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xania

Is spruce easier to work than maple?

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I'm finding the spruce much easier to work than the maple I've been using. Is this generally the case?

The maple is fairly fresh and very white. The spruce is a gorgeous honey colour right the way through and is very well aged.

I'm still having to be kept on a very tight leash by the luthier, but the spruce is such a pleasure to work with!

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I "think" spruce is easier for plate graduation. But for ff-hole, and purfling, the spruce is much harder. It will split or crack along the gain if you are not careful.

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Be Careful!!! Spruce cuts so easily that you can get carried away and find yourself looking at a top with an arch you never intended. Ispirati is correct, spruce does have a 'mind of it's own' when you are doing the f holes and purfling.

Oded Kishony

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That's so true!

I was having the time of my life planing away when I hear a "STOP! For God's sake don't touch another thing 'till I get to you!!"

Lucky he's an Italian and not a German......

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With the right tool, any task can be made easy. Recently, I acquired a Lie-Nielson low angle adujstable block plane. It made rib thicknessing a piece of cake. I got so carried away feeling the smoothness of the operation. That strip of rib end up to be only 0.7mm. Of course, the strip was discarded and used to test sample varnish.

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What sort of bevel do you have on the blade? I have a low angle Stanley, but I found it was taking forever to get down to an appropriate thickness. Do you have the blade inverted as a scraper?

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I used the LN low angle block plane straight out of the box, along with a toothed blade. The blades are 25 degree facing upward. First I rough the thickness with tooth blade. Then use the regular blade to smooth the surface, and finish off with scraper. It is the same process as shown on Michael's website.

This photo from David Burgess's website shows a even better way to do the rib.

1265.jpg

The photos shows that he uses a standard block plane, not low angle. According to David Burgess, the angle of the blade is not the determining factor. The trick is to rotate the block plane in 45 degree angle to the curls instead of having the plane parellel to the strip. The angle will help to cut into the curls. He basically plane straight to the the thickness, with no scraping at all. That would give you a perfect smooth surface on the ribs, instead of the tearing type of cut caused from the scraper.

I have not tried this myself. But I saw the results with this method from another maker using a test strip. I think it is a better way. I will begin using that method from the next violin and on.

And of course, you need to set your plane properly. The precision of the blade setting is critical to even cutting. If you do not have the plane in perfect setting, you will probably chip the surface. I think Lie-Nielson out of box is as close to that "perfection" as you can get. I did not even need to sharpen the blade. It was already ready to use.

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