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Berl Mendenhall

Stradivari Tool (Square)

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I was looking at a web site of a Italian fellow ( believe he's a tool maker).  He's not a violin maker.  He had went to the Stradivari Museum to look at Strads tools and posted some photos of a few of the tools.  This square is one of the pictures.  Look at small end, post-6653-0-16722500-1377086076_thumb.jpg look at the molding cut in that end.  Strad couldn't help himself.  He had to make it beautiful.  That molding didn't change the way that square worked one little bit, it just made it prettier and nicer to hold in his hand.  Beauty can come in unusual places.

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Great picture! Thanks for sharing it.  I wonder if this could have been a multi  use square.  Possibly measuring string angle or some other frequent used measurement. 

 

-Jim

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Maybe the curve after the notch was actually important. Or maybe it's just the effect of many uses of the square?

If someone can measure the angle we might get some idea of  the use of the larger square (assuming of course that it was used for violin making... :) )

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On the screen I measured155 degree for the angle. Is it not near of what the strings angle above the bridge should be or should have been in 1600-1700 ?

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What would be the point of measuring the string angle, even less having a tool for it. That would be too late in the manufacturing process. But it sure looks like something in that direction.

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First, thanks for posting this.  

 

The fact that BOTH of the squares have a notch, makes me think there was a use for them, but the one certainly is more elegant.  So we can all be right.  :)

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Hopefully Bruce and Roger will tell us what they think.  It may very well have a function.

"That's a great invention, Tony, whaddya call it??"

"A doorstop".  :ph34r:

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On the screen I measured155 degree for the angle. Is it not near of what the strings angle above the bridge should be or should have been in 1600-1700 ?

Notice that the main bend occurs at what seems a non-accidental point. That is half way along the short leg and 1/3 along the long leg.

 

My first impression was that the larger square was also used to measure 30 and 45 degree angles.  On-screen, my measurements look like they're within 2 degrees of that, so it looks right to me.  I have an adjustable multisquare that sortof shows the idea; if you take off the adjustable part, it's 30 and 45 degrees:

post-25192-0-31161200-1377107309_thumb.jpg

 

As for the curvy part, I would guess it had a real function, rather than just decoration.  It sortof looks like the recurve near the bout corners; perhaps it was used to lay out something there?

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Stradivari's shop made many different things other than violins, such as cases, so it is quite possible that these marking were relevant for carpentry or general woodworking.

 

Today's tools tend to favour function over beauty, but that was not always the case, so ornamentation is a possibility too.

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Is there any other tool from Strad's shop that is ornamented?  In a quick scan, I didn't see any; they all look starkly functional.

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Quite common to finish squares with a decorative point. See Roubo Try Square

One end of Roubo's square design is the same molding shape as on Stradivari's square.  Just maybe my romantic notion isn't so far off after all. :)  I know I'm a hopeless romantic.

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One end of Roubo's square design is the same molding shape as on Stradivari's square.  Just maybe my romantic notion isn't so far off after all. :)  I know I'm a hopeless romantic.

Until the 1950's, decorative motifs were common on all manner of commonplace things. My 1947 Singer sewing machine has a beautifully engraved faceplate, for instance, and Stradivari lived during the Baroque..  The only difficulty I see is that none of the other Stradivari tools on display in Cremona are decorated, as Don observed.

 

(And it does look like a template for making doorstops :lol: )

 

Does anyone have a photo showing the whole label beneath it?

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  The only difficulty I see is that none of the other Stradivari tools on display in Cremona are decorated, as Don observed.

Even if there are no other tools that are decorated, that could possibly point to Stradivari picking this tool up from another shop.

I have previously owned tools in my shop, does anyone else have 2nd hand, 3rd, 4th .... tools?

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Until the 1950's, decorative motifs were common on all manner of commonplace things. My 1947 Singer sewing machine has a beautifully engraved faceplate, for instance, and Stradivari lived during the Baroque..  The only difficulty I see is that none of the other Stradivari tools on display in Cremona are decorated, as Don observed.

 

(And it does look like a template for making doorstops :lol: )

 

Does anyone have a photo showing the whole label beneath it?

I think it reads "due piccolo squadre", 2 little squares

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