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This is remarkably common. Is there any indication that the wood was treated in any way? I have seen this level of damage when wood was baked or fumed. In any case you can often swell out even pretty bad compression damage in untreated wood by dampening the area with water then applying a heated spatula to a damp cloth held over the area. I usually hold the top in my hand when applying the heat so I can feel if the varnish starts to get hot. The damage you showed is pretty bad but I've often been surprised at how much I could swell out.After the wood has swelled I put a thin size of glue with a pinch of alum so the wood hardens up.This picture also begs the question of what to do about fitting a post when there is minor damage and you aren't taking off the top.

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This is remarkably common. Is there any indication that the wood was treated in any way? I have seen this level of damage when wood was baked or fumed. In any case you can often swell out even pretty bad compression damage in untreated wood by dampening the area with water then applying a heated spatula to a damp cloth held over the area. I usually hold the top in my hand when applying the heat so I can feel if the varnish starts to get hot. The damage you showed is pretty bad but I've often been surprised at how much I could swell out.After the wood has swelled I put a thin size of glue with a pinch of alum so the wood hardens up.This picture also begs the question of what to do about fitting a post when there is minor damage and you aren't taking off the top.

Well, the surrounding wood sits at 3.5 mm, and the damage at it's deepest sits at around 2mm. I don't think there is any way to swell the wood out to a point of recovery. As I see it, in order to get rid of the gouge, you need to either regraduate the top, and reinforce the soundpost area, or put in a real soundpost patch and leave the rest of the top alone.

 

As to your last sentence, I can think of 2 violins where the top eventually came off and I said "Oh! That's why I can't get a SP to fit."  Swelling and a little scraping fixed one. Divots and dents can be worked with, but this..This is not minor damage to my eye, and had the violin been in perfect condition and I had tried to set it up and discovered this damaged, it would have been grounds for taking the top off. 

I'd appreciate your thoughts.

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I'd say that most would swell out. But even if it didn't, I certainly wouldn't make a full soundpost patch. I might just take a gouged shaving and press it in, or if needed, make a 'finger patch'. 

With all due respect, that ---- isn't going to swell out. :)

You can see where the spruce has actually been pushed aside, leaving no wood to swell out.

I'm leaning towards a small regraduation, and a surface patch over the (necessarily) thin soundpost area.

Thanks!

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I'm wondering how they got the vise grips through the f hole (or was it a truck winch cable)?  I'd do a solid soundpost patch just out of caution.  That picture gives me the willies.

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This picture also begs the question of what to do about fitting a post when there is minor damage and you aren't taking off the top.

You hope to hell that if the idiot was dumb enough to do this, that they were too dumb to do it in the correct place, leaving you a good surface to work with in the correct position :huh:

 

With all due respect, that ---- isn't going to swell out. :)

You can see where the spruce has actually been pushed aside, leaving no wood to swell out.

I'm leaning towards a small regraduation, and a surface patch over the (necessarily) thin soundpost area.

Thanks!

Eeek, why regraduate? I don't understand that.  I have never had much luck in steaming them out (maybe 50%). I commonly end up putting a small finger patch only to the depth necessary.  jeff

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Well, the surrounding wood sits at 3.5 mm, and the damage at it's deepest sits at around 2mm. I don't think there is any way to swell the wood out to a point of recovery. As I see it, in order to get rid of the gouge, you need to either regraduate the top, and reinforce the soundpost area, or put in a real soundpost patch and leave the rest of the top alone.

 

As to your last sentence, I can think of 2 violins where the top eventually came off and I said "Oh! That's why I can't get a SP to fit."  Swelling and a little scraping fixed one. Divots and dents can be worked with, but this..This is not minor damage to my eye, and had the violin been in perfect condition and I had tried to set it up and discovered this damaged, it would have been grounds for taking the top off. 

I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Argle

Despite my couple of years in a restoration shop I am really more of a maker so I hope some of the real restorers will weigh in on this. I think that regardless of what comes later I would still start by making some pin pricks in the compressed area then apply the water and heat to swell out what I could then I'd fit a small finger patch if needed and then add a thin surface veneer large enough to let a post be fitted and adjusted without digging in to the repaired area. I just had a violin in the shop today which had a post which seemed too close to the bridge and the owner wanted it adjusted. After moving it back and forth several times and finding it sounding unsatisfactory I moved it back to the area where it started and felt the post fall into a hole. The post simply doesnt fit except in that one position and while not ideal the instrument sounded better than when the post was hanging over the edge of the compressed area As you said I think taking the top off to repair the damage is eventually going to be the only way to deal with this.

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If you want my 2 cents, Jeff W., C. Russell and Nathan are correct.  Swell out the wood as much as possible before deciding to do anything else.  If you don't you'll be doing some sort of repair over compressed wood.  Not good.

 

I hate to say something like "if the fiddle is decent", but maybe that has something to do with your approach.  I wouldn't consider re-graduating a decent fiddle for the purpose of deleting a dent.

 

I'm not much of a fan of veneers in the sp area, especially in older instruments, but Nathan's small patch and veneer sounds as though it might be the least invasive method in the end.  I don't think a shaving inlay or finger patch would be durable enough without the veneer Nathan mentioned, however.

 

A Cuypers I just repaired had a serious tear/dent (originally nearly as deep as the one shown in your photo) in the sound post area that had been previously and unsuccessfully "fixed" by soaking in some sort of glue to fill some of the voids, but no crack was present (yet).  I removed the glue and swelled out the wood as much as possible, then put a normal sized sound post patch in it, but didn't go quite as deeply with the patch than I might have if a crack existed. The player is very happy.  So am I.  The proven durability and simplicity of the repair overshadowed any second thoughts I might have had about removing original (damaged) material in this case... but I did think about that issue before committing.

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Thanks for commenting on this Jeff. This makes me wonder if a good stiff aplication of glue to the area where the soundpost will be placed would be a good idea on new instruments. I've certainly seen and used gelatin sizes at times and as I mentioned would always do so after swelling out a dented top.Has anyone ever seen any reason not to do this?

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Thanks guys!

I soaked the dent (gash, gouge?) for the sake of it, too see what would happen. Not much of anything happened.

The value of the violin is just enough to make the work worth while, but not quite enough to justify a huge restoration effort.

I'm going to remove wood in the chest area to bring the whole thing down to around 3mm (currently at 3.5+) in order to make the difference between the s.p. area and the rest less severe.

Then remove the dent. This will put the s.p. at +2mm. A thin veneer patch will, when blended in, bring the whole of the chest area to a consistent +/_ 3mm.

I will soak the dent once more when I get closer to the bottom, and perhaps size the area with glue.

Thanks again.

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Thanks for commenting on this Jeff. This makes me wonder if a good stiff aplication of glue to the area where the soundpost will be placed would be a good idea on new instruments. I've certainly seen and used gelatin sizes at times and as I mentioned would always do so after swelling out a dented top.Has anyone ever seen any reason not to do this?

 

Hi Nathan;

 

I am aware of a few makers who have done what you describe.  I guess the end result depends on what glue is used to accomplish this.  As you know, the custom of a number of makers is to install a thin veneer in the sp area on new instruments...  and I guess I might be a little more for that, as it's reversible and the glue doesn't permeate the wood in the same manner as it would if it were simply soaked in, but my personal feeling is there's nothing like decent maintenance to aid in preserving the post area.  I do realize, however, that we don't live in a perfect world and I may be a bit of an old fuddy-duddy.   :)

 

 

Argle; A soundpost patch or the thoughtful alternatives mentioned above are not "huge restoration efforts".  If the fiddle is worth doing, and the work is within your skill-set, I hope you will consider doing it right.

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Thanks Jeffery,

I didn't mean to sound cavalier. I always try to do the best possible work for the instrument at hand.

My thinking was since there is no s.p. crack, and the thickness of the area, once the dent is gone, will be 2mm, an excavated sound post patch, with a counterform and all the prep that entails, is not really necessary.

A Cuypers, or something similar, is a different story. (This is a Roth. A nice one, but a Roth.)

A well excecuted surface patch, a veneer, more for reinforcement of a thin area than anything else, should be sufficient, in my opinion.

Thoughts?

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I will soak the dent once more when I get closer to the bottom, and perhaps size the area with glue.

Thanks again.

Rather than just “soaking”, I would steam out the area with a damp rag and a soldering iron and would see no need to make any decision on what further to do until after that.
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Thanks Jeffery,

I didn't mean to sound cavalier. I always try to do the best possible work for the instrument at hand.

My thinking was since there is no s.p. crack, and the thickness of the area, once the dent is gone, will be 2mm, an excavated sound post patch, with a counterform and all the prep that entails, is not really necessary.

A Cuypers, or something similar, is a different story. (This is a Roth. A nice one, but a Roth.)

A well excecuted surface patch, a veneer, more for reinforcement of a thin area than anything else, should be sufficient, in my opinion.

Thoughts?

 

First, I agree with Jacob.  Soaking alone won't accomplish what careful steaming will.  A soldering iron will work fine, as suggested.  I use a hot pallet knife.  Watch the temperature of the varnish surface (I think Nathan already mentioned that?).

 

Second, you can't treat a veneer the same way you would an inlaid patch.  A veneer sits above the surface and as a thin "skin".  It's more protective (protects the surface from dents and gouges) than structural, and usually slab or bias cut.  It adds durability but not much integrity. Therefore, by your own math (but before discovering what you get from adding some steam) you won't have enough support under the veneer.

 

Would what your suggesting "work", at least for the short term?  Probably.  Is it "right" and acceptable for a decent Roth?  I don't think so. 

 

We (all) can get into debate about re-graduation...  but I certainly would not base a decision to perform that function, and figure final measurements, based on the repair of damage alone.

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First, I agree with Jacob.  Soaking alone won't accomplish what careful steaming will.  A soldering iron will work fine, as suggested.  I use a hot pallet knife.

I could send you a soldering for christmas Jeffrey, if they don’t have them over there. (Smiley still not working)
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