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Progress pix

Michael Darnton

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Wow, very cool Michael.

A couple comments.

1) It doesn't look like you much care which way the grain is oriented on your corner blocks. Any comment?

2) Wow, very beautiful wood for the back, and by the darkness that remains, apparently quite old. How old is that wood? How do you hold down the wood while planing the back like that? I'd like to start using the plane to flatten my next wood plate, rather than rubbing it over some sandpaper glued to a granite plate.

3) I learned a ton just by looking at the pile of shavings you left during scraping. My shavings look partially like that but mixed in with much finer dust indicating that my scraper is not sharp enough. Yes, I suck so much I can learn a ton just by looking at a pile of Michael Darnton's shavings. Hahahah!

4) I need to get me a toothed plane blade like that. It would really simplify a lot. So far I'm hating thinning ribs.

What technique do you use to avoid overthinning the edges, or contrariwise, leaving the central region of the rib too think? Using a scraper with what I thought was the same technique I can see in your hands, my edges thin faster than the center.

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Good idea Michael and very nice pics,i suppose that comes with being a photographer.Scraping is one of my pet hates,

Is this your shim stock and do you sharpen both edges/sides or just at a 45 degree angle on one side.

I think my problem is the steel im using , it never hold a edge long enough to take proper shavings.Any tips?

What steel is this?

Does anyone know if old Japanese replacable saw blades are suitable.(the very thin ones 0.4-0.6 mm)?

I don`t envy you making a viola though!

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No, I don't care about grain orientation in the corner blocks--they don't do anything much anyway. I'm more careful with the endblocks, though.

The wood is at least 25 years old--I bought it from another violinmaker who'd stopped making violins. I don't know how old it was when he bought it. To flatten it, the wood is clamped at the ends between my bench dog and the vise dog, with cello posts under the thinner edges to keep the piece from rocking.

I think most people don't know how to sharpen a scraper. The trick is to get the edge as sharp as a knife, in this case with a 45-degree bevel on one side, and then use the absolute minimum force and pressure to turn a TINY hook. That's all you need--more pressure will damage the edge. This particular scraper is a common rectangular cabinet scraper--about 0.8mm, I think..

I made the toothed blade with a dremel and a cutoff wheel, from a normal blade. I just added a shot of the blade for you to the series.

If you spend more time on the center, you'll come out all right. Let the edges take care of themselves.

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I was looking more at the shavings also, as my teenage daughter walked in. I was trying to describe to her what Michaels pile of shavings mean, she shook her head and told me what a sick lot we are. I think I'm starting to get it.

Thank you for sharing Michael.

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Michael, I'm relieved you don't care about block grain orientation, because I've never cared about that too! I'll never feel guilty for that again!

Michael, would you please talk a bit about your model choice? The enlarged violin form was largely used by makers but today there is a trend towards violas with a differente shape, in general wider. Thank you.

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Interesting stuff Michael. Thanks for posting it.


I can't do it! I ALWAYS bookmatch the corner blocks... Actually, I was taught to do it that way, and continue the practice. (perhaps it is because I have a mental block!)

I book match my bread when I make a sandwich also. I KNOW it doesn't make any difference, but there you go!

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Yeah--remember I don't do it all at once by throwing the pieces up in the air and not letting them down until I have a viola--I just plug away at it one tiny (relatively simple) piece at a time, until, weeks later, I have an instrument. If you think about the whole process all at once, it gets too discouraging--in fact that's the first thing I had to learn--to disappoint my hyperactive desire for immediate results. :-)

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Thanks Michael, for the very informative photo progress post. We beginners, and yet-to-begin-ers, form rather vague, fantasy-like ideas of the instrument-making process. This thread brings it into reality for us. It really is like Manfio says, sooner or later it comes down to just you and the wood.

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