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Mike Atkins

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    Elkhorn, WI

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  1. It has been ages since I've posted anything here... time flies when you have responsibilities, like owning a home and having to make improvements and repairs. My bench is still messy, and as I've been working on other projects around the house the workshop has become a place for storage, making it even more difficult to get back into woodworking. I also have several other woodworking projects in the way of getting back to the violins. In truth, I was working on the purfling for the first violin and the channel I cut was just slightly too narrow... and I've really been struggling with whether to remove wood from the purfling to fix it, or whether to try and widen the channel. I feel like I was starting to get the hang of understanding things a bit when it came time for me to venture off into other projects. Hopefully all isn't lost and I will, someday soon, be able to get back at violin building. One project I did get done was building a bow (hunting bow) for the deer hunting season. A sinew/snakeskin backed hickory flatbow with deer antler tips. It shoots 55 lbs @ 27". I also made a dozen or so ash arrows, now to get out in the yard and practice, then into the woods and find a deer!
  2. Thanks for the additional info. I did get them sharpened up pretty well... or as well as I could and they definitely worked much better than all the other things I've tried. I didn't get the perfect shape like yours, but as close as I could. I don't have a grinding wheel but I do have a 300grit diamond stone which is pretty good for re-shaping blades. I still could do better, but I'm really liking it so far.
  3. So I'm working on the purfling now... I have a few tools for this, but I'm certain that many tools would work just fine if I really knew what I was doing. The first "A" back I used a tool with cutters, though the metal for the cutters is so thin that it seems to flex with any real pressure tightening them and also a bit when cutting. Also the part that holds the blades is so long that the arching gets in the way at the C-bouts... not good. Another tool I have just has pointed scribes, with care I can scribe and then cut in after with a knife. This seems like it works a little better but I have a long way to go to get better at it. Finally, I'm taking some of the extra scribes I have and trying to sharpen them similar to what Mr. Sora does, though sharpening such tiny blades is really proving difficult for me. Hopefully I get things all figured out for the third violin, which I still need to cut the outlines for... The tool on the bottom I'm not in love with, though technically I would imagine if I learned how to use it well it might work a bit better than the others.
  4. Your videos really help put information I've read about violin construction into perspective. The time and dedication and attention you give to every detail also helps encourage me to take my time and work carefully. Another thing that's obvious is how sharp your tools are, often I'll be working and don't stop to take those few all important minutes to renew the edges of my tools and that's usually when things start getting messy. Seeing your work really helps encourage me to do those little things that make all the difference no matter what I'm making. Particularly when I see the beautiful instruments that you make. Very appreciative of your work and the time you've taken to offer it to others.
  5. My point exactly. I agree. Even if that teaching is done via YouTube.
  6. Skewing the plane is a good tip. This looks a lot like my shop floor some days.
  7. Impressive words for what you're dealing with. I pray you are doing well.
  8. I recently switched from water stones to diamond stones... particularly for the curved tools that rip up water stones. The diamond stones take quite a bit to break in. At the start my 300 grit was acting more like 80 grit, 600 grit acted like 200 grit, 1200 grit more like 600 grit. I would take some time working on kitchen knives or something to wear them in before using them on expensive tool blades. Plus I would recommend making a strop to finish like Paul Sellers too. Just my experience.
  9. It does indeed... but at the same time this is fun, and enjoyable work.
  10. Unfortunately I don't have a toothed blade or a scraper plane, perhaps I should invest in them or get better at sharpening scrapers, which is another challenge I'm working on.
  11. The rib stock I've had a bit of a struggle with, I have used primarily my block plane like you say but it seems one way or another I always have to work against the grain... on one end or another and even finely set I get tear out to a degree. So I've had to finish with sanding blocks and scrapers. I'm sure I have a long way to go to get better at every aspect of violin making.
  12. I'm certain based on your reputation, that you're a very highly skilled luthier and no doubt even a highly skilled woodworker (those two things are not the same as you seemed to suggest from what I understood). I don't imagine that reputation comes from your ability to criticize others though. Particularly when those others are highly accomplished and offer up their knowledge for free to watchers of their videos, with information perfectly relevant to this particular discussion. Whether it's successful for them is hardly relevant in assessing their skill or the value of their content. Even if you're the greatest luthier & woodworker in the world, if you're not sharing your knowledge it's not really super helpful to anyone but you, and perhaps you're even a better woodworker than Mr. Sellers, but that doesn't make his insight any less valuable to the person asking these questions or his skill any less valuable either to those seeking insight. Making YouTube videos is probably not that far removed from taking time to teach apprentices. I don't think you could say a violin maker who takes his time teaching apprentices isn't generally a good maker, just like taking time to make videos doesn't automatically mean he's a mediocre woodworker. And often successful videos are successful because they're offering something of value. This was my point, your suggestion that he "ain't much" seemed pretty... unreasonable to me and not based on any real familiarity with Mr. Sellers' books, videos or work.
  13. Certainly I would agree that violin making is a different level of woodworking. The topic of this thread is pretty basic woodworking stuff and not really super unique to violin making. Paul Sellers has well over 50 years of experience as a master level woodworker with hand tools, who is apparently in his retirement years doing what he can to share his knowledge of woodworking with anyone who is interested. To say "he ain't much" seems a pretty harsh criticism, a very broad generalization, and random claim simply by making assumptions about how one spends their time indicating their capability. I think you might have difficulty supporting that statement with any legitimate criticism. Conflating woodworking and instrument making isn't exactly correct either. Not all instrument makers are necessarily great woodworkers, and not all woodworkers could necessarily make good instruments. And skill in either isn't dependent solely on what can be accomplished with a plane – his skill with a wide variety of tools I believe is pretty indisputable. The fact that he offers his knowledge and experience for free, like Mr. Sora is something that should be applauded IMO, rather than looked down upon.
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