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Do you mind if I ask where do you get those tools you show in the pictures that drill the holes, who makes them and what are they called?   

 

 I wouldn't know what to ask for either...

 

Damn - something that looks like it would work better than a chainsaw!

I agree with both Larry and Doug. What the heck are those tools, and where does one get a set like that? You could very easily make your own style ff hole, perfectly accurately in no time.

 

Cm'on ..., Give. (I've got the hand saw part already - but I'd be interested in the type of blade you use, also)

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OK, but it probably won't help. Brian Hart, who died this year, made them for me. I designed them from several examples that I had seen. Some of the other makes are hollow. In theory this is an advantage, because it allows the wood some clearance, however I found that the blades flexed too much. In addition, because they do not need to cut very deep, (they cut from both sides), they work without needing any clearance. Dick used to sell a set, (also in box with Brian’s), as did Morassi in Cremona, but I don't know if they are still available. Both sets work fairly well, but they are not of the finest quality and the sizes offered are very limited. Such cutters are not difficult to make and if I had had the time I would have made my own. Having said that Brian’s work is so much better than mine would have been. I made the box from an old index card box.

Two important things:

1. They need to be very accurately made and centered otherwise when you cut you will have a double line and a raggy edge. Also both blades must be exactly the same length.

2. Because both blades must be exactly the same length and the same distance from the central rod, they are extremely difficult to sharpen. In thirty years mine have never been re-sharpened, because I look after them and also because they are made from extremely hard steel. (No I don't know, but harder than silver steel.)

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I made these f hole cutters several years ago. I made four all together. They work very well. I made these with a small grinder and a drill press. They are made out of bolts so I could get close to the finished sizes. The biggest thing is getting the pilot drilled exactly in the center. I drilled that hole first then I drilled a larger hole for the center and then I filed the two cutters. After I did that I threaded the center hole for the pin and ground the thing to the finished size. I think this is the order I did things, but it's been so long I'm not positive. They aren't that difficult to make, just takes a little time and patients. I made a half assed attempted at hardening and temper them, but you don't need to do that, no more than you cut and use them.

post-6653-0-00590100-1400085513_thumb.jpg

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I've just been using ordinary brad point drill bits. The wood splinters a little when they break through on the inside, but I drill the holes early on before hollowing out the inside.

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For the home hacker (like me), these can be made from the nearly infinite sizes of hobby brass tubing available at most hardware stores. File the end into a V shape, bush the center with a wooden dowel, and then drill the wooden center for an indexing pin. The brass isn't a super-hard material, but holds up OK for the little use a non-factory maker will give them, and they can be easily resharpened with a file.

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And as far as chainsaws go, they can be quite useful in violinmaking, as my colleague Peter Goodfellow has amply shown in this video:

 

 

Yes.

...after watching this video, back when it first came out, I remember taking his advice. and getting rid of my "stupid little thumb planes and chisels"

 

 I made some amazing cuff links out of the planes ( -polished brass and all) The problem now, is that cuff links have gone out of style...

 

When will I ever learn? - damn...

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Yes.

...after watching this video, back when it first came out, I remember taking his advice. and getting rid of my "stupid little thumb planes and chisels"

 

 I made some amazing cuff links out of the planes ( -polished brass and all) The problem now, is that cuff links have gone out of style...

 

When will I ever learn? - damn...

Cufflinks may still have some "babal" currency with the older gals, like those around our age, along the lines of the fawning and admiration we get when we wear our sequined Elvis jumpsuits. :)

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A search for “f-hole drill” brings up the currently available tool (in limited sizes).

 

1.jpg

 

Addie, while reading Roger's bad news that I wasn't about to find a set of drills like his on eBay, I wondered if you would have a solution, and found you had. :) I should look into this tool, since I don't have time to make something like this, and even if I did have time, my badly made tool wouldn't work very well because I have no clue how to work with steel. The chain saw file does work well though. :)

 

What's the best way to accurately drill a hole in the exact center of a circle? I mark a line across the diameter, and another 90 degrees perpendicular to it. This cross should mark the center, but getting those lines exactly right is not easy (for me). In the time it takes to fuss about setting those lines up accurately, I could have drilled an off center hole and quickly finished up with the chain saw file. I could only trust myself with that tool if I could be sure my pilot hole was in the right place every time, as it needs to be. 

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  :(  Aw, Shucks, I had my hopes up.  Back to the old Chainsaw files.  Kind of reminds me of that kid that showed up on the playground with a hand tooled leather marble bag full of a collection of superb and accurate steelies, and when all the other kids gathered round and said "Where did you get those?" the (somewhat smug) reply was " My dad got those from the axle assembly of a 1932 Hupmobile, they don't make them anymore, and you can't get them!" :)  :)  :)

You got that right! Addie's drills are the ones sold by Dick. They are not high quality but they do work. As for drilling the centre hole I eyeball it and drill with a hand held Stanley drill. Doug please don't get too anal about accuracy it really isn't necessary. Leave that to the laser

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I wouldn't use a chain saw file to actually cut soft spruce of a f hole. Just asking for tear out around hole. The chain saw file works well if you wrap a layer of 320 grit sandpaper around it and spin it in the hole not up and down. Also a Bic pen works for the bigger hole with 320 wrapped around it. While using hole cutters like I have sometimes you get a little hump in the middle of the cut where the cutter comes in from both sides. The 320 works just right, wrap your file or what ever, spin it around a few times and you have a perfectly round clean hole.

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Doug please don't get too anal about accuracy it really isn't necessary. Leave that to the laser

 

Ok, I'll try to loosen up. In fact I saw a YouTube clip recently of Davide Sora cutting a purfling channel, and realised I've been working way too slow when doing this. I decided to throw caution to the wind a week ago, and cut the purfling channel in a violin back very quickly. It was definitely the worst channel I've ever cut, but after the hot glue did it's magic, it looks perfect. I'll be less worried about it in the future.

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I made these f hole cutters several years ago. I made four all together. They work very well. I made these with a small grinder and a drill press. They are made out of bolts so I could get close to the finished sizes. The biggest thing is getting the pilot drilled exactly in the center. I drilled that hole first then I drilled a larger hole for the center and then I filed the two cutters. After I did that I threaded the center hole for the pin and ground the thing to the finished size. I think this is the order I did things, but it's been so long I'm not positive. They aren't that difficult to make, just takes a little time and patients. I made a half assed attempted at hardening and temper them, but you don't need to do that, no more than you cut and use them.

 

Just perfect Berl and although mine are really hard, I think that you are correct in believing that this is not neccessary. They are actually quite similar to the first two that I made myself. Someone recently asked me why I need so many. Well it is simply because I like to make many different models. 

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