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Opus #2 build thread


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Hello and welcome to my second build thread!

After finishing my first violin a few months ago, my wife and I both got made redundant from our jobs and have picked up sticks from Sydney Australia and moved to snowy (hopefully) whistler on a 2 year working visa in Canada BC. The idea is to work as little as possible and ski and make violins as much as possible for the next two years  :D.


My wife was gracious enough to let me set some money aside for building my number 2 violin so I have ordered a bunch of materials and a few new tools that I was missing from the first build.


The last violin was quite a rush as I was finishing up work, packing up a house, finishing a record and moving countries all at once. I like to work fast, but I am going to push myself to take my time and put as much effort as possible into the finer details of this fiddle. Building number 3 is conditional on being able to sell number 2 for at least a small profit to repay materials and a proportion of my time. 


This violin like the last will be inspired by Del Gesu's 1742 'Alard'. I loved the sound of the last fiddle and I want to master that model as well as I can before taking a risk on a new model. I will be making a new inside form from scratch as the last did the job, but was far from perfect.


And here's the materials and a few of the tools that have arrived so far:





The spruce is from Simeon Chambers (rocky mountain tonewood) log 89 and the maple is from Drewbas Tonewood. Both are master grade. 


I did struggle without any decent carving knives on the last build and was using cheap x-acto blades and sharpening them up. Did the job, but very frustrating so I took a trip to the Lee Valley shop outside Surrey and picked up a couple of japanese and flexcut carving knives.

Progress will be a little slow for a week or two yet as my wife and I are still living in a hotel room with no room for violin making. We move into a small studio apartment on Nov 1 and my first task will be to build a small workstation before beginning my violin.

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  • 2 months later...

After a two month break I'm finally back on the horse towards getting my 2nd fiddle built. The last few months have been busy with moving into our apartment, skiing lots and I did a bunch of skills development so that I could take a job building websites for people for a crust. Pay is a bit better than being a lifty  ;) 

I managed to find some time in the last two days to put together some sort of workstation to begin my build.



And also cut the maple billet in half and have planed ready to glue. The joining process makes me nervous every time because it makes a big difference to the final product and it happens right at the start.



Now I gotta find where I packed the hide glue...


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Great, the last build was fun to follow!  Just curious, did you keep an "oops, I wish I had/ had not done that" list during the first build?




That's a long list ;) Not on paper, but mentally. Plenty of mistakes in the make caused me frustration/take more time, etc... but there were also a few that affected the final product in a big way and those are the ones that I really don't want to repeat.

- corner block grain orientation

- block size

- symmetrical mold

- leave more margin for error on the neck and scroll

- pegbox was too wide and you could feel that in between your finger and thumb when playing

- varnish application was rushed

- take more time with the spruce and grain direction to avoid edge chips

I may actually run over my old build thread in the next couple of days to see if I spot some others. I think overall it should be much more of a smooth experience now that I know it can be done and also I am a little bit more tooled up.

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Thanks for the update!  Looks like a nice set-up!  How are you enjoying the area?


And did you join that string ensemble?

Actually no, I haven't joined that string ensemble yet, been too busy getting other things in life sorted. Also, still don't have a violin.

My wife and I are LOVING whistler, it's a beautiful place. It's very expensive to live here unfortunately, but it is well worth it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi BigFryMan - this little gadget is well worth the making.


attachicon.gifcellomaking - vise plate holder.jpg


attachicon.gifcellomaking - vise plate holder in vise.jpg


Trim ~ 25mm off the end of the plates, add connecting pieces to suit width of vise jaws.


 It holds the plate very securely with less chance of indenting the plate or movement when planing the joint.


cheers edi


Wow, that's a great looking jig Edi, thanks! I will have to build one of those, especially for the spruce.

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Hi guys,


Apologies for the lack of photos and updates. I am progressing now bit by bit. In the last couple of weeks I've cut an acrylic half template, cut a plywood mold, installed the blocks and the c-bouts and top rib. Just need to install the bottom rib, linings and then the sides will be complete.


I can't believe how much quicker and easier this process is with the proper tools and obviously the experience of your first. When I started thinning the ribs for my first violin I ruined two sets because I either dug holes in them trying to thin with a rubbish block plan or snapped them trying to bend without a real bending iron. 

One thing I am noticing with this pro grade timber is that the deeper flame does require a lot more patience to work with. You cannot rush it or you risk chipping out the grain. I think this is going back and scroll much more challenging.

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Hi Folks, i am really looking forward to this build, i enjoyed your last one too,, i wish i could fine more threads like this, i am still gathering some tools and got The Art Of Violin Making book just at Christmas which i am enjoying,  ok keep up the good work, hope you all have a great 2016..

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am making my first. I only ended up messing up one rib so far. Did you use a toothed block plane to thickness them?


Hi Nick, congratulations on taking up the challenge! I think I ruined about 3 ribs on my first.

I am a beginner so take any advice/examples from me with a grain of salt and plenty of outside help haha :)

No I didn't use a toothed blade. I have the Veritas low angle block plane and I do own the toothed blade also. These ribs were nearly impossible with a plane. I got a bit of thickness off with the plane (razor sharp, I trimmed my arm hair with zero effort to check), but the flame was still chipping out so I switched to a heavy(ish) duty cabinet scraper and that did the trick with zero tear out.

Have you mastered turning an edge on a scraper?

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Hey guys,


Sorry for the lack of updates, but starting to find the time to get back into it now!


I'm amazed at how much easier this is with proper tools and this fiddle is already looking ten times neater than the last.


This maple is BEAUTIFUL, but it is SO hard. It chipped out a LOT while I was trying to plane the plates flat.    post-78203-0-84410500-1453275032_thumb.jpg

ribs meet back, back meet ribs.



This time I didn't forget! That's a win  :D


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Hey. That bending iron. I've seen it on Ebay, amongst the other cheap irons. Am I correct? I purchased one and it was crap. Does this one work for you? If so can you link where you got it from? Your build looks really good so far, btw.

Hey Nick, the bending iron I bought off Aliexpress. I'll see if it can find you a link tomorrow. This one has a big temperature gauge and thermostat and works very well. Cheap from memory too. I couldn't recommend aliexpress enough for cheap tools. I got my this my planes very cheaply and the work very well.

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Making lots of mess today:



I am thinning out the plate all over as it came very thick (around 40mm at it's tallest). Once I establish the lengthways arch, I will then focus on getting the edges to around 6mm. I haven't finalized the outline yet as it'll be a lot less work once there's less timber to have to rasp/file/sandpaper.

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Have been beavering away over the last week or so trimming the outline of the back plate and getting things roughly into violin shape.

I have also been re-watching a bunch of Davida Sora's youtube videos to try and really concrete the process of carving the plates into my head. If I can get a routine going in how the plates come together, I'm hoping to be able to focus on the timber in a concentrated artistic way rather than a mechanical one. 

Unfortunately one of my first stylistic mistakes for this fiddle has shown up already at this stage. I am not as happy as I could be with the corners in the bottom bouts. There's nothing 'wrong' with them per se, but I think the shape is a little conservative for my tastes. The mistake was not necessarily made trimming the plate too short at the corners, but more the corner blocks would have been improved with a tighter curve. Although the mold is loosely related to a 1742 Del Gesu, it really is very much my outline so I am happy just to take this one on the chin. I'll try and get a straight up photo of the plate and the ribs at some stage so you can see what I'm talking about.


Apart from this, things are coming along quite nicely. I'm currently bringing the long arch to shape with my low angle block plane before turning my attention to the purfling platform and arching.


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