Some beginner's questions


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Hi all,

I am thinking of trying to build a cello or perhaps a violin first, although I am more interested in a cello... So far, while waiting for my Art of Violin Making book to arrive, I've been studying the Jasmine Davis' site (with which I am very impressed) and I have a few questions:

1. Is using of power tools somehow considered "wrong"? I thought I could use a jointer for for preparing front and back plates for joining... I was also wondering if one could use a planer to bring the ribs to the correct thickness? I don't own any of these tools, but one of my colleagues at work does and he could let me use them...

2. I found the way Jasmine was fitting linings quite awkward... I was wondering if there is a better way?

3. I have some not too bad woodworking skills, but I've never learned how to sharpen tools properly... Is there a good guide on this, especially considering all kinds of curved instruments used in violin making?...

Thanks in advance for your answers!

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I'll take a stab at some of your questions, although I'm still a beginner myself, but I think I have some relevant experience to bear - I'm about 2/3 through my first violin. My advice would be to learn first about sharpening. You would not believe how sharp you can get tools, and how much difference that makes. There is a LOT of wood in a cello. In fact, I bet most would advise you to try making a violin first, but that's your call. I would suggest that a power jointer won't likely give you the kind of joint that's needed, you'd still have to use a hand plane to get that perfect surface, so a power jointer is probably not that useful (don't ask how I know this...). Lots of folks use a thickness sander to thickness the ribs, and again, with a cello, there's a LOT of wood...

Good luck, and welcome to the obsession!

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Hi all,

I am thinking of trying to build a cello or perhaps a violin first, although I am more interested in a cello... So far, while waiting for my Art of Violin Making book to arrive, I've been studying the Jasmine Davis' site (with which I am very impressed) and I have a few questions:

1. Is using of power tools somehow considered "wrong"? I thought I could use a jointer for for preparing front and back plates for joining... I was also wondering if one could use a planer to bring the ribs to the correct thickness? I don't own any of these tools, but one of my colleagues at work does and he could let me use them...

2. I found the way Jasmine was fitting linings quite awkward... I was wondering if there is a better way?

3. I have some not too bad woodworking skills, but I've never learned how to sharpen tools properly... Is there a good guide on this, especially considering all kinds of curved instruments used in violin making?...

Thanks in advance for your answers!

+++++++++++++++

" Is using of power tools somehow considered "wrong"?" Luthiers treat wood like a baby, only gentle cutting is allowed. (only my impression

got from reading, not an expert answer )

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Welcome to MN

While you are waiting for your "Violin making" book you should learn to sharpen chisels, gouges and scrapers. There are many opinions on how to sharpen these tools and eventually you will a method that suits you. Lee Valley has day seminars on how to sharpen tools but their method(s) is/are designed to sell their gadgets. It is more about keeping a sharp edge i.e. honing skills. In my opinion there are some power tools that I find essential such as 1. Band saw (with wide re-saw blade and a fine cut blade) 2. Heavy duty 6"/9" belt and disk sander. 3. A thicknessing sander (home-made) for ribs 4. Oscillating vertical spindle sander.

You can "recover" from a hand tool mistake much more easily than from a power tool mistake so be extremely careful.

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"Luthier treat wood like a baby, only gentle cutting is allowed." ... I think the authorities might have something to say if I treated my baby like that, Yuen :-)

Actually there are plenty of top makers who uses power tools to varying degrees, especially on cellos. But it's wrong to expect power tools to do a "better" job than hand methods, and this particularly applies to centre joints. Unfortunately this is one of the trickiest and most crucial jobs and it comes right at the start.

This is a book on sharpening that I found useful...

http://www.amazon.com/Sharpening-Complete-...s/dp/0946819483

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"Luthier treat wood like a baby, only gentle cutting is allowed." ... I think the authorities might have something to say if I treated my baby like that, Yuen :-)

Actually there are plenty of top makers who uses power tools to varying degrees, especially on cellos. But it's wrong to expect power tools to do a "better" job than hand methods, and this particularly applies to centre joints. Unfortunately this is one of the trickiest and most crucial jobs and it comes right at the start.

This is a book on sharpening that I found useful...

http://www.amazon.com/Sharpening-Complete-...s/dp/0946819483

++++++++++

Thanks, Allan

I was too fast to say what I said. Next time I would think twice.

By the way your reference given is good to have but just for sharpening a chisel, would a wet stone

be okay? Where I can get one ? I need to sharpen my chisel after the bushing job. I have never sharpen a tool before.

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Welcome to the forum mbmsv, I'm also working on my first violin but I'll put in my two cents. I strongly agree with the others considering learning to sharpen tools correctly. I thought I was getting pretty good at it until I met someone who knew better. He helped me understand that I must attempt to achieve perfection. His cutting edges looked like mirrors. It makes all of the difference in the world if your tools are correctly sharpened.

Good to have you aboard. If you're like the rest of us you will find the process to be intensely rewarding

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sharp tools....the easy way

www.worksharptools.com

power tools?...why i'd have to fire all my small furry woodland creatures.....beavers, woodchucks, elves...etc...

the 3000 worksharp is pretty cool...check out their u-tube vid...

not sure if its on the site, but google it

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MBMSV,

Some think it is wrong as woodworking purists, but you should understand that no power tool do any job completely anyway. They are only used to make jobs go faster, and then mostly followed with hand tools. If you're just getting into this, you've gotta learn the job with hand tools .

Sharpening is literally a prerequisite, so you have get some hand tools and learn how to sharpen them before you get started.

I wouldn't go straight to cello. All of your tools that you buy will work on cello, and the book you mention won't get you through a cello, it is for violin. A cello is as large financial investment to be making mistakes on. I looked at Jasmine Davis' sight once. I could be wrong, but she looks like she had some training before building a cello

Sean

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The first task I had to perform, as an apprentice, was to plane a block of maple into a perfect cube, about 3" on a side. That frustrating experience taught me the importance of flattening the sole of my brand new block plane and the importance of sharpening. It also began my love affair with hand tools, which continues to this day.

I built my first violin entirely with hand tools. As an impatient twenty-year-old who barely understood the use of fine hand tools and knew nothing of power tools. I felt that power tools would help me work better and faster. My fellow apprentices felt the same, so we learned to use both hand and power tools.

We carefully rebuilt and tuned up power tools. Much to our disgust, in every case but that of the band saw, even carefully tuned power tools didn't allow the precise, fluid, creative work of well-tuned hand tools.

As others have said, begin learning to sharpen now. It's the foundation. You can't begin until you have sharp tools, and most processes you perform will require re sharpening at least once.

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Chris's 3" square block task is one of those basic steps to learning about the challenges of general woodworking, tool use, sharpening and gaining experience. IMO machines have there place but it usually takes experience to know where and when to insert them into the process. Also many times you can complete a task by hand more quickly than figuring out how to jig a set-up to be successful with a machine, this might be particularly true with the violin family instruments. Lastly, in violin making one has to "fit" numerous irregularly shaped pieces of wood together to make an instrument and there are plenty of opportunities where this will happen! So, get some tools and some wood and have fun good luck!

MikeS

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I've never built a violin but have built a number of bows and learned to do the work by hand first. Helps to understand the process. Power tools have their place in any building process but are not the final answer. Usually they bring the work to a rough shape than the hand tools are used. I doubt if the wood knows any difference.

I have to pass this on for what it's worth. An experienced builder mention a way to form the ribs on a violin. He heats the wood strips in very hot water than fastens them to a mold and puts them in the oven. Not sure how long. When he takes them out they are close to being in perfect shape and are now easier to work with. Makes sense to me but then I don't build violins.

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1. I was also wondering if one could use a planer to bring the ribs to the correct thickness?

2. I found the way Jasmine was fitting linings quite awkward... I was wondering if there is a better way?

1) A large machine thickness planer? Not if they are highly figured, the grain will tear out. You may also want to use a slave board as they are very thin.

2) Looking at her site, that is about the way to do it. Bend them, trim the ends to length, and glue them in with a zillion tiny clamps or clothes pins. The lining ends being fit into the c-bout blocks is normal, too.

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Thanks to everyone who answered! I really liked that WS3000 sharpening machine, it sure looks attractive and the price seems right...

Indeed welcome to the obsession - it will take you to some interesting places and people, and up alleys you would never have thought of (like my growing collection of Australian made hand planes).

The three rules of lutherie:

Sharpening, Sharpening, Sharpening

Is has been said on this board that you will spend as much time sharpening your tools as using them. Very true, if you've got nothing else to do, there are always things that need to be sharper :)

The book Alan referred to is very good. Sadly, SWMBO still uses it as evidence of my needing a life.

Power tools - a small band saw has proved useful, as has a drill press. Other than that, don't know. I don't see violin making as a race, but then I don't rely on it to make a living. I recall Manfio (I think) saying there was an phrase for power tools which translated as "the fast idiot" There's a lot in that.

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Thanks to everyone who answered! I really liked that WS3000 sharpening machine, it sure looks attractive and the price seems right...

At the risk of Jezzupe telling me to "shaddupamaface" I wouldn't go for sharpening machinery if I were you. 1000 grit and 6000 grit bench waterstones (or a combination stone), couple of similar grit slip stones and a honing guide (even though it might make you feel like you're wearing short pants) would be my advice.

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At the risk of Jezzupe telling me to "shaddupamaface" I wouldn't go for sharpening machinery if I were you. 1000 grit and 6000 grit bench waterstones (or a combination stone), couple of similar grit slip stones and a honing guide (even though it might make you feel like you're wearing short pants) would be my advice.

I rented the Sharpening woodworking tools DVD with Leonard Lee from a library and I agree I don't need a machine. It is a great video. It does advertise some stuff that Lee Valley sells, but Leonard promotes the simplest tools possible and shows how to make honing tools using scrap wood. Maybe in the end I will spend the same $200 the machine costs, but I will help the world by wasting less electricity :)

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I rented the Sharpening woodworking tools DVD with Leonard Lee from a library and I agree I don't need a machine. It is a great video. It does advertise some stuff that Lee Valley sells, but Leonard promotes the simplest tools possible and shows how to make honing tools using scrap wood. Maybe in the end I will spend the same $200 the machine costs, but I will help the world by wasting less electricity :)

Excellent, a guy who does his research. You'll do well.

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