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Michael Darnton

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Everything posted by Michael Darnton

  1. I don't know if anyone has said this, but the first thing you should do is plane the angle of the front so that it is the same to both sides. Then you can plane in from either side keeping both sides identical back until you have the width. If you averaged the front correctly, both flat sides will be the same. Then you do not need to add wood to the sides--if the flat reaches past the eyes that's enough flat to mark, saw, and bore the holes. The whole side doesn't have to be flat. Also you can first average the front, then plane one side until you reach past the eye, then plane the other side until you reach thickness. That way you have a solid base for sawing, boring, etc. The template will need to be tilted a bit when drawing the first side, but not enough to matter. Not once have I ever had to add extra wood. just to square up a face. If you have enough to get the eyes, you have enough flat to work with for the rest of the operations. Learned this one working at WH Lee where they were making 100s of instruments a year and didn't have time for time-wasting nonsense.
  2. Contrary to what other advice will be, I ALWAYS straighten cello bridges and have never had a problem with them rewarping, BUT I alway figures out why it happened and correct that. If you don't it will happen again. Usually it is because of neglect, but often the problem is that the bridge naturally wants to stand at one angle and the player wants to pull it to another. So the cure is to refit the feet, or correct the player. Then it will never happen again, in my experience. I have done this many, many times successfully. Often the problem is that cellos absolutely invariably tend to collapse a little right away when they are strung up, then a little more over time, always tilting the bridge north. I have never seen a cello that did not do this. Set up people often don't realize this so the result is a bridge that wants to lean north a bit from where they set it, if they set it right at all. Then the player will pull it back where it should be and the result is what you have. You may not see it right away, so that's why setup people miss that. The feet do what they need to do to stay flat and then the top of the bridge bends to accommodate where the player wants it. In your case I think that's what happened and I am going to guess that you need to recut the feet so that it is leaning "back" more. Straightening: fold a paper towel to about 2.5x2.5 inches, soak it wet, put it on the plate in your microwave, put the bridge concave down on the towel, and nuke it in 15 second increments. You can correct local warpages by where you place the towel/water. Go for an over straightening, then stand the bridge up and nuke it in 10 sec increments until it is dry. Nearly dry--if you go too far you will burn the bridge, and that starts on the inside where you can't see it and it's too late. If the bridge can't be fixed by steaming, you will have to bring in dry heat, like the bottom of an iron skillet, and bend/set it with dry heat. That's harder. Straightening is easy, but correcting the cut of the feet is hard. You probably realize that you may not have the chops for that and if so should rely on a professional.
  3. Since there's no official organization doing the naming, It can be just as easy as naming one after the current owner, so most might have a name, but will the name stick? Strads, del Gesus, many Amatis, some Guads, some Bergonzis, have relatively famous owner names attached or in the case of Strads, perhaps some attribute (and Paganini's "Cannone"), then naming falls off rapidly below that. Every violin you ever owned might become an ex-Bress if you become famous enough. :-)
  4. He can, but I think that the people who have responded negatively have pretty much the same problem as with the bridge jig: if you just learn to do the job right, the easy way, it will be faster and better than using a crutch. I can freshen up my finger plane blade and be back in business while you are still looking for your jig. Consequently, because it is easy I bet we use sharper tools a higher percentage of the time that we are working, if you count time as use plus sharpening. If you want to start this thread all over, start talking about whiz-bang "easy" post setters.
  5. I heard this one 40+ years ago, so it predates the internet: Q/ How many luthiers does it take to change a lightbulb? A/ Just one, but it's going to take him six months to make all of the jigs.
  6. Another vote for fingers. Why complicate something that is very easy? The key is a good hollow ground which gives a platform to guide honing. Then put the main pressure fingernail/tip directly over the bevel and only use the other hand for guidance.
  7. It is the handpiece of a Foredom flexible shaft [whoops, thanks] tool.
  8. I don't know the truth of this bit of history, but supposedly Pernambuco was shipped over as ballast in boats from the New World, as dye wood. The French bow makers could go down to the docks and pick from mountains of the stuff what they wanted to use, with no competition from any other trade (the dyers certainly didn't care about grain). Given that, what they used was by their own definition "good wood". I doubt they give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks about that. If you don't like what they used, perhaps YOUR opinion is the problem.
  9. @Jedidjah de Vries Bob Bein liked to say that one couldn't become an expert without risking one's own money in the process. It's very different when one is unaccountable in his speculations. That and the necessity of seeing many thousands of violins to become an expert is why there are so few experts. Another thing Bob said to me was when I was shooting pix of shop violins for the archive and selling copies to people in the workshop: it was OK with him because he was fine with anyone having access to information that would improve their ability, but he also noted that very few would be able to benefit from that because there was a lot more to it than simple access. It took a lot of work and time, a good memory, good powers of observation, and a knack. He used to spend a lot of time spreading photos of single makers out on the floor trying to sort them out and also trying to figure out if there were ones that didn't belong in the pile. He really never rested in his education. In short, it's not a path that very many can take and it's a lot of hard work; that's why there aren't many experts. It's generally known that the best Wurlitzer certs are from the couple of years when Rembert W, Sacconi and Charles Beare were all in the shop. I saw watching a Beatles documentary last night that they had an agreement that anything they did all four had to agree on. In our shop, to certify something all three of us have to agree. When we disagree we battle it out with facts, and we all bring something different to the table. Also needless to say it but we risk our own money and have seen thousands of violins of the class we deal in. [Yeah, yeah. As the Damon Runyon almost said (edited for clarity) "He that tooteth not his own horn, that same horn, it shall not be tooted."] I think there's probably just a handful of shops in the US that have the necessary opportunity and inclination. Then there are layers beyond that. @Strad O Various Jr. That's true, but there are a lot of people who can know when they are looking at pictures of a not-a-Strad. Pictures can also give a good idea in which direction to narrow the search.
  10. Blow up of OP's purfling cutter blades. He's not cutting; He's plowing. Gotta sharpen those things!
  11. When one is at the point of uncertainty whether a button should be on the center seam and "should it be in the middle?", finding sleepers is still a lifetime away. I wish there were more people who wanted to work to hone their eye, just to be able to see what they were looking at instead of assuming they already knew everything about everything! It would be a better world.
  12. It would be interesting to know how this situation has been resolved. Certainly David Hill would have reissued a cert if asked, and Peter B would have written one if asked if he believed the instrument was real, so I'm assuming everything's done and settled and this is all old news. Those particular certs mean a whole lot more than some museum's comments about cochineal (give me five minutes with your Roth and I can make sure it's got cochineal on it for a museum to find).
  13. This works fine: Cheap and easy. I prefer this one: https://darntonviolins.com/purfling-machine-eight-views/
  14. The way his blades are my way won't work, I just noticed. I would flip them to the other end and sharpen with one bevel. Sorry for miss- observing!
  15. The blades needed to be set to the width of the purfling you were using by turning them flat to flat and shimming them apart to the right width. Now you need to find whatever fits. Measure and go by that.
  16. OK, strangely, the center seam is off center, the button more in the middle. I have never seen that. Do you own one or both of these cellos?
  17. @Al CramerYes, the button is weird. With the distortion it is hard to know if the centerline or the button is the off center one. No, thats not a thing; someone had too much to drink before plotting that out.
  18. @martin swan No. Usually they look like scraps gathered off the floor. One years ago was eight pieces, all different. I would think that if you were going to take the care to find a matching piece (from the other side of the same log?) you'd have the resources to use a normal top, right?
  19. http://darntonviolins.com/prime-choice-modern-makers-think-they-need-the/ https://darntonviolins.com/wood-works-another-slab-cut-cello-top/ 250 years and just a couple of unimportant small cracks. The slab tops I have seen have been absurdly intact for their age.
  20. Interesting for me because I never see violins that bad, so I don't know much about them. Someone should write a book. . . . one that just doesn't say "Mittenwald" every single time.
  21. Who besides J-G brings both ribs right out to the dead end of flat ended corners without any mitering?
  22. For the record I did not say all pigments do this, I said that most painters' pigments have been chosen for their monochrome behavior. I use a modern pigment myself, but it is one of very few that is suitable. I have not had the results I am looking for by mixing pigments, though. Perhaps our goals are different.
  23. There's actually a huge reason to avoid modern colorants and most painters' colors, and that is because they are almost always specifically chosen or compounded to give a lighter version of the same color when used thin, very simple colors rather than complex. One characteristic of many of the colors that violin makers in the golden period used is that they can be seen to be yellow when thin and go through orange and dark orange-brown tending towards reddish and then move towards black as they get thicker. Modern colors start, for instance, as pink and when used thicker turn to opaque paint of some relatively light color. Often you can see this in the art store where they will put a dab of the color on a board and rub it out to thin, showing both the mass and wash colors the buyer can expect. Most stains act similarly. This is a fundamental difference between painting and varnishing. But once in a while you can find a painter's color that does what you want. You can achieve similar but not identical results by layering starting with one color and building through the changes you want to see, but the difference is still subtly visible to someone who's looking. There's a certain amount of this happening with the golden ground (that someone above basically claimed doesn't exist :-) interacting with the colored over varnish, but that's not the whole story. Another problem with looking at varnish is simultaneous color contrast (look it up--it's beautifully complex) which happens in the greyscale as well (that "white" you see under a new chip probably isn't as bare-assed white as you think it is). (I'll give you this one: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/409616528591130544/ ) Old violins are incredibly subtle. By the way, the two earliest examples I have seen of a "red" Amati and a "red" Strad violate what I laid down above--both were simple colors, a red tending towards black with very little yellow component--and I have only seen a single example of each. When each maker comes back with a red color later it's quite a bit more interesting and complex, so you might think that they got it right away and found that first effort less than satisfactory. ("Well, that was interesting--I guess we won't be doing that again!")
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