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What's on your bench?


Craig Tucker
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On the bench now, Three violins for repair:

1. Old German Trade Violin. Crack down full length of belly, just outside the sound post, cracks in lower ribs both sides of the end pin.

2. Old German Trade Violin. Crack on upper side of bass side f hole, 1" crack on trebble side of saddle.

3. Unknown older violin. Center seam seperatetion on back side, top plate seperations on both lower bouts and on upper bout trebble side.

The one most important thing that is not on my bench at this time is ME, due to a unforseen 93 mile (each way) commute every day to my real job that pays for my "fiddle fun". Can't wait for that to end.

-----Barry

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I just started a violin using a popular board I bought at Home Depot. I will fashion the back out of this. The neck will be laminated popular. I bought a thinner piece of popular I can plane down for ribs. The top will be pine, and the fingerboard will be maple. I have 3 violins that I have just completed the varnish and setup. These instruments are of the traditional spruce, maple variety but I will hang on to them for a few weeks and let them season a bit. The popular violin is being built to satisfy my curiosity. I also have a bow under construction on my bench, but it is of the longbow variety, and I am researching the best way to make arrows.

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I'm still messing with a Kloz copy. I repaired and cleated the front cracks and touched up the back w/spirit varnish and pleased with the results. I wiped down the front (prior post w/comments suggesting revarnish) with ethanol and the resulting color was pleasing. However, I tried to put some additional color coats on top and was not pleased with the result. The last color coat didn't look good and I created a mess trying to wipe it off. So went back down to the original color and started again. When I was checking the seams in the dark with a light, I notice that the top is pretty thin. I decided not to replace the integral bass bar and have glued the top back on (I want to see what it sounds like). Right now I am trying to cut the shine of the clear coat with wet sand w/micromesh, but not pleased with the results and might have to do another clear coat. Also been working on the bridge.

Lastly, the color varnish experience taught me that my bench lighting was awful so I have yanked out the fluorescent fixture (only partly working) and need to finish some drywall repairs to the ceiling and install the halogen fixture I picked up. I thought between a shop light, the half working fixture, and the window over the bench that I was fine, but when I took the violin out to full sunlight I found out that was not the case and that was what resulted in me starting the top varnish again.

Hope to have the violin strung up this weekend and see how it sounds.

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Hi CT:

Are you using a slot cutter on a router table to thickness your plate edges?

The depth of cut (horizontally) is so even is why I ask...

Best regards,

Ernie

No, but close.

The edge is still thick, around 5mm. And I had carved it way down before routing it..., this Dremel router is nice for doing things like this (cleaning up the edge - routing the purfling channel, etc.) but will not remove a lot of wood in one pass.

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Ken,

Nice ground! What are you using?

Had to hang these out to find the bench....careening through Feb......

on we go,

Joe

Thank you, Joe. My ground is the same as before, diluted amber bulls-eye shellac, Zinsser, from the hardware store. The idea is from Michael Darnton.

Some day I will learn more about varnish. It does drive me nuts. I'd like to get out to your varnish workshop, but funds and time are limited these days.

Nice looking cellos. I particularly like the shot of the backs. Good to know a little snow doesn't bother you! I find when I hang 'em out in the winter, I don't get so many bugs stuck to the varnish.

Cheers,

Ken

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Here's a fair warning for anyone who decides to try slabbed quilt Bigleaf maple.

I hope you like working Rubik's cube type puzzles.

This grain goes everywhere, and, even though I just put a new razor sharp edge on the gouge and finger plane, (toothed blade even) I am tearing out pieces every once in a while - and I'm working slowly and methodically.

It is very hard - very tempermental wood.

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Don't misunderstand me, I'm not suggesting that it isn't worth using, only that it's unpredictable and prone to tear out. I wouldn't hesitate to bandsaw rib material from quilt, but I think I'd cut it close enough (which is easy on a bandsaw), so that it could be final scrapped and bent, without a lot of planing down.

I think I'd also be careful to laminate the linings on very solidly to the rib curve. I'm guessing that slab cut ribs would really need the ply for stability more than just the added gluing surface.

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I agree with the fine bandsawing idea. I cut some big leaf ribs two weeks ago by hand, and then reduced with a plane. I found that I had to work in very tiny swipes at a 45 across the grain to get good results, and then scrape. Reducing or removing the planing process would be ideal.

It was hard working with the grain oriented 'properly', so I can only imagine the squirrely slab issue.

The one good thing, it seems to bend easily.

big leaf maple:

ribRough.jpg

ribInstall.jpg

A fun scroll repair:

scrollRepairSML.jpg

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I currently have a violin on my bench made in 2002 by a local luthier (Joliet, IL.) I've been handling his personal collection and shop inventory for his family since his retirement due to poor health. A number of his instruments in his shop were found built, varnished but never fitted with components. I knew they hadn't even been strung up in the white as the peg holes had to be reamed out. I decided to set up one of these instruments just last week. Sounds great, better than anything else in the collection that I have. A little rubbing out of the varnish and its good to go.

Unfortunately he'll never get to hear it, as I just received word today that he passed away just the other day. I never got to meet Mr. E., I only know him from the instruments, bows and tools he left behind.

I always enjoy that moment when a new instrument comes to life for the very first time and I'm the first person to hear it, and its up to me to give the violin it's voice. I can't count how many new instruments I've set up over the years that were built by anonymous factory workers who never got to hear the fruits of their labors. However this one was very different and special.

Farewell Mr. E.

img0389q.jpg

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Hi Craig...

I've been experimenting with a lot of bridge designs lately but so far nothing to crow about. I like my new peg design and have gotten a little quicker at making them. I had to do my first peg bushing job to turn my last violin from a lefty to a righto (trainee F/U). I'll refinish the box when I decide the bushings will be OK . I used maple, hickory, tulip, and box wood for bushings to see if one would work better than another. I just finished a couple of flutes. The larger one has vertical grain on each of the six sides, and both have amber shellac under spar varnish. I'm still waiting for a chunk of asphalt for use on a Knilling that I'm experimenting with finish, graduation, and bridge design on. I figure If I can turn that into a good looking, good sounding instrument, I can quit my day job and become a magician.

The winged fetish design on the flutes are a new development as are the angled back and chin rest design for my violins. I've got a walnut back and a fir top that I plan on using for my next one. A picture of the walnut back was added to my previous post.

Later...

Rick

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I'm working on a copy of the Ole Bull.

I've had a bad time with the scroll learning

that just pasting a photocopy to each side

won't bring the eyes into alignment. So far

I liked template I made to go around the scroll.

It has a pleasing taper to it. I came up with

a way to clamp the scroll to the bench I was

happy with.

Sigh! I have

to try again.

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Here's a fair warning for anyone who decides to try slabbed quilt Bigleaf maple.

I hope you like working Rubik's cube type puzzles.

This grain goes everywhere, and, even though I just put a new razor sharp edge on the gouge and finger plane, (toothed blade even) I am tearing out pieces every once in a while - and I'm working slowly and methodically.

It is very hard - very tempermental wood.

Hi Craig,

I am currently working on #9 also using slab cut quilted (soft?) maple ribs and a slab quilted (soft?) maple back. The neck will be cut on the quarter so the pattern will be on the bottom rather than the sides. I am getting little bits of tear out on the back so I am going to finish the arching with just sandpaper followed by a final gentle scraping with some very flexible scrapers. I used my oscillating sander to thickness the ribs to a thickness of ~1.25 mm with willow linings at ~2.2 mm. I have not started graduating the back but I will leave a bit thicker in the middle ... guessing at 5.5 mm. It will depend on its flexibility and tap tone.

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Hi Craig...

I've been experimenting with a lot of bridge designs lately but so far nothing to crow about.

The winged fetish design on the flutes are a new development as are the angled back and chin rest design for my violins. I've got a walnut back and a fir top that I plan on using for my next one. A picture of the walnut back was added to my previous post.

Rick

There was a guy here for a few years that designed a "new" bridge (Tim2 was his name IIRC) that remind me a lot of the direction you're headed in with some of your bridges. I think you'd like his bridge design for aesthetic reasons.

I never did hold out much hope for the "superior" design taking over the violin world, but on the other hand, they were designed with an artistic eye and were very elegant. I really liked the way they looked - the wood choice and everything else, looks wise was very nicely done.

At the time, I couldn't get him to part with one for love nor for money, as, at that time I was interested in trying a few of them on some of my violins and repairs, etc.

Eventually, I realized that there was something else going on other than an attempt to market them or to get any feedback, so I gave up trying. Asking about getting a hold of one for use, seemed to irritate him more than anything else. (oh well)

I wonder if there are any old posts of his around with photos, or, if he continued on and decided at some point to actually make them available to the public. (Anyone?)

IIRC there was some sort of training required in order to fit them "properly".

I hate all of the modern sound byte, crapola coolspeak, (almost as much as I hate using emoticons…) but your designs really are "outside the box..."

Cool designs, beautiful work.

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