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Don Noon's bench

Don Noon

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As this is a very small (15") viola with a short-ish scale, I would expect a more violin sound than the larger bodied ones.  Also, I felt my violin bow didn't have enough weight to push the strings hard enough (I don't have a viola bow), so that might be contributing to the lighter sound.  Heavier strings might help, but I think I'll just go with what's on it (Vision Solo).

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I've just finished 3 15.25 inch violas and wasted/spent a lot of time experimenting with strings.  Because they're such a short scale, the regular tension strings, I've found, don't have enough tension at pitch to pull the best from the instrument.  Could just be my model...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Now that the VSA competition is over, here are the instruments I submitted, which didn't win anything (as usual, the competition was very stiff).


Viola, just under 15 1/4":

attachicon.gif17 140904 1.JPGattachicon.gif17 140904 2.JPGattachicon.gif17 140904 3.JPGattachicon.gif17 140904 4.JPG



attachicon.gif16 140904 1.JPGattachicon.gif16 140904 2.JPGattachicon.gif16 140904 3.JPG

Love the Da Salo scroll Don. The violin has very nice corner and edgework. Is it a long pattern? Thanks for posting the pixs.

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The chinrest wasn't super-light, so that might have been some of it.  It was the lightest I've ever made, at 365g without the chinrest.

I think the processing allows plates 5-10% lighter, but that isn't a shocking difference, especially when you add in the blocks, neck, fingerboard, etc... which are still about normal.

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  • 2 weeks later...



To kill time before the VMAAI competition coming up soon (and to put off putting together the presentation I'm scheduled to give), I made a couple of knife handles.  The top, pointy one has a blade from John Schmidt; I haven't really used it yet for anything other than some test cuts, and it seems to be very nice.  Grain structure appears very fine.  The lower one I made from slicing up a HSS power hacksaw blade.  Coarse-ish grain, but very hard.


I also used the handles for testing some ground ideas.  The upper one has a very strong yellow ground, the lower one is closer to my current more conservative norm (some color in the ground, but not very strong).

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  • 1 month later...

Would you believe....


Unprocessed wood for my next fiddle!



No, I'm not giving up processing, and will likely continue to do so if only to pre-shrink the wood for stability and a bit of color (I just installed a digital controller on the chamber, and ordered a cold trap to protect my vacuum pump... so I'm still committed to that technology for now).

But it has been a few years since I made an instrument out of completely normal wood, and I think it's time to establish a new baseline for comparison.  It is all European wood, ~10 years old or so.  Nothing really outstanding properties-wise, except that the maple is a bit on the dense side (.63-.64) and quite high modulus.  The spruce is .38-.39 density, with pretty average properties for wood of this sort.


oh yeah... I don't have any processed maple backs at the moment, it takes a couple of months after processing for the wood to stabilize, and want to get back to making stuff.  

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 I was just wondering what you put on those two tool handles.  top one looks like a nitrite maybe?  


The top one was given a strong yellow dye.  Both were given a ground made up of a bunch of stuff, thickened with fumed silica (some color from terpene resin).  Clear varnish after that.

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  • 1 month later...

It has been over a month since I posted anything here, so this is what's going on...




Cooking some more rosin, FF grade from Woodfinishing.  I have made 7 batches of varnish from rosin recently, and I think this may be my last try.  So far, they have all turned out pretty much similar:  beautiful red in thick layers, but just a nice amber in normal thicknesses.  This time I have it covered, but with air pumped in to bubble thru.  It doesn't seem to matter, as far as I can tell, after 5 days cooking (it's very dark and thick, just like all the others).




My "normal wood" fiddle is coming along.  I'm currently working on the back, which is using the highest modulus wood in my stack (13000 MPa) and fairly high density at .63-.64.  Pretty tough stuff.




I processed a batch of maple about a month ago or so, cutting back on the strength so it wouldn't end up as dark as the previous batch.  The properties are more modestly changed, although I won't have the final numbers for another few weeks until the wood stabilizes. I really don't think the maple needs the ultimate in sound-producing properties, so I'm paying more attention to the aesthetics.  Can you tell which 2 pieces have been planed?  Oh... for comparison, that's my unprocessed back I'm working on, over 10 years old.  I'm going to have to wear sunglasses working on it  B) .

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Trying a new method:  ground on the garland first, to avoid glue ghosts when attaching the plates.  I tried the painter's tape method, but a tiny bit still seems to wick under the tape and make a light line.  


The ground is also something new for me, attempting to get as much dichromatic effect as possible.  A spare unfinished rib piece from the set is shown for comparison.


No, I did not shade it... the color is uniform, but looks much redder at steep angles.  With a darker varnish on top of this, hopefully it will look "luminous".

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