Pegbox wall pain


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So O.K. Now I am curious.

I was in no way advocating bashing away like a maniac at the pegbox. At the same time, there are much more important things to do. So to get rid of all that pesky wood stuck in what should be a clean and clear pegbox, what does one do?

I say leave as much meat on as possible/reasonable and get on with it, then get to the fun stuff.

Now, the way that I do that is with a drill press, a few chisels, and a "hammer".(My hammer is a chunk of maple, filled with ball bearings, that fits easily into the palm of my hand.) The drill press is mostly for the depth, but also for getting rid of wood.

In light of the two implied rejections of the "hammer" and chisel method, how else do people go about getting the wood out that's not more aggressive then a chisel?

Understand, I'm not talking about finish work, but removing wood.

If I carve wood, am I not to bash?

If I am to bash, where?

If ever a part of a violin begged for bashing, would it not be the pegbox?

If you search your hearts, perhaps you will find a pegbox waiting to be bashed.

Seriously though, I am curious.

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As a semi-beginner, this is my method at the moment, after roughing the scroll and finishing the outside walls of the pegbox:

1. Mark limts of pegbox and drill a few holes to locate the depth

2. Supporting the scroll in a vise using the waste wood from the bandsaw cutout, bash out a narrow box with a 1/4" chisel, leaving plenty of wood on the walls (and being careful not to break out the back edge where the grain runs out)

3. Thin the sidewalls with a small-radius gouge (prevents tearout)

4. After strengthening the back edge by saturating it with glue or some of David's tough old shellac, I pare it back with a knife.

5. Scrape, file, or whatever... if I feel like smoothing it out more.

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As a semi-beginner, this is my method at the moment, after roughing the scroll and finishing the outside walls of the pegbox:

1. Mark limts of pegbox and drill a few holes to locate the depth

2. Supporting the scroll in a vise using the waste wood from the bandsaw cutout, bash out a narrow box with a 1/4" chisel, leaving plenty of wood on the walls (and being careful not to break out the back edge where the grain runs out)

3. Thin the sidewalls with a small-radius gouge (prevents tearout)

4. After strengthening the back edge by saturating it with glue or some of David's tough old shellac, I pare it back with a knife.

5. Scrape, file, or whatever... if I feel like smoothing it out more.

Nothing wrong with that.

The interesting thing about Melvin's original point is that by doing the pegbox first, it changes the perspective of the rest of the process. The head of a violin as a construct around a negative space, as opposed to a sculpture waiting for a hole.

When you save the pegbox for last there is always that pencil outline looking at you, waiting to be removed, as you do your best to create.

If you have taken it away at the beginning, there is only creation,or maybe formation, left for you, and maybe that puts you head in a different place.

Or maybe it's late and I've had too much bourbon.

Good luck however you do it. :D

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I like to drill the 1/4" pilot holes for the pegs immediately after cutting the outline on the bandsaw. When hollowing out the pegbox, these pilot holes are a good indication of how deep you need to carve for the floor. I like to leave the floor as thick as possible while still allowing plenty of room for the string clearance wound on the pegs.

I've had some bad experiences with cracked pegbox walls on older violins, so I tend to leave everything slightly thicker than average on my own to maintain some robustness. Maybe in the future, some repair person may thank me for the foresight.

My scrolls always look best after a few shots of rum.

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I could understand using some hammer and chisel for a bass or a cello pegbox, but for a violin? I haven't made many violins but I used a simple 8mm round gouge to take off most of the wood and a small chisel to finish most of the work. I didn't have to apply much pressure on the wood. It seems to me that most of the strain is on the bottom of the pegbox when you dig the mouth, and as soon as you cut the overal shape of the scroll then you're done. Does having much wood on each side and on the volute make any difference in the resistance of the whole thing?

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In light of the two implied rejections of the "hammer" and chisel method, how else do people go about getting the wood out that's not more aggressive then a chisel?

Understand, I'm not talking about finish work, but removing wood.

As already mentioned, a common way is to remove as much material as one safely can with a drill (a hand drill if you wish), and that makes it pretty easy to clean up the remainder with chisels and knives. Nothing against doing the inside first, That makes it easy to clamp firmly in a vise, and go at it with both hands (maybe even bracing the hands against the chest, and moving the whole torso to cut), which gives more control at high effort levels.

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Interesting, Melvin. What leads you to this conclusion?

Hi John,

Sorry not to reply earlier.

Viewed from the front most original old Cremonese pegbox cavities are mortises constructed from straight lines. ( at angles). Cutting a mortise is one of the first things a young apprentice woodworker will learn to do well and it is something that can be done very fast ( as things must be in a commercial World) if the wood being cut can be held securely and will not be broken by the vigorous effort ....then all the better and faster.

Below is a diagram of the stage in the development of the scroll block when I hollow the peg box.

post-23531-0-97513400-1349291955_thumb.jpg

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I've only carved a handful of scrolls so far, so I'm no expert. As with others, on my first couple of scrolls, I hollowed the pegbox last, as is taught in various books. Then, after hearing from others in various forums and venues, I started hollowing the pegbox before finishing the outside. I also dispensed with the drill-press. Maybe I'm slow at the mechanical side, but often I could get the pegbox hollowed in the time it would take me to set-up the drill-press.

I hold the pegbox like this, in a parrot vise on the bench.

post-24063-0-39272900-1349296081_thumb.jpg

The hollowing shown here is not to the final stage, but close.

Like Bill Yacey mentioned earlier, I drill the peg-holes before this stage, and use them to gauge my depth. The tool I use to evacuate most of the wood is one I just happened to have lying about, but it works well. It's a Swiss made #11 sweep veiner, 4mm wide. The long length allows for plenty of torque on the cut, and it's not too hard to sharpen.

As to the original post, regarding finishing the inside of the walls, I don't have much to add, except that I find it easier to do so when the block is still square and in the vise. I use a sharp flat gouge, go slow, and still get some tear-out. I hope that most of that is hidden by pegs, strings, and shadows in the final product. :)

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the most important thing to keep in mind is that the Scroll is built around the pegbox mortice in the classical old Cremonese.

The mortice was the first step done after the head outline was sawed out. Held in a vice and with a hammer a chisel could do this mortice in a minute or so...the next step was to form a scroll around it..

As John said where are you getting your info on this?

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If you carve out the pegbox too soon you have to careful not to make it too wide. Then when you finish the neck to is appropriate width the side walls of the pegbox might be too narrow unless you leave a shoulder. I have never had a problem carving a pegbox after establishing the width of the neck at the nut end. I do seal the edge and cut the outline with a knife before using my small chisel. I smooth the sides and the base of the pegbox with a small rasps, files and metal sandpaper called "duragrit".

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As John said where are you getting your info on this?

Hi Nathan,

Now I have time to reply properly , sorry for my previous response which was not worthy of your very legitimate question.

These are thoughts I have come up with from looking at some of the more pristine old Cremonese that I have been lucky to see. I could be completely wrong of course! I assume you read what I wrote in post 34 of this thread. Another thing I will add is that viewed from the front elevation Cremonese pegboxes are generally in straight lines whereas the backs are often less so....particularly on Strads....seeming slightly fuller and curvier down the back.

A lot of my work involves copying old Italians and looking at the originals...there is nothing unique in that but this is where my 'theory' comes from. When I look at a classic old fiddle I try to work out how it was made and try to have a handle on how the process effects the result...In terms of sheer speed and practicality the idea of the pegbox being hastily morticed before the delicate elaboration of the scroll is carved around it seems an obvious way to proceed....

Thanks for your interest.

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Melvin

My own thinking on this is that while the back of the scroll and pegbox were layed out using a mathematically laid out template( as seen in the Strad relics collection) the top of the pegbox is to some degree determined by the depth of cutting on the scroll volute. In my own work I definitely want to be able to adjust the width at the throat to give a smooth flow into the volute as was common in the Amati and Ruggieri types. I can then use a pencil spaced from the outside of the pegbox or a hermaphrodite caliper to lay out the inside line of the box Since I do this after the volute is completed but not yet fluted It's a matter of a half hour to drill a line of offset holes down the center of the pegbox and then use a small in-cannel gouge to remove the waste and finish the box with chisels. I think that scrolls which have a bump at the juncture of the pegbox sides to the volute might be explained by a working method like you describe but really don't see any advantage to that method. On a tangent to this have you seen marks from a drill bit on the bottoms of classic scrolls? I don't recall seeing this but assume there are some. Lastly I have been trying to use a rounded corner in the top corners of the peg box to strengthen this area and avoid the possibility of A-peg cracks and was wondering if anyone has seen older instruments where this was done.

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Lastly I have been trying to use a rounded corner in the top corners of the peg box to strengthen this area and avoid the possibility of A-peg cracks and was wondering if anyone has seen older instruments where this was done.

According to Roger Hargrave:

"The purest surviving pegbox interiors are those of the “Cannon†and the “Alardâ€. The bottoms and ends have been finished with a small rounded gouge, wide enough to cover the broadest part of the base with about three rough strokes."

http://www.roger-hargrave.de/PDF/Book/Chap_03_The_Head_PRN.pdf pg.26

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I always made this area of the pegbox rounded. In fact I thought it was common practice because it was easier to use a rounded gouge at this place to cut the wood by simply rotating a little bit the wrist. A flat chisel would rather have to be pushed.

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I think that the design of the box, position of the holes and the grain direction are most important to ensure a strong box. I can see the value of the extra wood in the rounded end, although I think that the top could still be cut straight across. This is what is done at the nut end of a cello box, and the roundness disappears into the woodwork. I think that many of the old makers weren't too fussed about the perfect finishing of the inside of the pegbox, and nor am I.

You sometimes see the top end decorated. I had a Grosselet viola with a little half circle gouged out at the centre, and I've seen other French violins the same. Here's a snap of what I think is a very early English pegbox with a little decoration.

post-30909-0-19029700-1349645987_thumb.jpg

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