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Carving a scroll step by step (or almost)


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I'm taking some pictures while I'm making my new viola scroll, and I'll put them here with some explanation of the process I use. This is the way I carve my scrolls, others certainly carve them differently. The basic idea is giving some notion about the process I use.

My photo abilities are far from being perfect...

This scroll will be inspired on Andrea Guarneri, from the PRIMROSE viola pictured in Bein & Fushi monograph, but I'll make it without shoulders (that we call "ganasce", in Italian), since many violists don't like them and I want a light scroll also.

I start planning the surface that will receive the fingerboard, here I'm using a RECORD NO. 7 plane with a Japanese laminated blade (the upper side of the block is already paralell):


This is my neck block with the planned upper face. I'm using flamed wood but plain wood is reccomended for begginers, since it's more easy to carve:


Now I'll reduce the neck block to its final thicknesses, that is the maximum width of the scroll, that corresponds to the eyes or last turn, in my case 46 milimeters. Since my block is parallel, I'll use a bandsaw to make two square cuts (with the planned fingerboard side down, facing the bandsaw's table) that will reduce my neck block to 46 mm.

Since the blade will make both cuts square, I'll have no need to square the upper face of my block with the side faces. I'll not touch the side faces with a plane again, since want to keep it square, just the smal circle of the last turn will be be visible when the scroll is finished and I can refinish this small part lager. Working with the plane now would require more time too, and I have to work fast:


Now I'll trace a center line ("mezzeria") in the fingerboard face with this Japanese tool. This line is made by a small knife and wo will be permanent:


Now I'll take a xerox copy (real size) of the side views of my scroll model. I had just one view of this scroll, so I had to make a "negative" drawing of the other side. I find it an easy way to work, because I don't have to make models and I'll make no mistake while transferring the outline to my neck block. Many books (such as Biddulph's on Del Gesù) have both side views of the instruments pictured real size.

I'll aligne, center and glue (hide glue) these copies over my neck block, of course both sides must be perfectly aligned to each other. I apply hide glue also over the paper:


Now I use a template to mark the neck, the neck rood, and a special square to mark the final angle of the neck root:


Since we can't replace cut wood, I'll check all lines prior to cut it, mainly the distance from the fingerboard/upper nut line to the end of the neck line. Bear in mind that you will dovetail the neck to the upper block, so, if your neck length is 150 milimeters (as in my case) you will have to have about 8 milimeters more for the dovetail. I check it visually with one of my instruments:


Double, triple check everything prior to cut it.

This is a view of the neck block with the main lines:


Now I have to rest for a while!!!

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Now I will cut the outline in a bandsaw. I start cutting the neck root, I use an angle guide to make a precise cut:


I continue cutting, I'm cutting near the line (risky) so that I'll have less work to refine my outline. The "throat" is an important aspect of the style of the maker:


This wood is generous in size, perhaps I'll be able to make a violin scroll with the rest of the wood:



Now I use a big, coarse rasp to take off the saw's marks, it removes wood fast, I have to work quickly:


Here, with a smaller coarse rasp I work on the volute region. I have to keep the rasp flat over the surface to cut uniformly, notice the position of my hands, specially the left hand thumb applying some pressure over the rasp:


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Hi! Thank you all! Yes, I like to share, it's my way!

Now I'll glue my finished fingerboard to my neck block, and I'll not remove it anymore, I'll varnish the instrument with the glued fingerboard, in the same manner Strad, Del Gesù and other old makers worked. I'll protect the fingerboard with a piece of thick leather when I clamp it in my vise:



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Hi Newnewbie! Neck thicnesses: 19 (or 18.5) in the thinnest point and 21 mm on the thickest (neck plus fingerboard).

The fingerboard is 24.5 and 45 mm wide.

I have no idea about the angle and I don't have the tool to measure it but the lower part of the neck root will penetrate a bit more deeply in the dovetail.

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Manfio, your pictorial tutorial of carving a scroll is excellent. I especially like the fact that you glued xerox copies on both sides of the maple block; I think it may be better than pin pricking the scroll from a template.

Your thread is a great benefit those of us who just starting out and trying to learn established techniques of experienced builders


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Hi, thank you all! I'm having problem in linking photos form PICASA here, the URL PICASA gives for a photo is, for instance:


then I do the same as I do with flickr but does not work... Can you help me? If I could use PICASA I would be able to show much more photos here. Thank you in advance!!!

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