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Finishing the scroll

Carlos Juan

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Hello all.

I am about to finish my first scroll, although
I will leave it for the moment until I finish the plates. The thing
is that I am not very happy with it, it has not a clean finish. I
am wondering if all the tool marks will disappear after scraping or
if I should obtain a better finish with gouges before moving to
scrapers. I am also considering repeating the whole neck, do you
think I should keep this, bearing in mind it is my first

Thank you.



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Carlos --- keep in mind that none of us has ever done a perfect job on any violin --- and especially not on our first one!

I would try to carefully remove any obvious ridges with gouges before going to the scraper --- some of the areas can be difficult to reach with a scraper. Also, don't camfer (bevel) the edges until everything else is finished. You can use this bevelling to make minor corrections in the shape.

A few things to consider for fiddle number 2:

a). the area on top of the pegbox (right side) between the D and A pegs looks a little thin.

:). the second turn of the scroll (between the button and the top when viewed from the top) should form a straight cylinder if you picture it going right through, rather than tapering inward toward the center.

Keep moving forward --- your first scroll looks a lot like mine before I cleaned it up.

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Ciao Carlos! Scroll carving is not an easy task, as mentioned above. It seems you have some problems of design and execution.

First, try to follow the lines of the scroll you are copying. It seems an obvious tip, but bear that in mind. It will help more if you transfer to the wood the exact profile of the scroll. I like to take a xerox copy of both sides of the scroll, align it to the neck block and glue it directly on the neckblock, to guide me while cutting the scroll.

Don't trust in your eyes and take measurements of your work and compare it with your model. If you have an Strad Poster it will indicate all the important measures of the turns, soundbox, front views, etc. Allways keep an eye in your work and in your model. Having a good scroll in your hands (or a plaster model scroll) will help a lot.

Allways rotate the scroll in your hands while carving.

Try to focuse first in the external lines in all views, just when you get the correct shape you will start to undercut the scroll.

This is very important: allways go ahead only when the previous part is with the correct mesaruments and clean, and looking like your model. If the work is not clean, it will be difficult to you to control the lines of the scroll.

So, start with the pegbox, only when it's clean and with the correct profile (in all views, always keep in mind we are shaping a tridimensional object) you go ahead for the next one quart of the first turn of the scroll.

In your next scroll, remember that the front view of the pegbox tapers gently as it approaches the scroll, in your case the front view lines of your pegbox are parallel, that makers the front view a bit "stiff".

I plan to make a thread about scroll carving in the future.

And go ahead!!! Ciao!

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Hi Carlos, You're first question, you are right. You can finish

this scroll better with gouges first, make finer, cleaner cuts.

Make more cuts, and remove less material at one time. Sharpen

you're gouges today, before continuing. You should try to make

the scroll look as clean and finished as possible, and only scraper

at the very end, if at all, don't scraper in the tight


Look at a lot of scrolls, not just pictures, and compare what you

see with what you are doing. When you see the differences, try to

correct them. Fun, isn't it? For you're next scroll, you're pattern

looks a little too big

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Thank you all for your useful replies. I am afraid I have not been enough patient while carving the scroll. I know my first cutting of the outline was not good, but I went on thinking of finishing it later. Now I know that I must complete one step before going into other. You are so helpful.

By the way, can anyone recommend a suitable tool for cutting the neck outline out of the neck block? I had a bad time cutting it with a spiral copying saw and finally did it with a borrowed scroll saw, which I found to be inadecuate, as the cutting was not at a right angle, resulting in a non simetric form.

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I love carving scrolls, so I am compelled to add a few comments for your consideration:

1. I found out the hard way that you need to have the appearance, size and relative position of the turns on both sides of the scroll established before undercutting.

Trying to change these to correct, for example, front view asymmetry can be very problematic after you have undercut, because of the impact wood removal has on the views from other directions.

This is very difficult to explain in words, but extremely easy to see in practice. I would suggest that you practice with a soft wood block to get used to the order of cuts, gouging etc around the scroll.

2. When cutting the pegbox, stay well away from your lines for the walls when using rounded gouges. You can then get closer to the pegbox outline with straight ones.

3. You have done a great job with the bottom of the pegbox; this is difficult to carve well. Make sure you do not go too deep, because scalloping the back of the scroll can make the pegbox floor too thin.

All in all, a very worthy first effort!!

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Some might consider this cheating, but I found that thin strips torn from fine-grade sanding belts and wrapped around the curves are pretty good for getting rid of rough toolwork. And sanding sticks - sandpaper stuck to curved sticks and rods of different diameters - are good for the fluting.

Then when your surfaces are smooth again you can use a sharp gouge to refine your work.

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I think it is a great thing that you are willing to allow the forum to see and follow your progress on your first violin. That says alot about you and your interest in your work. I like the confidence reflected in some of your tool marks. Over time that will serve you well. I am learning that as you work on the scroll, even just a little amount of added work can make a significant difference in the look and feel of the scroll. At some point you do alittle something and all of a sudden, the whole thing comes to life.


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