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Roughed the outside today.  Mark off thicknesses, drill holes, rough most of the holes away.  Then brought the long arch in, and blend it in a little.  Still a long way from finish, but roughed in on both sides in about 4 hours.  








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This back I made with the top arch going from the block to the center of the lower bout.  The bottom arch goes from the block to the upper corners, so it is somewhat shorter.  The results being that the thickest area ends up at the bridge, or slightly below.  The top arch is a little deeper, (13.3 mm to 12.5 mm) too.  I thought it would be an easy way to get stiffness by the sound post, and  thin out the area of the c bouts a little.  I print our a catenary of the length and depth of both, and figure out the thicknesses using a given radius for the outside arch.  I move the catenary around until the numbers are good; no spots of 2.2 mm, the bouts are 2.6-3 mm not 4.5 mm.  Sometimes just a little change makes a big difference.  

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As far as working the wood, I would say that a plane is more forgiving than a gouge; but it will still grab if you go against the grain, and the grain shifts quite a few times on this piece.  When I have the blade set deep for hogging, especially on the outside where there was more to cut off, it is especially bad.  You can see on the second picture down that where both corners are, across the width of the back, the grain goes down from both sides, so that is where I will have to really watch it.  When I set them up for a light cut, you can even smooth out the chatter, but you have to change direction, and maybe go cross grain.  Cross grain works really well, but you don't get the nice look, unless it is really sharp, and really set close.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Funny thing.  3 months later I happened to notice yesterday that that dark cruddy oil finally looks nice, without the bright light behind it.  


Maybe it just takes time for the stuff to settle, but even when I poured it out of the can the first time, after setting for who knows how long in the can, it looked like crap.  Still did not that long ago, I think.  


I'm making a cherry back.  I had another one, but things aren't right on it, and I pulled the plug.  Thought I could use the old ribs for my new project.  Well, the lower ribs are too short for the lowers on the new one.  One of the top ones split a little while impatiently ripping them off the blocks, so only the c bouts will work.  I needed four new ribs.  Luckily I have the piece of 3 X 3 cherry I bought for the first one.  Plane flat, saw, plane to thickness, repeat.  Here I am at the repeat part.




Cherry is very nice wood.  I wrote in Catnips post about the Cherry violin drying in the sun. (Stunning piece of Cherry he has there) that my cherry wood is much darker.  The back you can see in the upper post is quite dark.  Now check out these ribs.  Same piece of stock.  The old ones were done a couple years ago; sat under the bench in a box.  




Not only are they darker, the entire look is different.  Instead of being blotchy, and sometimes plain, and sometime spotted, they have all the figure all the time.  Odd.  I didn't notice that the block I had did that on the quarter.  The neck block I used does that too.  Is it a quartered cherry trait?  I don't know.




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  • 2 weeks later...

I have the ribcage done.  I like the outline.  I just got my Strad magazine today, and will double check the final corner location.  These are about 10 mm or so above center, but they should be even. (I just checked, and they should 4 mm high.  The stop is 8 mm below center)  I think that the corners are about the most important part of the outline.  They certainly are the part of the outline that is easiest to see, and the most prominent.  The bouts can be quite whomped out, and it isn't that noticeable.  Wonky corners will stand out.  




I like the outline, but the weather has been horrible all year.  60 degrees on July 1?  It just ain't right.  Cold, wet, gloomy.  Not what I signed up for; not that I can do anything about it.  I like 90 degrees and sunshine.   Well, enough of that, it could be worse.  Yeah, that could be coming.   


Here is what the cherry ribs look like.  The center ribs were cut a couple of years ago, and re-bent.  The new ribs are almost as dark as them already.



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  • 4 weeks later...

I have the back and belly brought in and ready to glue on the ribs to finalize the outline, and put the purling in.  They are still too thick.  I figured they are 1.2 times bigger in area than a violin but they weigh on the analog kitchen scale (I need a new scale, any suggestions?  Something that you can read with the plate on it?) 125 and 200 grams.  The free plate tap tones are 340 for the belly, and 320 for the back.  That is with no bass bar.  The back may have to stay heavy.  I like to put the edge in first and do some tuning before doing thing for no reason than to hit some number.  I'm treating it as a 5 string viola.  It's a little over 380 mm long, but it will have a violin string scale.  Which is it?  How about strings?  I was doing some trig on string clearance and playability, and with 5 strings it gets more complicated. What is a good height for the string in between the other 2 strings?  I have a violin figured at about 2 mm at the end of the fingerboard.  That doesn't seem like much to me.  Maybe my trig is off?





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I does follow the 2/3 rule.  Since it is based on a Maggini cello, the f holes are quite high.  On the cello the notches are actually on center, but they placed the bridge a little low.  I moved them down slightly; to where the bridge was placed; and the lowered the lower corners and c/l of the lower bout too, so it looks right.  That gave me a 195 stop.  So I'm left with a very wide violin that is 30 mm long from the bottom to the stop. 

As to the scale.  Mine was less than 3" square on the top, and was hard to read the scale with a plate sitting on it; and get it to balance at the same time.  It also used 3 AAA batteries. Kind of a dumb thing in my opinion.

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I picked up a scale yesterday at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Had a 20% off coupon, so it was just $20.  It has a big platform, and only takes 2 AAA batteries.




and yes, it can weigh a cello:




Upgrade of iPhoto is bad.  Photos I looked at in the editor with a flash and better color won't show up until I go off, and come back on.  Don't they think about these things?  What's the holdup?  I don't understand electrical stuff, but it boggles my mind when computers take longer to think than I do.  


1 gram resolution, but none of them were any better, and I could care less about a tenth of a gram.

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  • 2 months later...

We've been busy this summer.  Working most Saturdays unless I take Friday off as a vacation day.  Spent a lot of money too.  The biggest chunk of change was to redo the septic leach field.  Fun times.  Dryer, water heater, tree removal, well pump, garage door spring and opener.  My wife doesn't even want to go out to Arizona, and we have a new grandson out there that is only a few days old.  We can't afford it she says.  Good thing she thinks about money I guess.  I don't.  Anyway, here is a photo of the wall in my basement shop.  I call it a shop, but I'm only in there maybe a couple hours a day. The maroon violin I took to VSA is now a warm chocolate brown.  It still shows red, and is very clear in bright light.  Weird.  The del Gesu on the microwave is actually looking like the poster behind it.  It is supposed to be the Plowden, but it looks like the Teja-Ferni .





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  • 2 months later...

I haven't put anything up in 3 moths?  Not that I've been slacking, I just haven't moved on to finishing anything.  I started doing some purling, and haven't been happy with it.  I found that I can cut the groove all the way with may marker, but I'm thinking it would be much easier with two markers at the same time. (code for it didn't work as well as I thought it would)   Cut the inside line down some, cut the outside line down some.  Anyone doing that?  Anyway, I'm just stalling on them.  I get excited about something new, so now it is the Gofriller viola.  High arched, 23 or so belly, and about 25 mm back, and about 408 long, with a very long waist.  I like the looks of it.  I poster the 9 hour belly  in the pegbox.  Now it is up to about 18 hours with a bass bar, and a pitch pocket patch.  It is  114 grams now and rings at 370.  Bellies always seem to go in a straight major chord; the fundamental, the fifth, and the octave.  Backs are usually closer than that.


Here is the back.  Still way too thick, but it only rings at 330 now so I will try to keep it as high as I can.  It is still 188 grams.  I am working on roughing in the re-curve.  I pick my point for the low point, and the point of inflection off a poster.  I don't have a poster for this, but I am using the violin and cello poster archings as a guide.  They are set more in from the edge, and have a more swoop recurve, like an Amati.   I do the same inside and out.  The inside is actually a little in further than the outside, but I don't measure them that closely.  Flat scraper down to the line, and even past it on an angle, until the blade shows that the inflection point is in the right place.  I try to have that area somewhat flat, and not an abrupt change.   Anyone doing that?






Happy New Years.  The older you get the faster they go by.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I have the viola glued together now.  My method lately has been to get the plates done on the inside, and mostly on the outside except for the edge work.  Then I glue it up, put the purfling in, and do the edge work and re-curve.   I don't get weights and tap tones.  Oh well.  













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Funny you should ask that.  The dying worked fine.  What I didn't think about was that the wood strips were not nearly as uniform in thickness as I thought, so the last couple of days I've been in the cold basement with my dial gauge sorting them out.  I thought the whites were .6 mm or so, but I find them from .45 - .55 mm and then a bunch around .75 plus.  I haven't finished yet.  The blacks are thinner, but I don't know what they are yet.  I'm going down there after this post.  I also will trim them some, and lay them between some flat boards with weights on them to make them easier to handle; they curled up quite a bit.  It takes some work to do it right.  I may even make up a thickness shaver to get them even more even when I'm ready to start putting them in.


I have two new purfling markers so I can set the inside and outside at the same time.  I may blend the re-curve in some first, and then make more shallow slots.  I've had purfling disappear!  Many times unfortunately.  Apparently I'm a slow learner.  





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  • 1 month later...

I tried the plaster of paris sealer thing a while back, and finally got around to putting some varnish on it.  I didn't wipe it off real good when I did it a few months ago, but I cleaned it up the other day, and put some thin, de-waxed orange shellac on it, to seal it some.  Soaked in mostly, and didn't cover any of the whiter areas in the low spots at all.  Didn't really look like I'd done anything to it at all.  Somehow I got a white line between the upper f holes.  


Today I put some real varnish on it.  I thought that the white line didn't disappear, but in the photo I couldn't see it that good.  I went in the garage to take another photo, and the lines really are almost gone.  They were still there when the varnish went on.  There are some spots around the scroll that look like glue ghosts; I don't know what is up with that; but it was fun to do.  40 degrees and drizzle outside, but the birds are singing like crazy.


I made Joes varnishing cradle yesterday.  If you don't have one, make one up.  It is simple to do.  3 pieces of wood, a dowel, and four screws.  I can't imagine I used to hold the instrument before.  This is so much easier.  I went out to get a picture of it, and the flash went off!  it is 1 foot from the garage door!  Pathetic.  I don't like gloomy days.


I like everything up through the varnishing.  Saddles, gluing on necks and nuts, and fitting pegs, are just fussy necessary things that need to be done.  They just aren't as much fun.  Varnishing is fun.  








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I see a problem with the design of the neck end of the cradle. 


The way the neck sits in it means that it will have a tendency to twist round and drop down further into the modified V when the violin is turned.  If this happens, there is a chance of scraping damage to the edge of the neck where the fingerboard will sit.


I would redo the top end of the cradle so that it fits the neck contour better and also glue a temporary block to the neck to protect its edges.

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I don't think the vee is the problem.  I think Joe glues on a fake half fingerboard as protection to the edges as you suggested.  I thought of a taping on a 2 inch long, half round piece of wood so it would turn easier, and not stick in the corners.  It would do that even with the block attached.


Thanks, I didn't even think about that.   

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