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What's on your bench?


Craig Tucker
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I am starting this topic because for me, violin making often becomes too full of significance and lacking in its pragmatic aspect. We all ponder, we guess, we talk and theorize and all the rest, and I enjoy it as much as the next schmuck, still, there's nothing like putting it all to the test.

Even when I don't have a specific goal in mind, I find that I am driven to start doing something, anything really, that doesn't involve sitting on my butt, even if it is the result of a conscious decision that I must start building to stave off a natural tendency to become lazy and nothing else. This project started off like that - but as I get involved with it I am finding that I am treading some new ground and am anxious to finish and see what happens.

I have some nice quilt Bigleaf maple, that I have been thinking about using. Originally I thought about this wood for violas, but I can't seem to be able to make that leap.

It is cut either on the slab or on the bias (between slab and quarter) and I decided to experiment with one of the less decorative pieces first, on a violin, in order to test the waters and determine my arch and thickness. I trimmed and book matched this piece (photo #2) and am going to use Bigleaf fiddleback for the ribs and neck. I have never liked most quilt for ribs or neck wood, so, it's going to be fiddleback for those.

I have blocked up the neck wedge with 1X6 pine wedges in order to have a square template surface to work with, so as not to wind up with slightly oblique volutes on the scroll.

Im curious, what's on your bench today?

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Just finished another "Milanollo" model violin. A 16" viola and another "Dolphin" model violin are each far enough along that the corpus is closed, but no neck installed. They will be the last ones I get done before the show April 30th, I think. Working on two scrolls, obviously. The viola is Red Maple from Elon Howe, in Michigan-- the violin is Bigleaf Maple. Both are Sitka spruce for the top.

I'll post poictures later.

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Just finished another "Milanollo" model violin. A 16" viola and another "Dolphin" model violin are each far enough along that the corpus is closed, but no neck installed. They will be the last ones I get done before the show April 30th, I think. Working on two scrolls, obviously. The viola is Red Maple from Elon Howe, in Michigan-- the violin is Bigleaf Maple. Both are Sitka spruce for the top.

I'll post poictures later.

Nice.

Photos will be appreciated, Chet.

I've bought and used Elon's wood before - he is an interesting fellow.

Out of curiosity, where are you getting your Sitka, do you mind if I ask??

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I've got a violin assembled except for the back plate, just waiting for the right piece of wood to come along for the back. I'm going to have to start stockpiling more wood as I've pretty much used up all the maple I put up 25 years ago. If I was smart, I would have kept putting wood away even during the interim when I wasn't building.

We used to have a local hardwood shop that had every kind of exotic wood imaginable, and a very nice stock of Eastern Sugar Maple and Bigleaf rough sawn billets, some as large as 16/4 with beautiful flame and reasonable rpi, all quarter sawn. I sure wish I had bought more of it then.

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Not all "on the bench", but more like "irons in the fire"

* Snakefiddle II, in the white and strung up for the week. Will wait until this weekend to start the detail and varnishing.

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* Beginning processing of 4 sets of wood

* Beginning design of forms for making 4 fiddles in one batch

* Clearing out space for the new bandsaw: Agazzani 24" monster. Don't really need it, but I don't have a Sawzall and need to manlify my shop somehow.

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Started the day by rehairing a bow (which meant I had to clean up the bench a bit).

My 4th fiddle has been sunning for a week or so, though sun is scarce today. I'm thinking of putting on the first ground coat today, or maybe tomorrow. After playing Dr. Sloan's Strad last summer, with its great sound and high arching, I made this one with a 17.5 mm high top arch and 16.2 on the back (that's all I could squeeze out of that one). An experiment, and I haven't strung it up yet to even try.

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For the afternoon, in between a couple fiddle lessons, I will push number 5 along a bit. It's the same mold as all of my fiddles so far. I'm trying to adjust various parameters to learn what does what, in addition to just improving my carving skills. This rib assembly is the first one that I've tapered, about 1 mm from the upper blocks to the neck block. The maple was an interesting piece, twisty and tough -- gave me a work-out to get flat. I think it's pretty, but I anticipate difficulty carving it.

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Well, the 1/2 bass just went out the door, saddle crack from the weather changes, next is a violin reassembled from fixing a back seem open from the weather, finish up a violin knocked out of adjustment by a blue haired lady running into the performer at the nursing home program ( using a walker no less), a violin from an auction needing finishing set up and if i get to it a full size bass with the neck broken out of the mortice (the button graft is done)what i really want to get started on is the archlute - nice shaded yew back that has a buch of splits from the weather.

Reese

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Hi all!

I'm just finishing my violin number 4 after the Kreisler del Gesu. Varnish is finished, I glued the saddle this evening and will glue the fingerboard tomorrow, then proceed with the bridge, etc. A violinist friend of mine comes on sunday for lunch, so I WANT this violin to be playable until then!

Oh, I also have a nice Linhof 4x5 camera on my bench, which I just received some days ago. It just needed some cleening and slight lubricating, but now I don't know where to store it until I will be using it, so it still lies on the bench...

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....I’m curious, what's on your bench today?

I'm repairing an old violin whose back and lower bass rib were deformed by ambitious chinrest clamping. The first picture shows the problem area before I took the violin apart. The second shows the back being pressed flat, the rib having a small piece re-glued to it and the form that I made for pressing the rib. The violin also needs a new fingerboard.

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Craig,

Most of my sitka has come from John Tepper, of Tepper Tonewoods, in Shady Cove, OR. It has always been good. He has englemann, as well...

This particular piece was given to me by a guy who bought wood 45 years ago, and never built the violin...he is dying (I am told) and wanted to see it become a violin. So the back, ribs and top are from what he had. Don't know if the neck billet got lost over the decades, or if he never had it, but the neck came from Tepper Tonewoods, and matches admirably. I have no idea of the origins of the rest.

Chet

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You don't want to see what's on my bench. Looks like the messy bench thread. Been working mostly upstairs, and junk just gets piled up on it. I have this one nearly ready to put together. Working on finishing the plates up and making a fingerboard from 2 X 2 X 12 stock. I have the wedge on it, now I need the sides cut and plane the radius. This ebony planes nice. Almost slipped on the floor though. It was covered in wax and it made the floor slippery! Then I'll need to turn up some pegs, and ger some strings. The strings are always in short supply.

Ken

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In between simple repairs I'm trying to finish my fourth 3/4 (#60 overall). First two are gone and have a prospect for the third. This is my own design, with a one piece European back and unidentified medium density spruce inherited from Charles Gadd. I suspect he hauled it from somewhere out west and may have cut and split it himself (hinted in conversation). The top is on, trimmed and purfled, and the neck fitted. I still have a little work to do on the neck and scroll before I glue it in.

Lyle

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Today was a good day. I finished two cello bows. I Pretty much haired them, stamped them, gripped them, and polished them. Most of the dusty, purple work came last week. Finished them today, off to Tennessee cello camp tomorrow, and I'm not even working until midnight to get them done before I leave.

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