse" end of the spectrum. What I did was buy two fixtures that each held 48" T12 (? I think) flourescent bulbs. I bought 20W blacklight bulbs. Then, in basement storage room, I hung the fixtures vertically from the ceiling joists, with the bulbs facing each other. The violin obviously was hung in the middle. Then, I simply taped lengths of tin foil on the two open sides. Real Mickey Mouse, but all the same, effective. I successfully tanned my wood, and cured varnish with my makeshift UV box. I will suggest that I had this setup in a room that I did not frequent, so exposure to the UV was not a concern. I'm not sure I'd do this in my shop if I were occupying it all the while. I'm not sure what the risks are with blacklights, but what I described wouldn't be "UV tight".
  2. Banzai - I was in exactly the same position as you about 3-4 years ago (I can't even remember when I initially started on this wonderful project). At the time, I was dating a very inspiring young lady (she's now my wife), who played violin. I had an interest in woodworking, but never even contemplated building an instrument of any kind. Until one day, my girlfriend said to me "You could build me a violin", to which I naively replied "You're right, maybe I could". I found this forum (honestly the second forum to bump into), and had the same recommendations to get the Johnson and Courtnall book as a start. At the time, I wasn't sure how interested I was in terms of actually starting this project. As I recall the book was very expensive (somewhere in the range of over $100 if I'm not mistaken), but I took the plunge. I was building my instrument around the same time Seth Leigh was building his first, and I couldn't agree more that reading previous threads is extremely valuable. That said, you'll certainly have your own questions worth posting here as well. My sincere recommendation is to do the following two things.... order the Johnson and Courtnall book, and order your wood. Research here to find dealers of wood. And BTW, way back then someone recommended to build my first violin out of pine, just to get the hang of it. Am I ever glad I disregarded that advice, because after 300+ hours researching and carefully carving my first violin, I wouldn't be terribly satisfied if it wasn't a REAL violin. Order your wood NOW, and pay the most you're comfortable spending. I paid around $125 for a complete supply of wood to make one violin. I don't even feel I'm qualified to respond here because the honest truth is that I'm not finished my first violin. When people ask if I'm done, I tell them the violin is quietly aging. It took me quite a while to get where I am, but only because I had long periods of no activity. I'm actually getting the bug to finish this thing. I've got varnish, ream peg holes, taper pegs, fit the soundpost, trim my bridge and any other final fitting items. So really, I've got a lot of work left. But, I DO have a nicely carved piece of art that resembles the shape of a violin, and I'm proud of it. I just hope to finish it, and have it play such that my wife can play it in one of her chamber orchestra performances.
  3. Jacob - I agree entirely with your summary of how the cutting action works and how the adjustments are have impact on effectiveness. I hadn't considered that by extending the blade further beyond the edge of the bracket, that this could actually reduce the amount of "bite". And of course, it's all dependent on the relationship of blade angle to contact point on the peg. I do agree, that my pegs seem to shave okay at first, but once I get down to say 8mm diameter at the collar, that's when the "bite" seems to really kick in. Perhaps, the blade needs to be extended even further once the original 1.5mm has been reduced. As the peg get's smaller, it drops lower into the gap between edge of blade and far edge of bracket. Thank-you for the insight. John
  4. I've wondered about the contact point of blade to wood, as well. It would seem to me that the angle of the secondary bevel (which Frits indicated was about 85 degrees) and the contact point are absolutely related. Is the cutting action of these types of shavers similar to that of a plane? If so, then shouldn't the secondary bevel's angle, when projected towards the peg, make a contact point almost tangential to the pegs surface? I haven't done it yet, but I'd like to make the shaving action more like scraping. I might try flipping the blade upside down, and turn a burr in the direction of the bevels. Not sure if this would work, and I'd have to get the angle of the burr just right, but in principle, this concept agrees with me more so than a plane cutting action. Jacob - thank you for your detailed reply. Before I try anything, I'll try as you say to extend the blade to 0.7mm, and set up the adjustments as you recommended. I must say, it seems counter-intuitive to make the blade extension MORE!! I would think this would just make it worse by cutting in even deeper than it is now. But I'll try it. Thanks - off to violin supply to buy more pegs...... how many to buy, how many.....
  5. All right - I'm about ready to pitch this adjustable peg shaver in the garbage. I just can't seem to get this thing to shave pegs. I've read in the archives similar woes with peg shavers. The type of peg shaver I've got is a simple metal bracket, with a clamping knob on the top that you first adjust for the taper, and turn the knob to reduce peg thickness. I've sharpened the blade many, many times trying to keep the keenest edge I can on it. I've tried to set it up so just the leading edge (<0.5mm) of the blade extends over the edge of the bracket. It is difficult to get the peg started turning. I've discovered that once I've got it turning, that I do not stop because it seems restarting is a real pain. I've ruined two of my four pegs. I've been using dry soap to lubricate the peg surface. I've also gone to using locking pliers on the peg head to make turning easier. That just helped me crack my peg by applying too much torque. Is there any hope in using these adjustable peg shavers? I read in a previous post, Michael mentioned he set up his to act like a scraper rather than cutting. Could you elaborate on this a little? I could use the opposite edge of blade, and turn a burr on this. Is this how you do it Michael? I also read using alcohol to help soften the ebony pegs. Does this work? Thanks, John
  6. I'm just building my first violin, so I'm no expert, but for what it's worth, I'll tell you what I did. For ribs, I used the cold bending method. No heat at all. There's a very good description over at MIMF about this, thanks to Mr. Tucker if I'm not mistaken (it's been a while). The results for me were amazing. No cracking, no burning, no springback.... simply a very slow bending of a water soaked rib. For purfling, I didn't want to buy a bending iron, so I took an 8 inch long 1.5" (approx) diameter copper pipe, and heated it using a store bought propane (?) torch (the torch normally used for soldering copper pipes together). I directed the flame to the inside of the copper pipe with the purfling on the outside getting heated up, and managed to bend the purfling easily with a wooden stick. This was a little more difficult to get right. I did overheat the purfling a couple times. I'm sure a proper bending iron would be a dream to use, but my improvisation worked out nicely. John
  7. Thanks for the comments. Grajki - I'm willing to do the saddle either before or after the varnishing, but if you read the post above yours from troutabout, each of you have conflicting ideas of when to fit the saddle. Frankly, having never done it before, I could see pros and cons with each. I struggled making my own varnish, and have moved on to other things hoping to continue to progress on the violin. So for me, saving the varnish for later allows me to make continued progress as I figure out my varnish issues. Jacob - you're suggestion of saddle height being no less than 7.5mm total. Would this mean if my plate thickness was 4 mm, the dimension you're referring to would leave 3.5mm of saddle extension above the plate? Good tips though. Thanks, John
  8. Hello everyone. It's been forever since I last posted, and not surprisingly, my first violin has been reduced to an elegant paperweight. But I'm back...and keen to finish this violin. A couple questions about inserting the saddle. In C&J, it's not exactly clear, vertically speaking, how deep to cut the opening for the saddle. Is it cut to just the top of the lower block? Oddly enough, trying to find my answer in a search, there were some comments indicating the saddle is sometimes cut into the lower block, with many variations in between. Next question is in regard to shaping the saddle. I understand the outer edge is cut to follow the outer edge of the top. How about on top of the saddle, where the saddle edge is adjacent to top. Is the nut to be reduced such that the contours of the top (i.e. the edge fluting and edge relief), flow into the nut? I assume so, but I'm not totally sure. And to verify, the height above the top is 3mm? And one last thing. I decided to try and finish all the setup before finishing the varnishing. I've got a ground coat and shellac coat on. Is there any reason why I would want to finish the varnishing before cutting the opening for the saddle, ream the pegs, ream the endpin, and fit a bridge? Thanks, John
  9. I've got a 16" Delta variable speed scroll saw, and a cheap 8" Delta bandsaw. For years and years I only had the scroll saw and did lots of neat little projects (not violin related). But I got good at using the scroll saw. I found my scroll saw very useful for making lots of jigs and fixtures (often in the shape of a violin outline). With a good scroll saw, once you become talented and confident with it, you can dramatically reduce how much hand work you'll end up doing. I was able to cut my outlines in my fixtures to within 1/2 a mm or better. How's this for craziness....I cut my f-holes with my scroll saw. First I drilled the holes on a thicknessed plate, and then scroll sawed to join the holes. It was a bit nerve racking, especially when close to the thin wings. I would NOT do it again, as I'm sure I wasn't far off from breaking a wing off. My bandsaw is equally effective, but I find it's really only good for straight cuts. For example, you can zap off a million little blocks in no time flat for making the likes of little clamps. My true love is with the scroll saw (even though straight cuts are rather difficult.
  10. Right handed...but use the left hand for detail oriented tasks, and the right for strength and control, if that makes sense? So all this begs the question....was Strad a righty or lefty. There must be some way to tell... we need one of those experts, like on CSI with the signature and penmanship analyzers. It would be interesting to learn which way all the famous names out there batted.
  11. Thanks for the url that didn't work. I've edited it, and it works now. So - stupid question, how do I apply varnish thinner? Take less in my brush? Wipe off more back into the jar? Spread it out more when applying? Thin the varnish itself? I'll get myself a brush just like the one you've recommended, Michael. Thank-you, John
  12. Okay - now I've repeated my varnishing on test strips. But I first sanded down my first layer, and applied two coats of shellac. This has been sanded down as well. So the surfaces were quite smooth to work with. And I still get either fisheye or pinholing...or something else. More examples can be seen at: http://photobucket.com/albums/v698/dugganj/Varnish These blemishes can be felt as tiny volcanoes (sort of like brail). I was wondering if the type of brush I'm using is having some impact here. The type of brush I'm using is an Escoda 8247 series, which is made of natural hoghair bristle, for use with oil and acrylic paints. At www.currys.com, there's info there. I think there must be brushes that are specifically better for varnishing, like maybe the Escoda series 8348, which says it's ideal for oils, acrylics and varnishes. I think the brush is having some impact for two reasons. First, when I dunk the brush in the varnish and swipe it against the lip of the glass jar, all sorts of these tiny air bubbles come out. The second reason, is that as I apply oil varnish to the wood sample, these air bubbles (or whatever they are), appear right behind the brush as I'm brushing. I think I'm going to go buy an expensive brush, specifically for oil varnishes. BTW - any suggestions on what type of hair I would want to use?
  13. Yes - this is my first time doing any sort of finishing project. I've never varnished or shellaced before, which is why I'm so grateful to have experts here to respond to my ignorance. I had a suspicion about subsequent coats bringing transparency back to the finish, but I wasn't patient enough to try it. I'll give it a good rub down with turpentine to, hopefully, remove the oil. The surface is looking very nice and smooth now, I must say. I'm quite pleased. I've got my Darnton mastic varnish ready to go on next - only on test strips first in case something goes awry. Craig - how have your mastic experiments come along? John
  14. Aha! I got scared seeing the "fog", thinking that the grain will not show well through this surface. Now - to remove the linseed oil...will warm water with detergent be sufficient, or would a rubbing with denatured alcohol or turpentine do the trick? Or how about UV tanning to thoroughly dry what may remain of the linseed?
  15. I did some rubbing of my shellac test strips last night. I tried using water as a lubricant with a couple drops of dish detergent. On the maple, after wiping dry, using 600 grit wet/dry paper, there was a certain "fogging" of the surface. Sort of just a dullness and the brilliance of the grain was "lost". I might be making it out worse than it actually was, but I did turn to linseed oil as the lubricant for a try. I know I've read not to use linseed oil, or if I do, to make sure it all get's washed up before applying varnish layers....but....the rubbing using linseed really just matted the surface without stealing away from the vibrant grain colours underneath. So I've proceeded with linseed oil, followed with a washing with warm water and detergent to remove the linseed oil. Perhaps it wouldn't make any difference when subsequent varnish layers are applied overtop, eliminated this "fogging" I noticed. I'm finished with the shellacing, and onto the varnishing tests.
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