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The Essentials of the Beginning Humble Luthier


aaronjt
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I am wanting to start up to make a violin, as a hobby, then see where it goes from there. I was thinking probably a budget of around 500 dollars, a place to buy from and a bare essentials list of what is needed. I could possibly get to a workshop, so no need possibly for things like drill press, other hardware and so on.

I was just wondering what would be the bare essentials, I've been reviewing The Art of Violin Making, and know this will be a complicating project, which will take maybe half a year, But I need a place to buy the tools (recommended tools and beginning material and online supplier). Good wood to start with (I love flame), I am sure this will help many people in starting up, and I humbly say, thank you.

Aaron

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I was just wondering what would be the bare essentials, I've been reviewing The Art of Violin Making, and know this will be a complicating project, which will take maybe half a year, But I need a place to buy the tools (recommended tools and beginning material and online supplier). Good wood to start with (I love flame), I am sure this will help many people in starting up, and I humbly say, thank you.

Aaron

Get a few good tools and use them - you will soon work out if you need more.

Good tools at good prices from Dov Schmidt, but see also: http://stores.shop.ebay.com.au/Charming-SO...e__W0QQ_armrsZ1

Avoid flame at the outset is my advice.

Good luck - watch out, this is addictive.

Tim

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At a bare minimum, you'll need some good chisels and gouges (I just got a set of Japanese gouges from Grizzly for about $62, that after resharpening, seem pretty good.), a couple of good knives (try Japan Woodworker), a good sharpening system (waterstones up to about 8000 grit), a graduating caliper (made my own for about $30), a set of finger planes, a really good medium size flat plane, peg reamer and shaper, some good scrapers, bending iron (you may be able to make one), glue pot, assorted other measuring devices, and a bunch of other stuff. I'd be surprised if you can do it for $500 for the tools. I think I spent closer to $1000 my first year, and that's just for hand tools and supplies. Don't want to discourage you, just want to make you aware that things get expensive. You could start out, and then progress as your budget permits. International Violin Co. and Howard Core are very good suppliers. Welcome and good luck!

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I am wanting to start up to make a violin, as a hobby, then see where it goes from there.

Rather than making a violin, you might consider starting off by buying, assembling and varnishing a violin kit. Or buying a white (unvarnished) violin, taking the top off, regraduating it, fitting a new bass bar, re-gluing the top and varnishing it. Either of these options would give you a taste of violin work without the time and money commitment of making one from scratch. And you would gain some tools and experience that would serve you well if you still want to make a violin after the introductory project.

If you want to search the archives of this forum for a beginner's guide to violin making, I suggest you look for Seth Leigh's messages. As he made his first violin, he described the process and asked many questions. Have fun

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You could start out, and then progress as your budget permits.

That's what I've done, look up my threads here to see how I've spent the past 2-1/2 years. During that time, I've slowly acquired or made most of the fundamental tools, and have finished my first violin. I'm already working on my second, which should be completed much more quickly (and accurately). I truly believe that if you really want to do it, you'll make it happen. From the time I first got the idea to try it, to the time I actually started making one, about 12 years passed. I bet you won't take that long...

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At a bare minimum, you'll need some good chisels and gouges (I just got a set of Japanese gouges from Grizzly for about $62, that after resharpening, seem pretty good.), a couple of good knives (try Japan Woodworker), a good sharpening system (waterstones up to about 8000 grit), a graduating caliper (made my own for about $30), a set of finger planes, a really good medium size flat plane, peg reamer and shaper, some good scrapers, bending iron (you may be able to make one), glue pot, assorted other measuring devices, and a bunch of other stuff. I'd be surprised if you can do it for $500 for the tools. I think I spent closer to $1000 my first year, and that's just for hand tools and supplies. Don't want to discourage you, just want to make you aware that things get expensive. You could start out, and then progress as your budget permits. International Violin Co. and Howard Core are very good suppliers. Welcome and good luck!

Wow, your bare minimum is way more than I made my first violins with. My first violin was made without a single gouge. Sure tools can make the job easier but you don't have to have most of them to make a violin. I'm sure I'll leave some things off this list but my bare essentials list is something like this.

1. Chisels. A 1/4" and 3/4" is all I use, cheap ones from a flea market.

2. A working hand plane for joining plates and thinning sides.

3. Glue pot. A small "soup can" size crock pot is what I still use. Paid less than $20 for it.

4. A bending iron for the sides. A piece of steel pipe and a propane torch work.

5. A vice mounted to a sturdy work bench.

6. The steady workbench.

7. A peghole reamer

8. Peg shaper

9. Coping saw

10. Assorted clamps, most of which you can make or improves when needed.

11. Cheap hardware store calipers, you can build a fixture and use them as graduating calipers as well.

I think these are the most important tools. I think that anything beyond this is nice and makes the job easier but you can get away without. Definately can be done for less than $500, unless that is supposed to include materials.

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Rather than making a violin, you might consider starting off by buying, assembling and varnishing a violin kit. Or buying a white (unvarnished) violin, taking the top off, regraduating it, fitting a new bass bar, re-gluing the top and varnishing it. Either of these options would give you a taste of violin work without the time and money commitment of making one from scratch. And you would gain some tools and experience that would serve you well if you still want to make a violin after the introductory project.

If you want to search the archives of this forum for a beginner's guide to violin making, I suggest you look for Seth Leigh's messages. As he made his first violin, he described the process and asked many questions. Have fun

Would you have a recommendation for a unfinished violin, I've seen a few out there, but don't know which are of decent quality.

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One of the best things about making a first violin is cheaply making some of the required tools yourself, such as Body Clamps, Fingerboard Holder, Body Calipers etc. Have a look at http://aluminiumviolins.com.au/ (in the Luthier section) where amongst sundry violins are details of some very easily made and some a bit more complex to make tools.

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I have had some further thoughts about this:

You want to make a violin, so that is what you should do. Buying one in the white and doing things to it will not actually teach you much (with great respect to the suggester of this).

I assumed a bunch of things in my first reply - like you had a bench, vice (why can't our US cousins spell?) chisels, usual planes (number 4 or 5 etc) clamps and so on. Also that many things can be made - cradle, clamps for assembling the body, bass bar clamps etc. There are a number of really cheap and very effective sharpening systems as well.

I made my first 3 with 2 finger planes, I have now bought another 5 - but that is because of something else you might factor in, the possibility of developing an unhealthy interest in other tools (in my case 19th century saws, Australian made planes and any really good chisels or gouges)

In the US you have the advantage of being able to buy local timbers that are suitable at very reasonable prices - and you don't have the postage costs we in Oz are faced with. (I did once consider building using Australian timbers, and own a couple of old violins made with local materials - there's another cost to factor in: you will start to buy violins - but now agree with what Alan Coggins said to me when I mentioned it: "Why?")

When I showed my first violin to a maker (cringe) he said to me, it will take you 6 or 7 to understand what you are doing. Now starting number 5, I am beginning to understand what John meant. Don't try to run before you can crawl...

Best regards,

Tim

PS - Almost forgot another essential - red wine (or beer)

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I would get Courtnall and Jonhnson "The Art of Violin Making" also, as well as some Strad Posters. I posted a step by step tutorial about carving a scroll step by step, here:

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?...t=0&start=0

I would start making a violin from the scratch, violin varnishing and refinishing is just a small part of it Good luck!

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I'd also point out that there's nothing "humble" about making a violin. Even making the attempt is a pretty audacious thing. I just watched part of a PBS show last night on the recent research regarding music's effects on the brain, and one idea that was suggested is that music is actually more ancient than language, and may in fact be inherent in the very cosmos, which would make the act of making instruments one of life's higher callings...

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I started by purchasing a very cheap broken violin and fixing it. Yes, repairing is different than making, but perhaps you should try basic repair to get your feet wet... familiarize yourself with the entire structure of a violin with minimal tools.

I'll probably step on a few toes here, but buying a violin in the white is too much of an instant payoff, with too little work involved. Granted, you can open the box and rework things, but really. :)

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I have to differ with the point of which tools you need. When I was a kid, I made my first knife from a cut-diagonal putty knife. I had a cheap chisle I shaped into a gouge. I actually wound up with a (crude) violin. It did not sound so bad at all, and I used it at my lessons.

The big hangup was learning to sharpen well. Even books on sharpening are not very good.

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I am wanting to start up to make a violin, as a hobby, then see where it goes from there. I was thinking probably a budget of around 500 dollars, a place to buy from and a bare essentials list of what is needed. I could possibly get to a workshop, so no need possibly for things like drill press, other hardware and so on.

I was just wondering what would be the bare essentials, I've been reviewing The Art of Violin Making, and know this will be a complicating project, which will take maybe half a year, But I need a place to buy the tools (recommended tools and beginning material and online supplier). Good wood to start with (I love flame), I am sure this will help many people in starting up, and I humbly say, thank you.

Aaron

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

Somehow I get the impression that making violins is not a profitable profession to get into.

If I am a young person, I would go to school and to get a college education to teach sciences.

There is always a demand for science teachers. In my spare time I would make violins or repair violins as a hobby.

It is more promising, less worry.

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I'd also point out that there's nothing "humble" about making a violin. Even making the attempt is a pretty audacious thing. I just watched part of a PBS show last night on the recent research regarding music's effects on the brain, and one idea that was suggested is that music is actually more ancient than language, and may in fact be inherent in the very cosmos, which would make the act of making instruments one of life's higher callings...

Coincidentally...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8117915.stm

Amazing how "modern" the scale sounds!

With regard to basic tools, I couldn't do anything without gouges and particularly my set of in-cannel gouges.

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Wow, your bare minimum is way more than I made my first violins with. My first violin was made without a single gouge. Sure tools can make the job easier but you don't have to have most of them to make a violin. I'm sure I'll leave some things off this list but my bare essentials list is something like this.

1. Chisels. A 1/4" and 3/4" is all I use, cheap ones from a flea market.

2. A working hand plane for joining plates and thinning sides.

3. Glue pot. A small "soup can" size crock pot is what I still use. Paid less than $20 for it.

4. A bending iron for the sides. A piece of steel pipe and a propane torch work.

5. A vice mounted to a sturdy work bench.

6. The steady workbench.

7. A peghole reamer

8. Peg shaper

9. Coping saw

10. Assorted clamps, most of which you can make or improves when needed.

11. Cheap hardware store calipers, you can build a fixture and use them as graduating calipers as well.

I think these are the most important tools. I think that anything beyond this is nice and makes the job easier but you can get away without. Definately can be done for less than $500, unless that is supposed to include materials.

No knives? Nary a finger plane, not even a scraper?

For minimalist making, I would want a good knife, couple of finger planes, coping saw, nice block plane...

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"Beginning humble luthier" Humility is not a prerequisite for violin making, it will slowly creep upon you.

As for tools needed to begin I would suggest purchasing the wood for top sides and back than acquiring tools for each step as you need them. Good luck. Henry

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