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Andrew tkinson

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    Craft history, String instrument making and trying to have fun and learn stuff by combining these two interests.

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  1. I forgot to mention that before making a practice carving I tried to get a bit of an idea of things by making a few Lion heads in plasticine. I made some wooden modelling tools out of scraps of wood. I think Don's snake and jessupe's dragons are great. I wonder if you could make a round head lighter in weight by following jessupe's example and somehow making the Godzilla head hollow? Or maybe you could make the pegbox as normal but without the scroll, carve the head in a lighter wood and glue it into place? Maybe it would be a bit of fun to make a violin with a couple of detachable heads which could be changed to suit either the music or how the player was feeling?
  2. I hope I will be forgiven for posting this as it is not really violin related, but this series of three short films are amongst my favourite things on youtube. I am perhaps being fanciful but think that watching these gives me a view into the past which may show something of the speed and dexterity of, if not the fine work of violin makers of the past, at least the work of the people who perhaps did the initial preparation work and roughing out in a workshop without bandsaws and pillar drills? The old clogmaker's accuracy when using his axe and adze are to me almost super human. The spoon maker produces an everyday but beautiful object using a minimum of tools. The furniture makers make their chair to a traditional pattern without any drawings, I particularly like the multi bladed square/guage used to mark all the important measurement on the chair, the two man plane for heavy work etc etc and finally the cart piled up with finshed products winding its way to market. If nothing else, these films are interesting because they offer a glimpse into the past and the images are nice and clear considering they seem to have been made about a hundred years ago. I think they were filmed to document traditional crafts as part of an exhibition/ celebration of Swedish industies etc, if anyone has any more information on them I would be very interested. If anyone else has any favourite craft/woodworking videos perhaps they could post them below?
  3. Dogzilla? I admit I am no expert but agree with Don that a model Godzilla head will be a great help. This year I decided to try to make a "Lion" type of violin head and I only had a photograph to copy from. So, I sketched this, then traced it and tried to get the shape into my head. I then carved a practice head in Limewood which turned out looking a bit like Hogarth's Pug interbred with a Lion but I now had a model. I then made two more models in Sycamore to try to refine my Lion and to work out the head angle and size to allow reasonable access for stringing the upper peg. Here is a picture of my three practice heads and the actual head carved on the neck at the right I think I should have made him a little smaller as he seems a little heavier than a normal scroll but am still pleased with his amused, resigned look. If you want to have a similar expression on your face and have some time to waste, I have put my full amateur lion head carving rigmarole on the Contemporary Maker's Gallery in my post. Maybe looking at my mistakes will help preventing you mixing up your letters and like me ending up with a "Dogziilla"?
  4. Hello, thank you for your interest, I am really pleased you are enjoying my wood and violinmaking ramblings. After being furloughed for about a year, I started back at work in April. I only work part time but my woodworking activities have been slowed down a bit. I have to admit it is good to be forced to get out of my own little world and meet people regularly again! Here my first violin can be seen, still unvarnished, hanging in my kitchen window looking out at my back garden. My Amarylis plants are in full flower in the last day of May. Occasionally small drops of nectar drip out of the flowers onto the leaves and I can't resist having a taste! One morning when cycling to work, part of my route goes next to the river Tyne, I saw something on the path and thought "Oh no! is that a big dog, I hope it doesn't chase me!" As I got nearer I saw there were two small deer (roe deer?) and I stopped and got my little camera out of my bag and just got a photo of one of them leaping away. Newcastle city centre is not far from here so I was quite surprised to see them, I suppose I would never have seen them if I hadn't been back at work! Finally by the middle of June I was back in my workshop doing some violin stuff. Here I am planing a soundboard joint. I had tried using my shooting board and was having a lot of trouble, probably because I hadn't planed the faces of the wood flat and my shooting board is not very flat so the wood kept wobbiling a little as the plane travelled along the joint face. I decided to hold the wood on top of my small experimental bench top using the pegs and wedges. This worked well enough and after a while I was ready to glue my soundboards I put some old newspaper over the peg arrangement, to keep glue off things, then wedged the lower half securely to the benchtop before applying the hot glue and rubbing the joint. Here is another view of the freshly glued soundboard showing the wedge - the pegs are under the newspaper Here I have planed across the joints so I could better see how good or bad they were. I bought my soundboards from a bargain box, the soundbard on the left was cheap as the wedge had been split by the saw not flat and straight but in a very wavy line as can be seen where I have planed the joint roughly flat. The joints seem ok and not as bad as they appear in this picture The other soundboard was a 'bargain' as it had some cracks on the edges and a bit of a knot on the surface. Here I am sawing off the cracked edges and hoping the cracks were not too deep! Hopefully I've been lucky here is the cracked edge next to where it was sawn off and it doesn't appear to have penetrated into the remaining wood -hopefully. I have learned that saving money by buying cheaper wood is usually a risk not worth taking- but I still can't resist the bargain box! The jointed soundboards along with the saved pieces sawn from their edges When returning from work a few months ago I had noticed an ash tree had been felled near a public footpath and cut up and left to decay in the corner of a small field. Here the hollow stumps can be seen. A couple of months later the logs were still lying in the field so I reasoned that they had been left to rot. Ash is a wood that is good for tool handles so I thought I would rescue a small log to use for this purpose. The log was at the bottom of a steep hill so I decided it would be easier to carry in two trips so I took a pair of small axes, a mallet and some wooden wedges to split it in two. Here I am using my home grown mallet made from a small log with a side branch, specially selected and kept from when I pruned the trees in my garden this winter The splitting tools and the log split and ready to go. Its heart is dark but the wood seems sound, the grain is wide, quick grown, which in ash seems to give wood which is more dense than slow grown wood, better for tool handles! Here is the steep path I had to carry the log up. I counted the steps, 962, nearly 5/8 of a mile up hill to my house and one half log was 3 stones (42 pounds) and the larger piece 4 stones 7 pounds ( 63 pounds) as weighed on my bathroom scales. After I had got my breath back and cooled off I split the log a bit more into large handlish sized sections and I have left it in the shade to dry a bit. The big pieces could be used for lute ribs? Back in the workshop. Here I am planing the lower surfaces of the soundboards flat. Planing across the grain and testing with a wooden straight edge I put the roughly flattened soundboards to one side and turned once again to my two violins. I had made the ribs quite a bit too deep so started to bring them nearer the finished depth. Here I am using a small homemade plane I made a small guage, from sycamore scraps, to mark the rib height roughly to guide me and save messing about with a ruler too much at this stage Here it is in action Even though my ribs are mainly quite plain I had to take care when trimming them as the grain direction varies quite a lot in some parts Here I am chiselling away the protruding parts of the wedges at the neck rib joint The blockless violin. ribs trimmed roughly to height and ready to have linings fitted The other violin has blocks, which for some reason I left quite a bit higher than the proposed finished height. I decided to leave them unshaped for now, so any splitting off at the back that could accidentally occur would not matter too much and to further help avoid the splitting that might occur during planing to height I chiselled bevels along their unsupported corners Here I am chiselling away some of the excess corner block height before planing taking care not to damage the ribs I was not aiming for finished height but to get the ribs nearly there, to be trimmed to proper height after gluing the linings in place. Here I am roughly checking the blocks for flatness to try to avoid 'under cutting' their gluing surfaces After trimming the ribs to just over final height it was time to prepare some linings. Here I am sawing up a small section of willow that I hoped would make enough lining strips for the two violins After rough sawing. The wood was just long enough to get the upper and lower bout linings from a single strip I first planed the wood to lining depth, planing one face flat then marking the depth with my well used old marking guage Then I planed the both edges square and smooth ready to saw off strips of lining Here I am sawing off the planed edges to get lining strips after, of course, marking their thickness with the marking guage The tenon saw is an old one that, many years ago, I filed the teeth in a 'rip' style to use for hand cutting thin strips of wood/ veneer such as this. Here is a closeup of my roughly filed rip tenon saw teeth. It works quite well, no bandsaw required! I then planed the strips down to the guaged line to finish the piece of lining I then thought as the wood got narrower it would be impossible to hold and I needed all the lining strips I could possibly get out of my small piece of willow. I decided to mark the strips a bit over thickness and saw them all out at once and plane both sides after sawing so I could hold the wood reasonably easily and use it all up. I sawed all the strips from one end first, turned the wood around and then sawed carefully from the other end. I held the wood on top of the bench with my right hand, first moistening the undersurface a little to help it not slip around on the bench and sawed carefully to avoid the hand holding the wood! The sawn strips I then planed these both sides to a thickness of around 2mm Here are the finished lining strips The Lionhed/blockless violin seen here used as a convenient 'basket' when I carried my tools and lining strips down to the kitchen ready for bening my linings. I also needed the violin handy to compare the bent strips with its curves to get the lengths and curvature of the bends correct to avoid wasting my precious few prepared strips of willow My stove-top heated bending iron (that is why I have moved down to the kitchen!) in action The strips ready to be taken upstairs for gluing in the 'violinbasket' Here I am using my homemade lining peg clamps to help test the fit of the lining strips as I trim them to fit. I pegged all of the strips in place dry then when I was ready to glue I removed the pegs on one section glued and pegged it then moved around to the next section until all six pieces were glued and clamped The peg are a tight fit so I use a small wedge of wood to pre-open the peg to make it easier to fit over the rib and lining. The wedge is pulled out when the clamp is in the right place I took the linings right into the corners on this blockless violin. The linen tape I had already glued in the corners got in the way of the lining a little here, I just glued and pegged the lining on top of the linen at these places Linings glued and clamped After glue has set and pegs removed This brings me up to 12th of July. I've got a few more pictures but am worried I'll delete all this typing I've done like I've done twice before. Its been over a year now on these two violins, I hope it is still of interest to people
  5. This is a great video, I wish I lived near a fiddle shop like that and with such a generous friendly owner.
  6. Hello Tango, I found the mouth in my homemade plane was becoming wide. Here are a couple of pictures I took when i remouthed it last year. I used a piece of beech, as my plane is beech, and tried to orient the grain to match the plane body so they would hopefully shrink/move at the same rates. Here the new mouth wood is ready to be glued Here I have glued it and clamped it into place Here it is after planing flat, ready to use This shape of mouth 'patch' seems popular here in England. I am sure you will easily find good advice on how to do this in the internet or in old joinery books
  7. Now the first neck was in place it was time to start on the ribs. I tried to refine the curve of the rib channel to help me achieve the long corners with large gluing area needed for a violin without corner blocks. Unfortunately I had chosen an outline with very short corners for this construction method so I was to struggle quite a bit! I measured the rib lengths using a piece of string, making sure there was enough for the long corners Here the ribs are cut and marked up ready to bend Heating my bending irons. I had discovered that the curve at the corners, contary to what I had thought as they are so short - but obviously these are two separate features, corner length and curvature - was too tight for my old bending iron so I found a bar, amongst my hoard of found metal, of a suitably smaller diameter to use at the corners. The two bending irons and the ribs bent. I was soon to learn that I should have taken a lot more care with bending the corners and tried to keep the section just after the corners straighter etc etc I then used a scraper to shape the bottom edges of the bent ribs to fit into the shallow sloping rib channel I had made on the back, taking care to preserve the full width of the outside surface. Gluing the upper ribs with my homemade clamps, everything is going ok up to now! My rib troubles began when I started on the c bouts. I had trouble keeping the ribs in the back channel while bringing the corners together. I realised then that the curve of the back channel/groove at the corners was not helping me achieve the long corners and corresponding good gluing surface I needed. I hadn't helped myself by not taking enough care with the corner bends and my small wooden pegs were not gripping the corners strongly enough! I carried on though hoping it might be ok I then glued the bottom rib and used these larger pegs and wedges to clamp the rib against the bottom block Here the ribs are all in place but the corners were far from vertical being splayed outwards by an amount unacceptable to even me! I opened the corner joints with a pallet knife and then struggled to rectify things. I will not go into details on the desperate measures I first tried in haste but a nail can be seen in the picture below! (Shudder!) After this failed I opened the corners for a second time and thought a little. I used hot water and a brush to try to soften the rib ends a little and then used my small pegs again but this time i dampened their ends a little with water to help increase their grip. This seemed to work and I pushed them onto the corners and brought them together more than I had done previously. They seemed acceptable, third time lucky? The dampened ends of the pegs can just be seen in the photo below Now I cut some strips of linen, to be glued in to reinforce the rib to back and corner joints. I used undyed Irish linen bought from e-bay Here the strips are laid out ready for gluing I started with the dreaded corners! The glue brush can be used to push the material into the corner and a pallette knife can be used to assist if needed All the linen in place. Unfortunately the moisture from the glue on the linen caused the corners to start to open. I quickly applied the pre dampened small pegs again to attempt to counteract this After my struggles with the first back and ribs I hoped my other 'built on the back' violin would be a little less trouble. This one was to have corner blocks and be without the back rib channels. I made card templates for the upper and lower corner blocks by first tracing around the purfling on the back. I made the blocks this oversized shape rather than the more usual triangularish shape as it will be much easier to clamp the ribs to these squarish blocks. I will carefully chisel them to a more usual shape once the ribs are securely fixed to them. I then took a bit of willow and split out some pieces for the blocks To help keep the blocks in the right position during gluing I glued some small pieces of spruce to the back. I also 'sized' the flattened ends of my roughly shaped corner blocks while the glue pot was on the go Here I am pressing a bent piece of scrap rib into the curves on the block as I shape it to help me test it and see if its shape and curvature is ok The small temporarily fixed spruce blocks have been trimmed with a chisel and it can be seen here how they will help keep the corner block in the correct position during gluing I decided to use my iron weights again to act as a clamp when gluing the corner blocks as they would apply a pressure without tending to move the block out of proper position. I planned to glue the first block, apply the weight and then slowly eat a chocolate biscuit (Cookey?) and sip my instant coffee to pleasantly pass the few minutes needed for the glue to have set sufficiently to allow me to safely remove the weight to then glue and clamp the next block. There are four blocks so four biscuits are necessary. I don't know if the makers of old used this "Biscuit method", they may have used different foods and wine instead of coffee or they may have used clamps or had more than one weight to hand? The first block glued and clamped. My glasses seem to be looking on disapprovingly! I warmed the blocks thoroughly to try to keep the glue sufficiently liquid long enough to help the relatively small weight squeeze the joint nicely together The second pair of blocks with the weights in place The blocks glued I need now to glue the ribs to the blocks and back. After much thought and many small sketches of potential clamping devices I thought I would try making some small shaped clamping blocks which to use with my homemade pallet wood closing clamps. I used some of the waste pieces I saved from when I made the clamps. I made four of these shaped blocks Here a clamp and block are being tested on a corner block with a piece of scrap rib and I was pleased to find they worked quite well! I then used my alignment stick and trusty weights to glue the neck to this back When I took the weights off to my horror I found my alignment stick had betrayed me! The neck was quite significantly out of line. I had no alternative but to remove the neck so I then applied hot water with a brush In conjunction with a large pallette knife warmed in hot water Luckily, it came off reasonably easily! I checked and the pins of my alignment stick were not actually in line. I removed the centre pin and hammered a small plug of hard wood into the hole I used a fine awl to make a new, better aligned hole and used some pliers to push the centre pin into the new hole I used my long steel rule and checked and the pins now line up much better. I also replaced the cycle spoke/removable upper pin with thicker pin - a sharpened nai -l as it was a bit loose and wobbly in its hole. If I use this system again I will use a harder wood for the stick and take a lot more care and check it for alignment, carefully, each time, before using it. Here I am getting ready to re-glue the neck and am warming the neck joint surfaces while the glue heats up. I applied a little water to the outside of the back to try to counteract the distortion in the back that the moisture from the glue seemed to cause the previous time I glued the neck to the back I also used wedges to try to apply a little force to keep the joint well closed My improvements to the alignment stick seemed to have worked and the neck is lined up acceptably with the bottom block this time Starting to bend the ribs Gluing the c-bouts, the clamps worked quite well After gluing the rib to the block I applied a little glue between the rib and back and then used my weight and piece of wood resting on both c-bouts to apply clamping pressure The c-bouts glued and clamped I then trimmed off the excess wood from the c-bout ends I used a curved inside ground gouge to carefully trim the rib end ready for the upper and lower ribs. Here I am using a piece of scrap bent rib to check things Small temporary glue blocks are glued on which are trimmed to size to assist in keeping the ribs on the outline. Here the bent upper and lower ribs can be seen at the right The rest of the ribs glued and clamped to the blocks and to the back. Here the larger peg clamp and wedge arrangement can be seen clamping the lower rib to the end block Here the clamps have been removed and everything went reasonably well Now for the bit i've been looking forward to. Instead of linings or linen tape I wanted to try using small glue blocks like those I have seen in a violin on this site in a post by Mr.Jacob Saunders. These remind me of the 'tentellones' used in Spanish guitar construction along with the slipper foot or integral neck block arrangement so seem very appropriate for a violin with this type of neck joint. Here I have taken an offcut from the wood I am going to use for the top of this violin and am planing it down to about 2mm thick I planed the edge flat and reasonably square and then used a cutting guage to cut strips off my planed spruce about 3/16 of an inch wide I then used my bending iron to put a bit of a bend in the strips so it would conform to the curves of the ribs better than if totally straight. it didn't bend very well but I thought it was still ok to use I then cut a bevel on the strips that were to be used on the concave inside curves of upper and lower ribs I made a pencil mark 3/8 of an inch from the edge of a piece of scrap wood to use to conveniently give me the length of the tentellone or glue blocks me while I shaped them. First making a bevel on the free end then using the pencil mark as a guide to make a vertical chisel cut to mark the length. I made them 3/16" by 3/8" as the violin tentellones I had seen appeared about twice as long as they were high - they are quite different in shape to guitar tentellones. Then I made angled cuts down to this 3/8" mark to to form the bevel on this end before the tentellone is cut free For the convex internal curve of the C-bouts I cut the bevel on the outside of the curved spruce strip and made the tentellones as above. As I made them I marked the small wood pieces with a letter U. C or L to indicate which rib area they were to be used on so I wouldn't mix up the internally and externally curved small pieces during the gluing operation. Here they all are arranged ready for gluing I placed the small piece next to where it was to be glued then applied a little warm glue with a small brush I then turned it over with my forefinger and pressed it firmly into position, holding it until the glue took hold I also used a leftover piece of spruce strip to apply pressure on the blocks aiming to press them onto the ribs and back. I made enough of the little blocks so the spacing between them was a bit less than their length and then spaced them by eye when gluing The lower tentellones/glue blocks being glued All the blocks glued, I made the spacing of c-bout ones closer than the others. I was quite pleased with the overall effect I then needed to trim the ends of the ribs on both of the violins. Diagonal chisel cuts seemed less risky for initial cuts, I tried my knife and found it seemed to put a lot of force on the corner joints Trimming the corners of the blockless violin Here is one of the better corners of my corner blockless violin. Both ribs brought to a point in the middle. This can hopefully be refined later maybe with a scraper? The problems I had in bringing the corners together can be seen here on this, again one of the better corners of the cornerblockless violin. The ends of the rib channels can be seen in the corner of the back. I would take more care with the outline, the cutting of the rib channel and the bending of the corners and try to devise a better clamping method if I ever try this construction method again. Here are pictures of the violin neck/back/rib assemblies. First, the ribs set in back,no cornerblock,linen tape violin. It feels quite strong, the linen seems to add a lot of strength and is still flexible but I worry about my very short corner joint gluing surfaces Then the built on blocks on the back and small glueblock/tentellone type violin. This has gone quite well, the neck alignment was rectified and the structure seems ok. I like the look of the small glue blocks Both together I have learned quite a lot from my many mistakes and hopefully will be less likely to make them again but I make no promises! I wonder what mistakes I will enjoy making next?
  8. Hello Andreas, thanks for looking at and commenting on my post. One advantage of not being a trained professional maker is that I can experiment, 'waste' time on fantasies and not worry about having to sell things. I am in awe at the work that you and others post on this site and am really pleased that an imposter like me can get involved in a small way.
  9. Hello, thanks for your comment, I am also looking forward to getting strings on these. I wonder if the integral neck blocks will affect the sound? I am especially curious how the violin with no corner blocks and linen tape reinforcement will sound. Sadly I chose to use this construction method on an outline with very short corners - hopefully it stays together long enough for me to take it out to the pub and sit quietly in the corner unable to join in when folk sessions resume again?
  10. I make no claim to be any kind of expert but I agree with Violadamore, if the bow is to be thrown away it seems worth a try super gluing it to keep it going. I think the superglue needs to be 'fresh' or in date as old glue can be weak - you could test it by gluing some scraps together? In 2002 or 3, I received an inexpensive bow through the post and the head had snapped off in transit so rather than throw it away I used super glue to fix it and it has remained in place and useable since then. I may be wrong but if something is "too cheap to repair but too good to throw away" then a self repair seems to make sense especially for someone like me playing for fun to keep as a spare. Take care though aligning things when gluing. A few years ago I was visiting my brother, who lives at the opposite end of the country, and our evening of bad but enjoyable violin playing was spoiled a little when I heard a sharp crack as he sat on his inexpensive, but favourite, bow. The next day I bought some superglue and was a little careless with alignment when I glued the bow. It is still together and useable but has a bit of an extra bend off to the side now. I learned from this that a very small misalignment at the joining surfaces can show up as a quite noticeble bend at the tip. I think he is still using the bow though so the joint has lasted for about four years.
  11. You win a plain ticket to the beech, first class!
  12. Hello, thanks for the comments and further information. I have to admit my enthusiasm surpasses my violin knowledge. Being around 6ft 4" I bump my head on the lid of the "Standardization dumpster" each time I try to climb out, causing me to fall back in so I have ended up making my home there!
  13. Hello, thank you for being generous with these great resources. I look forward to learning from and making use of them on my violin number four and others. Being quite a tall person, I like the idea of a large violin such as the Cannone. Perhaps my first, large cornered violin could be named the Cornerone?
  14. I hope you don't mind me joining in this outline/ template discussion At the moment I am making my 2nd and third violins and because my main interest is in trying to experiment with the 'mechanics', making and tools - in a sort of historicalish fashion - I have unfortunately neglected the design aspects a bit. I am learning, at the moment, that getting the outline curves right would have meant my rib bending would be easier! the curves I sketched out are in places perhaps too tight even though they didn't look so to my untutored eyes. On my first violin I ended up with a violin with long corners as I just cut the curves on my cornerblocks so they looked right to me. Here it is in its big cornered glory just after I first tuned it up, it sounds good, to my ears, despite its eccentric looks I am working on my own which can be good in that it allows me to experiment but I definitely would benefit from having a friendly "Meister" to steer me away from some of my simple and avoidable errors! Anyway I have hopefully learned from these things that a good outline isn't just beautiful it is also practical, so for violin number 4 I will definitely take more time over design and lay a good foundation for my making in a well thought out outline.
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