Basic Peg and End Pin Reaming


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One thing that I have tried to be careful with but have found to be extremely difficult is keeping the peg hole reamer straight and true when reaming out the peg holes and end pin hole in a new instrument. I can usually keep it true in one plane but invariably when doing this by hand the reamer drifts in one direction or the other in the perpendicular plane.

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You can see my A and E-String pegs didn't turn out as well as would be desired. An aesthetic mistake that is not really fixable. :wacko:

End pin errors are a little less obvious but visible when you look close.

Do people have some trick or some "jig" set up to keep the reamer traveling straight? I'm not anxious to repeat this on my next instruments.

Thanks!

Joe

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Not exactly a trick, but one thing I was taught is to start with smaller bits, then a smaller reamer first, and work in small increments instead of trying to go too fast. That allows for more opportunity to make corrections. 3 or 4 bits, and 2 reamers gives lots of room to refine and correct.

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On new instruments I don't add the holes till the varnish is totally done. I find it is easier to apply.

After laying out the peg positions on the bass side only, I drill all the holes (small) with a hand held gimlet.

After breaking through the bass wall, I carefully position the gimlet so all planes are correct (takes practice and eye-training), and strike the treble wall with the tip of the gimlet, then proceed to drill through, stopping just short of the outside wall, and finishing it off from the outside. (I stop so just the pin prick tip of the gimlet is exposed.)

Then the smallest reamer, slowly and evenly, bigger, till I'm where I want to be.

For the end button, I drill the hole on a drill press right after I remove the ribs from the mold, while the block is still nice and square. This gives me a good start with a straight hole. It's still easy to screw up, so go slow.

Good luck.

Gimlet follows:

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Hi Joe, If you drilling your peg holes with a bench drill while the neckblock is still square (so you can be confident that they run straight) you could fit dowels to the other holes while you're reaming the first 3 as a guide to straightness, then put the pegs (or shaved dowels) in to guide the reaming of the remaining one.

You could fix your wonky fitting quite easily by rebushing the holes. I would be tempted to do this if I were you - they are pretty wonky!

Pegs seem rather thick, also.

Edit: posts above appeared while i was typing - I agree its very helpful to start with a smaller reamer.

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...After laying out the peg positions on the bass side only, I drill all the holes (small) with a hand held gimlet. After breaking through the bass wall, I carefully position the gimlet so all planes are correct (takes practice and eye-training), and strike the treble wall with the tip of the gimlet, then proceed to drill through, stopping just short of the outside wall, and finishing it off from the outside...

This seems like a good method to me. I will get a gimlet and try it.

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Hi Joe, If you drilling your peg holes with a bench drill while the neckblock is still square (so you can be confident that they run straight) you could fit dowels to the other holes while you're reaming the first 3 as a guide to straightness, then put the pegs (or shaved dowels) in to guide the reaming of the remaining one.

You could fix your wonky fitting quite easily by rebushing the holes. I would be tempted to do this if I were you - they are pretty wonky!

Pegs seem rather thick, also.

Edit: posts above appeared while i was typing - I agree its very helpful to start with a smaller reamer.

Thanks for the comments. I really appreciate objectivity. All I'm looking to do is to improve. ^_^ And on the first violin there were details that came out only after I had screwed them up! :D Thick pegs = didn't have a peg shaper yet (how embarrassing) Which I have corrected since.

Is there a aesthetically correct size for new pegs? I understand now why not to leave pegs too big as when the holes wear there is not place to but rebushing the hole. Or make big fat custom pegs.

I actually wasn't aware there were different "sizes" of reamers.

I did drill the peg holes when the neck was still square with the outline trimmed in my drill press according to Johnson and Courtnall.

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I think I used a 3/16" drill to start. I could see at this point putting a modified reamer (minus handle) in the drill chuck and reaming manually to a reasonable size while the neck is still square. That sounds like a decent approach.

I will look into getting a smaller reamer as well.

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Is there a aesthetically correct size for new pegs?



An 8mm diameter, measured at the collar, with 12mm from pegbox to collar is pretty standard for new instruments. I think 7.5mm is about the minimum diameter you can go before it starts looking odd. Some makers measure from the pegbox to the end of the peg, which may make more sense when you consider the variety of peghead shapes and sizes. Cheers,
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I could see at this point putting a modified reamer (minus handle) in the drill chuck and reaming manually to a reasonable size while the neck is still square. That sounds like a decent approach.

Don't.

Violin reamers work great by hand, not so much spinning in a drill press. If you are going to use this method just drill a hole small enough to just allow the reamer to start, finish the violin, and then ream. Doing it by hand goes fast enough.

Tip: If you are using a squared neck block and a drill press to start your holes, it helps to drill one side to just below the center line, then flip it and drill the other hole to the same depth, rather then all the way through in one go. If you have a truly square block and laid out everything correctly, the two holes should meet. Satisfying when they do, frustrating when they do not.

In my opinion, on new violins, smaller is the watchword for pegs and holes. In general, small diameter pegs will work better then thick ones. And over the life our your violins, the peg holes will only get larger.

Brad, I started using this method only for bushings, but it translated well to new instruments and I'm very happy with the control I "feel" I have.

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Straight reaming is partly a function of a light touch and the rest constantly checking the angle visually. I angle the end pin hole slightly upward these days, based upon seeing that recommendation somewhere and also seeing a lot of end pins that are no longer at a right angle to the block.

If you don't have a shaver, how did you fit the pegs to the holes?

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Straight reaming is partly a function of a light touch and the rest constantly checking the angle visually.

Yeah, it's one of those multi-anlge awareness things, probably a lot harder than texting while driving.

I'll usually take it part of the way, set it aside for a while, and then come back to it with "fresh eyes" to take it the rest of the way, with needed corrections.

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David makes a very good point...normally we can spot something that is at an odd angle really easily with a fresh eye...this is the best threshold to work to!

Normally when reaming it is a good idea to finish by turning the reamer in reverse to compress and burnish the hole.

Personally I can't get on with spiral reamers. Do any members here like them?

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Normally when reaming it is a good idea to finish by turning the reamer in reverse to compress and burnish the hole.

Personally I can't get on with spiral reamers. Do any members here like them?

They excel at back reaming (compression) - that's predominantly what mine gets used for, is a great finisher. Also it occasionally gets me out of trouble when reaming into an area with bushings and new wood. Likewise, I have a very dull reamer that also gets me out of trouble sometimes.

I'll also vote in favor of David's suggestion, walking away and coming back to fitting a set of pegs is a great idea.

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Some great advice so far! I personally start with the A peg (although any one would probably work), and make sure I get it as close as I can - often I'll try to check two angles at once by holding the violin not straight up and down in front of me. Also, if it starts wandering one way (lets say for instance it goes up) it will almost invariable wander in another plane at the same time (to the side), so you would have to try to correct both planes at the same time.

To make the rest of the pegs, I will leave the finished A peg in the pegbox and use that as a guide, moving down to the D,E then G (leaving them in when finished). The result is that the pegs are relatively straight to one another, and if they are slightly of parallel they will all (hopefully) be out of parallel together. It is important to make sure the pegs left in don't get hit by the reamer. Sometimes I'll temporarily take one out to make things easier then put it back in again to check the angles.

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Some great advice so far! I personally start with the A peg (although any one would probably work), and make sure I get it as close as I can - often I'll try to check two angles at once by holding the violin not straight up and down in front of me. Also, if it starts wandering one way (lets say for instance it goes up) it will almost invariable wander in another plane at the same time (to the side), so you would have to try to correct both planes at the same time.

To make the rest of the pegs, I will leave the finished A peg in the pegbox and use that as a guide, moving down to the D,E then G (leaving them in when finished). The result is that the pegs are relatively straight to one another, and if they are slightly of parallel they will all (hopefully) be out of parallel together. It is important to make sure the pegs left in don't get hit by the reamer. Sometimes I'll temporarily take one out to make things easier then put it back in again to check the angles.

Having a visual guide sounds like a good approach... Thanks!

Yes I discovered the danger when I chipped a nice peg with the reamer on my #1 and had to substitute a "look alike" which wasn't quite the same.

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I have a couple of delrin mandrels about 8 inches long that I made to expand-compress spirol bushings in place that I use to align peg & endpin holes when reaming. The length of the mandrel gives a good expanded visual for aligning the reaming. After installing bushings, I lightly ream undersize then fit the mandrel for a reading on alignment. As my straight and helical reamers have cutting flutes on half of the diameter, I can lightly ream one side of the small hole on one side of the pegbox and the opposite side of the large hole on the other side of box. Staying undersize, when the holes are aligned, I finish ream to size on both holes then reverse turn for burnishing.

The majority of stuff I work on, I own and more often than not, I install planetary pegs. The violin in these photos is a German Stainer copy that I'm refurbishing.

Steve

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Couldn't you just re-bush them? Still something aesthetic, at least they would be straight though.

The scroll looks great!

Yes you are right. I hadn't considered rebushing to repair it. In my mind, that is what you do repairing an old worn pegbox. :)

So what is typically used to fill the hole, plain maple dowel? Or take a scrap from the original neck (if I can find it) and try to shape that in the peg shaver? Second option sounds harder.

Thanks on the scroll compliment. I actually screwed up on the original eye so to fix the mistake I made an extra turn. :D

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There should be a small stepdown (~1mm) between the fingerboard/nut platform and the pegbox walls.

I always wondered if that step was intentional in all the violin samples I've had the opportunity to examine. I don't recall that detail in the Johnson and Courtnall book. Good to know for next time.

Every detail on a violin serves a purpose. What might its purpose be?

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Every detail on a violin serves a purpose. What might its purpose be?

I am sure it's in C&J.

The scroll front is slightly below the surface plane on which the FB sits + the stepdown both make it easier to plane the neck without damaging the scroll or pegbox walls.

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