Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Any Cleat tricks . .


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 50
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I do them just as shown in the Weisshaar book, but they're considerably less than half of a cylinder. I glue them with Elmer's glue. Diamond-shaped cleats are also commonly seen, but they don't make sense to me. Previous comments on this board have suggested that if you have a good glue joint, cleats are redundant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Regis, Glad to see that someone is working on stuff as "nice" as me"

Tee hee!

I swear this is true. I just removed a mud wasp's nest as well as a set of rattlesnake rattles from one of these mariachi project violins I'm working on...

The violin has a "neck through" top block - no corner blocks, an integral bass bar, and a bolt recessed into the (some king of medium hard wood?) fb with the nut and a washer on the button in order to repair the heel crack... hand made pegs and - other than the various cracks in the top - it really isn't in too bad shape...

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I have not seen cloth reinforcement in a violin however

Sacconi mentions that Stradivari used 7cm x 5cm cloth

reinforcements spaced 5mm apart glued to the inside of his 1.3mm

to 1.5mm thick cello ribs.(pg 49)

It states that many were removed over the years because

they were thought to cover repairs however no cracks were

ever found.

Interesting page also describes the tonal advantages of thin ribs,

sometimes less than 1mm in violins.

So, I guess cloth or linen may not be completely out of place inside a violin.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Japes,

The Strad magazine Feb 1991 has a fascinating 6 page article

titled "The Problems Of Restoration" by Christian Rault.

Rault presents a very convincing argument for removing

an ever increasing number of wood cleats, particularily on

the belly and replacing with round parchment wafers.

Besides being of minimal weight and affect on the soundboard flexibility,

the shrinkage of the parchment actually pulls the joint together and does

not cause the internal stresses with humidity changes that a cross grain

cleat creates.

Very interesting article worth looking up.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everyone who's in the business has seen cloth patches inside violins that have shrunk and distorted the outside surface--sometimes very seriously. The Raut article suggests the patches should be small to prevent this, and the size he suggested made me wonder if they were doing anything at all. I'm not big on any kind of cleat, myself, unless in a really necessary area. I fail to see why they're necessary on cracks--the ultimate perfect joint--but not on centerseams and I've seen more than enough cases where a cleat is still intact and the crack above it has shrunken, opened, and can't be easily glued from the outside because the top has to come off to remove the cleat. The only time I use them is when a crack is old and dirty. If I can't see the crack after it's glued, I don't usually cleat it unless I see a real good reason to do so.

I'm the extreme position on cleats, and they're still in common use.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I just finished the restoration of a cello where I removed a number of those little parchment gems... Several were loose at the edges (made real nice noisemakers). One crack was distorted (pulled tight on the inside which left a nice ridge on the outside). Needless to say, I don't recommend them. I believe a number of European restorers have mentioned that parchment reinforcement does not do well in all climates.

Although I see a point in Michael's anti cleat stand, I do use cleats on many cracks. I am less likely to on a clean crack on the flank (where there is less tension). I also tend to space the cleats farther apart than I used to in many applications. Unlike patches in some areas (which I believe have been over used in the past and may still be in the present), cleats are reversable (easily removed and don't take material from the original piece when they are installed). This isn't meant to justify their use, but my concern level drops when the repair technique isn't damaging to the piece.

If a cleat is well fit & shaped, and the run doesn't line up on a single grain line (they are moved back and forth a bit), they seem to do rather well (and not cause new cracks). I work on several instruments where I suspect some repairs are quite old and are nicely stable. A possible argument: How would that same repair be without the cleats? Answer: I don't know... but I don't really want to take 'em out to try and find the answer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree, for what that's worth (very little), but I do think cleats have a place in saddle cracks. A saddle crack that hasn't been reinforced is trouble happening.

Saddle cracks are a real irritation to me. They seem the result of poor design. There must be a way to prevent saddle cracks. Is anyone employing methods of prevention in the construction phase?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jeffrey, I have seen (and I think it was in an old American instrument) cleats in the shape of bow ties actually inlaid into the wood with the grain at right angles to the grain of the plate.

The surface was flush.

At the time, I thought this was a rather neat idea because there would be no change to the wieght of the plate and the joint seemed very strong.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if cleats create as many problems as they solve.

Any comment on the 'bow tie' technique?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only place I regularly use cleats is the same type of place as Japes. With saddle cracks, I can convince myself that at least some of the pressure breaking the joint is directed downward into the arching, in which case the cleat ties the backside and the crack area *might* be compressed instead of broken with a cleat backing it up. It takes some jumps of faith in my logic to come to this conclusion about the direction the force is coming from, but as a safety matter I do it.

However on many cracks, because of the arching, I read the force as being essentially directed outwards from inside, which opens the crack and the cleat acts as a hinge on the backside--they're not strong enough, long enough, or often enough to provide any real bending resistance to do much. If the cleats were on the outside, I could see the use of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Glenn;

Yes... I do have a comment on the bow tie technique... It's bad news (the language in my mind is stronger.... ).

I had an interesting experience with this "repair technique" several years ago. A V. Panormo violin came in to the shop for restoration and resale. A repair person had installed "bow tie" patches up and down the center joint on the top, as well as on two flank cracks. The repair person was so proud of his work that he signed his name in the top and dated the repair. This is usually a bad sign anyway. In my experience, good restorers like to go in and come out quietly and leave as few road signs as possible.

Because of the movement of the top against the insets, the bow ties had cased new cracks at every junction...

We needed to solve several problems: What to do with the void when the little critters were removed, how to reinforce the (now) multiple cracks they caused, and how to reverse the distortion caused by the previous repair.

All ended happily. The violin is owned by a very good player who loves it. She knows the whole story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...