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Chips in highly figured back - what do you do?

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I think you're going to need to post a picture, Matt. Not sure what I'd do (you have more experience than me), but this sounds a lot like a post from Barry D, when he chipped his scroll when the violin was near completion. I'd say offhand that it sounds like some kind of patch might be in order...

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I have not done this repair, but in the absence of the likes of Jeffrey: I guess you face a choice of either painstaking matching a piece of repair wood to the edge of the purfling, or cutting right through the purfling in order to make a workable space for fitting the repair wood and then repairing the purfling last.

Is this in a highly curved area of purfling or fairly straight? I imagine you could cut some matching wood from an offcut and after fitting it to the curve of the purfling, glue it onto a 'handle' and proceed to make a normal patch to fit a recess carefully cut to preserve the purfling.

Just for the record, the above suggestion is not the sort of painstakingly conservative repair as would hopefully be done on an old instrument.

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Hi Matt,

sorry to see your trouble, but I would take it as an opportunity to learn some restoration work.

In addition to Andres excellent suggestion, maybe Magnus or Jeff or some of the other restorers will come along with some better advice than I. But I would inlay some wood into those areas and see if I could get a blend. Go to your offcut pile and find the pieces around your plate. Get the wood that was along that grain and going the same way. Take a fairly deep shaving with a "8 or deeper gouge and inlay it into a scoop made from the same gouge. Start just before the chip and end just beyond it. Try to go straight with the grain rather than angle like the purfling, But if you do angle the cut, also make the shaving angle in the same orientation. Press it in using hide glue using a plexiglass caul and then level it when dry. You may need to antique the violin a bit. For that chip that is very near the purfling, I would lift the purfling up after wetting it and make the inlay underneath.

After looking closer at your pics I think you might need to try a couple different things. The chip in the corner is not going to allow an along the grain groove and you might have to go across the grain with a very, very sharp gouge to make to groove. The chip in the top photo, you are going to run your gouge in the direction that would correspond with the top of the photo to the bottom. Se the way the grain chips...like combing a cats hair from tail to head.

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That's the bummer with highly-figured wood (as I'm coming to learn). It wants to chip or tear out at any opportunity. I'll take the opportunity to ask a couple of real newbie-type questions, and probably embarass myself in the process (I've had a couple of homebrews this afternoon). The lower (lower treble corner) photo looks to me like there is still a fair bit of scraping to do. Wouldn't that tend to take care of those little chips? I'm thinking the digital closeup tends to exaggerate them - maybe nothing is needed there, but to finish the scraping. In any case, I'd be inclined to scrape out those "chips", rather than patch them, but I guess that would depend on how thin that back was graduated...

I agree the upper one (lower bout) is pretty much in need of patching, but I'd be really intimidated trying to make both the patch and patched area using just a gouge, but OTOH, that kind of patch pretty much demands less-than-completely-regular edges to be as invisible as possible. I'd also observe (not that it makes anything better) that at least the back isn't so much viewed, and once the fiddle is finished, these might not be as visible as they look like they'd be...

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Depending on what model I'm shooting for, or what kind of look I'm

after, I'll leave things like that from time to time. Not always,

mind you.Just when I'm after a more honest, from the hip, warts and

all kind of thing.

 So here's an example of what it might look like if you

varnished over the tear outs, with no attempt to hide them.

Opinions as to whether this is a terrible thing to do

are welcomed. sometimes I wonder if I'm going a bit looney up

here. ( del Gesu model)

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Darren Molnar
So here's an example of what it might look like if you

varnished over the tear outs, with no attempt to hide them.

Opinions as to whether this is a terrible thing to do

are welcomed.

This is another thing I was wondering about. Does it come off as poor workmanship, or a more 'personal' approach? I left alot of stuff like this on my first violin. Perhaps it adds character?

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The best thing to do is avoiding chipping on the maple... use more scrapers in the transversal sense.

In the future someone will write that "most of the original varnish has worn, but in some parts of the back were the maple has chipped and the varnish has sunk we can still see Matt's varnish in his full glory..."

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It's a good question. I've shown pictures of this violin to one

dealer, who hinted that he thought this was a bit sloppy. I showed

another one previously which was cleanly done, and it was suggested

to" mess it up" a bit. Who to please?

Maybe it is influenced by moon cycles or something.

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My first reaction when I saw your photos, Matt, was to suggest that you got a good antique job going there and maybe you should leave it rough. What famous old instrument doesn't have a few dozen scrapes and nicks? You would just have to add them if you were mimicking the wear and tear so here you've got a good start! They're not deep enough to sacrifice the structural integrity, and they don't look like something you would add intentionally so they're a good start towards a rustic look.

I know in all your past instruments you've gone to the extra effort to make very pristine and beautiful finishes to top off the project. This one might be trying to suggest something different. Something with a little dirt rubbed in and a few stains in the ground.

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Hi Matt,

The deed is done, you have to make the best of it. There are some good repair suggestions posted already. However you have to face up to the fact that your chisells and scrapers are not sharp enough to do the job. Perhaps your technique and patience needs a bit of honing as well. It seems like you're cutting and scraping against the grain. Whilst a very sharp chisell would cut OK, if its is a bit blunt or has the wrong angle it may tear.

Perhaps the wood you have there is brittle, but if you cut and scrape with the grain(as Manfio says) it will leave a better finish.

Sorry about the blunt message.

Cheers Wolfjk

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I would leave it alone. I like to remind myself that people were making fine violins during both world wars.

Many of these instruments are well respected, as are their makers. Imagine making a violin in Italy, England, Germany, etc.etc.etc in the 1940's.

Little nicks and dings seem a bit less tragic when the world is falling around you.

Not to be overly dramatic.

It really come down to aesthetics. Lots of good modern Italian violins have very noticable flaws, but they serve the whole, and are very easy

on the eyes and ears. If you can live with it, so can I.

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Good advice from krugwaffle. Gouging over the purfling is not easy, and you only learn that you are not being careful enough when this happens. The wood wants to do something different on each side of the purfling. It requires a sharp gouge, a small cut, and a sharp turn of the wrist. You also have to be ready to pull back if you see it start to happen and get it from a different direction.

The small ones look like they can easily be minimized with a finger plane and scraper.

My opinion on the big one is that planing down the purfling, making that area a little thinner, and showing some of the tool mark would look better than any disguise

Sean

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I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the immediate declaration of a CSI (Chip Scene Investigation) to find the piece that has been dislodged.

A small effort to find the elusive fragment, if rewarded with success, will save much time and angst later.

This is only feasible if the work area is tidy and the chip is largish.

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As Janito mentioned above, if you can find that piece of wood, that would be dandy. If not, just cut a piece, apply the glue and press with the tool handle. A small piece of wood will deform and fill that pit. Wood is an anistropic material. Near the widest parts of upper and lower bouts, I often carve perpendicular to the grain ( or parallel to the flame) to avoid tearing. Nowadays I can't even tolerate a tiny fibre pull-out by the scraper. This is the woodworking aspect of violin making one must learn.

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Well, seriously, though, what you've got on the lower treble side corner especially looks very nice and attractive. You'll spoil the effect by trying to clean it up.

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Used carefully, the technique Ken is demonstrating can cover some pretty major stuff. When I was building the (only one so far) bass, last year, I accidentally drilled a hole all the way through the pegbox, where it was supposed to be a blind hole, and tapered. I was pretty sick about it, but was not about to start over and carve another bass scroll, so I plugged the hole, and re-drilled, reamed, etc. to get it mechanically correct. But what about aesthetics?

I used the method Ken described, over and over, adding a narrow strip of matching grain, each overlapping the last, until I had patched over the end of the plug on the outside. each strip was applied exactly as he describes, then allowed to dry, and carefully leveled before repeating the process for the next strip. The plug was maybe 14mm in diameter. It is in plain sight, but no one has ever noticed it unless it was pointed out to them. I told the customer, of course, but they couldn't see it anyway, so it was fine. :-)

The patched hole is above and to the left of the upper tuning machine in this photo. It is not invisible, though I am sure that a better maker could have rendered it so...but it is essentially unnoticeable, which is all I had hoped for.

basssidescrollsmall.jpg

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quote:


Originally posted by:
upnorth

I thought that I would put my money where my mouth is and show an inlay example.

So here is what I did using Michigan Red Maple.

This is pretty much what I have done. It is gluing and I will post pics of the process and final product when complete.

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I used a 3/8" #7 sweep gouge to clean the chip.

fix1.jpg

This was all I had left of the back cutoffs, a portion from the opposite end of the back (upper treble bout) that I had used to test some varnish on the other side of. I used the aluminum pattern to trace an edge for the part of the patch that butts up against the purfling.

fix2.jpg

Next I gouged out a patch. I did a bunch of test pieces and found my 1" #7 sweep bent gouge to make the best fitting patch.

fix3.jpg

Here it is trimmed a little and fitted.

fix4.jpg

This was my gluing setup, nothing special.

fix5.jpg

Here it is after some fine gouge work and scraping. Not invisible at all, probably because the wood wasn't from the same area, but better than a chip.

fix6.jpg

fix7.jpg

fix8.jpg

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