My First Big Repair Job - This violin needs it all....


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Hello all, I know this is an old thread, but I've been slowly and steadily doing work to this instrument and thought it would be good to update it with some pics of my progress. Before I post t

I would, and keep the repair to a single piece of wood. Also, you plan to cleat across the bar crack as well?

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If I could add a couple of words about labels. I have a great sounding violin with what appeared to be a very authentic ancient label. I took a closeup photo of it to get some id. I then zoomed in on the closeup and what did I find? Half tone printing. Background was all dots. Someone in the printing industry pointed out to me that this style of printing was only introduced in the 1880s.

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Why would you use full bushings when you can do the job with spirals?

Spiral bushings = less work, stronger (wood fibers forming a circular rim around the hole), no chance of drilling the peg hole wrong, and you don't have to buy the boxwood bushings.

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In your case, you only need to make a small change to the taper, there are no cracks. Using traditional bushings would require that you over-ream the holes quite a bit, removing lots of original wood. A spiral bushing is effective even when it is fairly thin, the grain of the bushing runs around the peghole. They are also much easier to conceal.

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Trying to do a text tutorial on this would be tough, and I don't have any pictures. I'll have to see if I can stage some photos to illustrate things.

A couple quick points on the process.

Material- I've tried several things, and had best luck with maple planings and material from "red rope"(Google it) folders. I have made pre-made spiral bushings from the "red rope" material, but that requires a special form to make the bushings.

The spirals have to be wound counter-clockwise, when viewed from the peg head side, to avoid tear-out when reaming.

I use Titebond or Casein glue for this, as it might take a couple of minutes to get the bushing snug and even in the hole.

More later. Might take a couple of days. I'll post it as a new topic.

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Doug, I would love to see your process on spiral bushings as W/S is sadly brief on the subject. Specifically I would like to see pictures of the finished product as I am having trouble visualizing how wrapped craft paper or maple shavings look on the outside of the pegbox.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I decided I would give craft paper a try for my first spiral bushings. I bought a roll of it over at Staples. We are talking about the simple rolls of brown paper, right? (Like what you would use to wrap a parcel) .

Anyway, I've read it's best to use titebond or simple woodglue for the wrapping process. Do you also glue in the bushings with woodglue, or hide glue?

Also, how many layers (or turns) should I shoot for?

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  • 7 months later...

It's been a while, but I thought I would update this thread. I actually finished restoring this violin last year, but have only now had time to take pictures of it. Actually, the restoration was so successful that I now play this violin almost exclusively. I can't take the credit for it's excellent sound as clearly it always sounded good as evidenced by those extreme divots in the original fingerboard. (see first post).

This restoration just about had it all and I'm so thankful I did it. It's given me confidence I didn't know I had and an even greater desire to continue to rehabilitate broken instruments. Mind you, the repairs were not perfect, or even right in some cases, but they work. Hopefully I'll do better on the next one. Thank you all for you advice, criticism, and encouragement. It's what keeps me coming back.

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Thanks Chet, I've become rather attached to it. I can honestly say it looks as good as it sounds. One of the best lower registers I've played on a violin and the cleanest A & E I had the pleasure to have under my ears. Over the last year it's really opened up quite a bit. I was afraid it would only sound good for while (you know, what happens after after you cut a new soundpost), but luckily that never happened. Can't wait to get the next one done.

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Don't mind Lyndon. I'm not quite sure what he's trying to say, but it doesn't sound positive or encouraging. I really wish he would at least learn how to produce a semi functional sentence in English. It's very hard to determine what he's trying to convey most times.

Jeremy, congratulations of finishing up what looked to be a long term project; I'm sure you've learned many things along the way. You can be proud that you've resurrected an instrument that likely would have been cast aside by someone with less determination and tenacity.

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Bill,

Thanks for your kind words and encouragement. Admittedly this violin was far gone when I received it, but I couldn't help myself. I need to learn and it was a good candidate. It was pure icing that it ended up being a great player.

To address Lyndon's remarks, I can only say each to his own. Admittedly beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I tend to gravitate towards the "well used" appearance of less-expensive antiques (over better preserved specimens) and hence find an extra measure of loveliness in something rough-handled. I'm especially drawn to Tyrolean violins, especially the ones that appear sat on. While I do think the violin above has remarkable features (i.e. F-holes, profile), I'm really attracted to the things that you probably like the least. Since I'm not in the business of selling violins, I need-not be concerned with what someone else would think of my taste.

The shine you see is simply the artifact of a recent cleaning. The varnish was coated with a thick layer of resin and dirt when I got it, and a little mild handsoap and water did wonders. I did not re varnish or french polish this instrument. I took some very low angle high-contrast pics next to an open window hoping to show the texture better, please do not mistake a lighting feature for shiny varnish.

As for your comments regarding my repair abilities, I have no doubt I could have done better. In my defense, I must state the cracks in the lower left belly were in a bad way and pretty chewed up on the top of the instrument. Probably back-flexing and previous repair jobs contributed to the damage. I pulled them together the best I could, but I have no illusions that it could be more successfully done by others, even perhaps yourself.

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Hi Jeremy, Steve here. I enjoyed looking at your fiddle just now, it looks like it would be a lot of fun to play too. I think that for your first repair job it seems pretty nice work and more than anyone should expect.

In other contexts I have seen this style of antique restoration called "sympathetic restoration", where the restorer did not deliberately try to conceal flaws at all, just left them solidly repaired but there for all to see, a living record of the long history of an object.

However, if (in an imaginary world) this were a rare and valuable violin you'd discovered and were entrusted to restore... what in your opinion would be an approach to make those cracks in the lower belly completely invisible; would this involve "washing" out the cracks with certain chemicals? If so, which?

Further, how would you deal with the "wavy" character of the top, the hills and valleys around the long cracks. As an aside, I have seen amateurs try to even things out by simply sanding (to disastrous effect)- I'm sure this is shunned by serious luthiers, of course. Penny for your thoughts. Good job.

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