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Joe Swenson

J. Swenson's Bench

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OK I've been putting off starting this thread but now seems like a good time since I have lots of projects going all at once.  Finishing violin #2 - instrument #3,  and preparing to varnish viola #1, instrument #2. AND I just got in the wood for my cello #1, instrument #4. (This numbering system is going to get complicated :) )

 

Made my second batch of varnish this week which may be an improvement over batch #1.

 

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I just built my second workbench for the garage last weekend,since make shavings from a cello will NOT be tolerated in the house.  The violin shavings were bad enough, but the cello is going to be 3 times the amount. Plus I need that area "dust free" for varishing.  

 

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I was very excited yesterday when I got the maple wood in (all except the corner blocks which I forgot to order! Doah! :o They should be here today in any case.  Its a "medium" grade maple since I can't afford the premium stuff.  And this is for my own personal use and hopefully still good enough to serve as a floor model for future customers.  I am going to splurge for the premium spruce top.  Still what I have is a nicely flamed back sides and neck.  Seems like I can get a t least another viola or violin neck out of the left overs from this cello neck block

 

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I made the plate "holder" I like to use which also server as an instrument holder when working on repairs.  I had to plane the neck on this Chinese cello which was curved in the wrong direction and also just a bad piece of ebony.  (helped pay for the cello wood  ^_^)

 

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I haven't built the form since I am still finalizing the dimensions or cut any wood yet, but I'm already thinking of lots of questions.  First is will my #7 plane be sufficient to make a good joint on the back?  I also have a completely insufficient bench vise for such a piece of wood.  A shooting board looks like it may be the right approach...  That is some serious wood. :huh:

 

Going to be using Maestronet a lot I think over the next few months... Davidov Cello form looks like what I'm leaning towards.  And thanks for all the help getting those dimensions and photos of the poster!!

 

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Ready ... set...  carve....

 

Joe

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Thanks Peter!  I look forward to your comments.   :D

 

Ran in to my first cello problem ((still not sure if planing the back joint is a problem or not) as the cello ribs they sent are 2.5 mm thick and need to come down ~0.8mm.  I set up a drum sander with a fence when sanding down my viola ribs.  But with the cello ribs they are much taller than my drum sander will handle.  I suppose I could do multipass and turn over the rib and feed it back through to get the entire width. Hmmm  :huh:

 

There's always manual toothed plane and scraping  :blink:

 

Joe

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Finalized the cello template this week.  I based it on the Strad's  Davidov Cello.  

 

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Today I cut out the form for the cello.  Three pieces of 3/4" plywood roughed out and doweled together to maintain the allignment.   Then put them on the drum sander to take the forms down to the template line.  Checked the stack again with the template.  When it matched I marked out the cutouts for the corner blocks, neck block and bottom block and cut them out on the band saw.

 

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Next step is to make the spacers to go between the mould sections.  One central mould, top and bottom section sitting at a height to allow the top and bottom linings to be glued in.  Top and bottom sections will be cut in two pieces and bolted to the spacers so they can be disassembled and removed to facilitate removing the ribs from the mould when finished.  The dowels will be used to maintain the alignment between the three layers of the mould. 

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Back onto my first Cello build project after a few month hiatus working on an old cello pegbox repair that I had promised a customer I would finish.  (I have a day job so anything takes me longer than it should)... 

 

I just posted some photos of the repair on the old thread I started (still not sure how to properly reference other MN threads) concerning deciding whether the repair was doable or if I was looking at a lost cause: 

 

So after a weeks vacation earlier this month to help better define my garage workspace - building a third and final workbench to replace the temporary one I had the band saw and drum sander on.  This one is lower in height to the two other benches out there.  

 

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I also finished painting the south wall behind the new bench, and put up some much needed extra deep shelves over the bench. 

This third bench turned out to be the right height for carving the cello blocks.  

 

I needed to do all this before I could have the space to work on a larger instrument such as is the cello.

 

So now I have some good progress on my cello project.  Finished constructing the form.

 

1. Form constructed - based upon the Strad Davidov Cello.  Used three sections of 3/4" finished plywood (19mm) separated by two layers of 1/2" finished plywood.  Total thickness of form is 77 mm.  (varies from 76.8 mm to 77.0 mm). 

 

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2. Blocks cut +3 mm of final height (115 mm at neck, 118 mm at bottom block) centered vertically and glued to the form.

 

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Block heights are 188.1 mm at neck to 120.8 mm at bottom block.  Will cut ribs +1 mm oversized and trimmed down after gluing. 

Current block height leaves 22 mm clearance to form at bottom block and 19 mm clearance at neck.  Lining will start at 15 mm and will get trimmed down to 12 mm - 13 mm with the ribs after they are glued to the blocks.

 

3. Started carving out the C-Bout curves from the corner blocks.  Removed some extra material with the band saw which should have been done before gluing the blocks to the form..

 

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Got the neck and bottom blocks very close to finished using my low angle Stanley block plane - smoothing it with a rasp.  Corner blocks still need work and are a little more difficult and time consuming.  I previously used the disk sander and drum sander to finish the blocks on my violin and viola projects.  The cello blocks are much taller and it makes it much more difficult to use these tools here.  So I am attempting to finish them by hand with my Pfiel gouges and curved thumb planes.

 

Any other tool suggestions are appreciated since this is my first time with cello blocks. 

 

All for now...

Joe

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Thanks for documenting your cello build. I'm following this with much interest.

 

 

Thanks Joe I am going to start a cello build in a couple of months and this is a great help

 

Tim

 

Thanks!  

 

Yes, this is going to be interesting for sure.  My first... Everything on a much larger scale.  

 

I got stalled on the form construction for a few months, but finally decided to just put it together.  The form is a little heavy but I'm not too concerned.  I can always cut out extra material later as I go to lighten it up a bit.  People on MN were kind enough to supply some photo's of the Davidov Poster I used to create the form.

 

 

Hopefully I'll get the blocks finished up in the next day or so and get on with rib thinning.  I think I have the right tools and so I think it should go well.

 

There is a good thread from three years ago on a Davidov Cello build (I assume back when the poster was still available).  1st-cello-build-modelled-after-the-1712-davidov-strad  I've had that one bookmarked for a while now.

 

Cheers,

Joe

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I have the strad poster for Vuillaume cello 1865 which I intend to take patterns off, but it is lacking in some dimensions like the size of the blocks and any bass bar dimensions or placement information. There is also no neck information, except stop length.  I will try and get a copy of strobels book, or borrow a cello to copy the neck when I am ready

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After more than almost two hours of s-l-o-w carving with a Pfiel 7/16 gouge - which is close in curvature to the corner, plus trying flat and curved scrapers, and a rasp (bad idea) - its close now.

 

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But not happy with my technique and how long it takes to carve a 4.5" long 1.6" diameter perfectly cylindrical surface.   :blink:  :rolleyes: 

Drum sander was SOooo much easier.  I'm thinking I need to rig up something (an elevated platform) so I can use my drum sander on these blocks to get quicker consistent results and not be afraid of accidentally removing too much wood or a splinter with the gouge which is easy to do on spruce. 

 

In the meantime I made progress on rib thinning. Used some blue painter's tape to measure and layout the sections of ribs needed for the form. Then laid it out on the three sections of rib material I have.  

 

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One piece for the upper bout and the other two for a C-bout and 1/2 the lower bout.  Not much extra, so breaking a C-bout rib is not an option when bending the tight corners.  So I need to make sure the ribs are thin enough for the tight bends.  

 

Ribs are 2.8 mm thick to start and need to be 1.5 - 1.8 mm thickness.  So this was another one of those "right tool for the right job" scenarios.  I bought a Lie Nielson scraping plane an toothed blade but the tooth blade was pointed and just shredded the surface of the maple. That didn't seem like a good approach to thiknessing.

 

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I needed a toothed blade with a flat end and ~50% coverage to remove about half the wood down to a fixed depth.  So I took one of my inexpensive low angle Stanley block plane and used diamond coated triangle file to make the appropriate toothed blade.  This worked well to remove about 0.2 mm of maple.  Then the scraping plane could be used to remove the remaining ridges and flatten the surface again.

 

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So today I didn't have too much time but had to see if this would produce a uniformly thinned rib.  So I did a section of one of the ribs suitable for one of the C-Bouts down to thicknes and it worked out pretty well...

 

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I will continue and finish this rib tomorrow.  When all the ribs are to proper thickness I can start bending.

 

More later.

Joe

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Block heights are 188.1 mm at neck to 120.8 mm at bottom block...

 

Why is the top block so much taller than the bottom block?

I use a spindle sander to shape the block radius' too. When I get around to making a cello I think I will find a pipe with the right radius and glue sandpaper to it and use that after getting close with a gouge to finish the blocks. Just a thought.

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Block heights are 188.1 mm at neck to 120.8 mm at bottom block... Why is the top block so much taller than the bottom block?I use a spindle sander to shape the block radius' too. When I get around to making a cello I think I will find a pipe with the right radius and glue sandpaper to it and use that after getting close with a gouge to finish the blocks. Just a thought.

Doah! Typo... 118.1 mm NOT 188.1:)

I think I was too cautious and overly fussy and unsure of what I was doing. I went and nearly finished the other three blocks in less that an hour before work this morning. I think its just confidence in your tool and care in the execution. It just seemed a whole lot easier today than making a elevated table to support the cello form on the drum sander. I still may do that anyway, but I think I will be able to finish these by hand.

Pictures later.

Joe

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I think I was too cautious and overly fussy and unsure of what I was doing.

 

Once the ribs, top and back are glued, nobody will know how perfect or otherwise the block surface is.  You just need some reasonable amount of glue contact between rib and block.

 

Perhaps more important: If the block is not vertical the ribs will splay, throwing off the top and bottom outlines.

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I have the strad poster for Vuillaume cello 1865 which I intend to take patterns off, but it is lacking in some dimensions like the size of the blocks and any bass bar dimensions or placement information. There is also no neck information, except stop length.  I will try and get a copy of strobels book, or borrow a cello to copy the neck when I am ready

 

I have that as well and originally had intended on making that model... I went online and listened to the sound which I liked very much...

 

http://www.thestrad.com/video/raphael-wallfisch-on-his-1865-vuillaume-cello

 

But it is a larger instrument and so I wanted a more standard conventional sounding cello... Strad model.

 

I got a neck template from a local violin workshop recently, when i told the instructor I was thinking of making the Vuillaume cello.  

I can share a photo and dimensions if you like.

 

I am using the Strobel neck pattern for this cello.

 

Cheers,

Joe

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Once the ribs, top and back are glued, nobody will know how perfect or otherwise the block surface is.  You just need some reasonable amount of glue contact between rib and block.

 

Perhaps more important: If the block is not vertical the ribs will splay, throwing off the top and bottom outlines.

 

Thanks Janito,

 

Perfect is only referring to a good gluing surface for the ribs.  And square as you mentioned. I sort of realized I was being hyper-anal in my carving the one corner yesterday.  :blink: I've since come to my senses and its taken much less time to get the other three corners carved today.

 

All six blocks including the neck and bottom block, are essentially done" now and since I marked both top and bottom edges of the blocks with the template I have been able to keep everything square and with the table.  

 

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The three gouges shown are what I used.  Plus a small block plane like the one for thinning the ribs (but without a toothed blade) for the top and bottom blocks. I have been checking the "cylinders" with a square and straight edge and still have some ridges to take down.  

 

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I see mostly I have ridges to clean up except for one corner which is scooped out a little too much. But they are all quite square with the table.  I'll continue to clean up these remaining three corners up as I continue thinning the ribs.  The first corner I finished yesterday (4th pic) is about perfect and I should be able to get the others reasonably close to perfect as well.

 

When I bend and fit the ribs, I will make sure its a good fit with lots of surface contact for the hide glue.  I don't want any significant dips or any ridges in the surface of the corner blocks when I glue.  

 

Cheers,

Joe

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Finished thinning one rib this morning before work in about 30 minutes...  I already had worked on this rib in my earlier tool testing.

I'm Using a piece of 1/2" finished oak plywood as a  backing while planing since the workbench surface is a little rough. 

 

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Thinning removes almost 1/2 the mass of the rib... Two more to go! 

 

The other two remaining ribs are at the full 2.8 mm thickness, so I'll keep track how long it takes to thin the next one.

 

All for now...

Joe

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It took a 2 hours and 15 minutes to thin rib #2 from scratch -->  thickness = 2.8mm down to thickness = 1.5-1.8 mm.  

That included some time sharpening the toothed blade and the scraper plane blade.  Maple is hard on blades.  Especially this flamed stuff.

 

Second rib had a sort of a knot right at the boundary between where I'd part it for the C-Bout rib and 1/2 the Lower bout rib.

 

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Part of the process is marking out the thickness and look for thin or thick areas.

 

When I was finished the second rib was only a couple grams different in weight from the first.  Nice to see you can be consistent.

 

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Third rib set up ready to thin.

 

Now that I have the C-Bout and all the Lower bout rib material at the proper thickness I'm going to start bending ribs!  

 

I just came back from Lowe's where I bought some galvanized flashing material. So the next thing is to make the proper width bending strap.  I'm thinking ~5 1/4" (130 mm) wide by ~20" (500 mm) long ought to be about right.  Just need to cut the sheet and make some wooden handles.

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I have that as well and originally had intended on making that model... I went online and listened to the sound which I liked very much...

 

http://www.thestrad.com/video/raphael-wallfisch-on-his-1865-vuillaume-cello

 

But it is a larger instrument and so I wanted a more standard conventional sounding cello... Strad model.

 

I got a neck template from a local violin workshop recently, when i told the instructor I was thinking of making the Vuillaume cello.  

I can share a photo and dimensions if you like.

 

I am using the Strobel neck pattern for this cello.

 

Cheers,

Joe

Thanks Joe that would be great,

Please post the photo and dimensions for the vuillaume cello neck

 

Tim

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Thanks Joe that would be great,

Please post the photo and dimensions for the vuillaume cello neck

Tim

I have an overlay of the two templates, but no dimensions on there. I can get that from Strobel's book.

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Once you have the Strobel book you can make your own from the template provided.

I was a concerned that the "Vuillaume" neck and scroll template was significantly different than the Strobel. The root was much longer and thicker, and there was a shorter length btween the neck root and chin of the scroll. I have not had a chance to ask the template owner about this discrepancy, but now that you are interested in it I will email him.

Cheers,

Joe

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thanks Joe

I would have expected the larger Vuillaume cello to have a longer neck but then I know nothing about cello's

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thanks Joe

I would have expected the larger Vuillaume cello to have a longer neck but then I know nothing about cello's

 

The distance your hand can travel along the "Vuillaume" neck (distance between the chin and the shoulder of the neck root) is actually less which I would think would be a problem for cello players.  I'll get some clarification today if I can from the template owner.

 

Cheers,

Joe

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OK... The first seemingly insurmountable hurdle with building a cello is finished! :lol:

I finished thinning the third rib this morning. An hour yesterday before work got it within 15 gm of the final mass and ~2.0 mm overall thickness.

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This morning - another 45 minutes overall thinnning then checking for thick / thin spots - a little tweaking and a final scrape sith the cabinet scraper and done! Quite a pile of shavings left over.

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I really thought it was going to be very difficult (actually I thought impossible - for me :unsure: ) to uniformly take off 1.0 - 1.2 mm of maple from such a large area of rib material. Seems that its just a matter of the right tools!

Yay!! :D

(...as the signature says...)

On to rib bending...cutting them to width first.:-)

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Another great thread, Joe.  Thanks!  I probably should use your photos to document my own notes.  Next cello will be a Swensmann Cooke.

Thanks Julian,

I appreciate your vote of confidence.

No rib bending yet. But soon.

Joe

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