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Carving a scroll step by step (or almost)


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Thank you, Luis for quoting Maestro Carlo Vettori's book. If we look at the back of the pegbox of Strad style of channelling, it converges much faster right after the A-peg hole and both side edges are convex. In Amati style, it narrows down more gradual but opens up faster. I wonder what it would look like if we put the narrowest point in between the two cases.

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Notice the position of the hands. The scroll is a bit fragile in this point so you have to support it with your other hand while cutting the channel:



Here a view of the fluting of the front part of the scroll. I put a piece of sandpaper on the back to give contrast:


Here Im working in the fluting in the throat region with a knife:


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Here I'm using a knife for cutting till the centerline:


When cutting the fluthing near the throat, the gouge may scape and hurt the front part of the pegbox's walls, so I protect them with a small piece of thick leather:


Again cutting the throat region with a knife:


Here using a knife to cut till the chamfer. The channell was made with the gouge, the knife will just cut the small remaining part till the line of the chamfer, I find it gives more precision than the gouge, the gouge can "invade" the chamfer, but many makers will use just the gouge:


Here I'm using a rond file to take off some marks left by the gouge:





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Thank you Berl!

I still will have to make some refinishing on my scroll but now I'll work on the neck. Here I worked with an aggressive rasp till the final thickness of the neck, 18.5 and 20, I'll remove the wood betwen these points:


You may have the impression that my workshop is a mess, there is a good quote by Oscal Wilde about first impressions:DSC00764.jpg

Here I wrapped a coarse sandpaper in a round chisel handle to work in this region:


Here I'm cutting the neck root with my Japanese saw:


Working in the neck with a rasp:


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I see that you have done some work on the hollow under the

fingerboard. Can you give us some information on your fingerboard

set-up such as length and side height etc.

Since you mentioned that the neck is 150 mm I am assuming that the

Stop for the instrument is 225 mm.

Is this right?  Do you stick with the same Stop and Neck


Thanks for the extremely interesting post !!!!

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Thank you Falstaff!

NewNewbie and Jacob: I keep the same neck length, stop and string length regardless the size of my viola, following Renè Morel's article on the Strad some years ago. The neck length is 150 milimeters, the string length is 375 milimeters and the stop will be that one that allows the 375 mm string length.

I leave the sides of the fingerboard about 5.5 and I try to make it light. I'll have to check the length of it. I'm rather busy these days I'll post more pics when possible. Ciao!

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"When I look at the fingerboard, I think Manfio will use a body

stop of 223mm." - Jacob


"The neck length is 150 milimeters, the string length is 375

milimeters and the stop will be that one that allows the 375 mm

string length." -MANFIO



That should be then in the area of 223 mm or just under.

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Hi NewNewbie! I will adjust the string length to 375 and put the bridge in the place that gives this stop.

Now I will shape the neck and fingerboard. I'll divide the side of the fingerboard in 3 parts:


First I'll round the two external thirds, preserving the central one that will correspond to the widest part of the neck:



Here a straight edge over the side of the fingerboard showing the central third as the wides part of the fingerboard:



On the part of the fingerboard that is not glued to the neck just the upper third will be rounded:


Here a shaped scraper is used for finishing the inside hollowing of the fingerboard:


I use my thumb's nail to guide me shaping this area (here not finished yet):


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Hi Mathew! I use my thumbnails on the fluting of the C bouts of the back and top of my violas. For some new Japanese tools I can allow Dick to make posh templates with my thumbnails... But they could also make casts of tops, backs, and scrolls of instruments made by top makers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I've been rather busy and unable to continue this, I'll try to continue and finish it.


This is the front view of the pegbox near the nut. Notice that just the outer side of the pegbox walls are chamfered, the inner parts remain not chamfered. The "floor" of the pegbox is finished with a chisel used as a scraper.


While working in the the neck, take care to avoid ebony dust reaching the maple because it will stain the maple, mainly if you are using sandpaper.




And finally, here the photo of the real McCoy and my new scroll:


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Manfio, a question...

You use quite a coarse rasp for shaping the neck. Are you very particular about removing the rasp marks?

I have very sharp hand-cut rasps and the marks they leave can be very difficult to remove. As a result, I probably use them less than I should.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hi! I posted this tutorial also in Claudio Rampini's forum. An Italian friend, Edoardo Marchisio, kindly prepared a PDF file with all photos and text, but in Italian. The Italian version can be downloaded here.


I have no technical skills to do the same in English... but if there is a volunteer to do that, I authorize it. Ciao!

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Hello Manfio - I made a pdf for myself that is basically all of the

photos along with your words. I would be happy to e-mail it to you.

PM me and I will send it for you to review. Maybe Edoardo could put

your English version on his zdshare site along with the Italian.

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