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JacksonMaberry's Bench

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So my teacher wanted me to begin my first violin right away, to be constructed by and by, always taking a backseat to repairs. So he set me to work on my form. The first photo is of a form his grandfather used. It's a full thickness form, which I gather is not all that common from looking at photos here and elsewhere. It works in two halves - you use a bolt in the larger holes, which have nuts inset on the inside of the upper half, to pull the upper half out of the garland to apply the belly lining, then pop the remaining half out and apply the back lining, or so I think... Haven't got there yet!

The second photo is of my form before cutting out, and the last is the nearly finished form. I used a template of his design which I haven't got a photo of but could if there was interest.




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My form being done, I was in need of some wood to put on it. My teacher made a few recommendations based on suppliers he had used before, and of them i called John Tepper of Tepper Tonewoods. Very friendly, helpful fellow! We chatted until he was sure of what I was looking for, and he sent the wood along. The maple I believe he said was sugar maple, and the spruce is Englemann. He had sitka available as well, but my teacher seems to favor Englemann so I stuck with it.

The first two pics are of the wood, both from trees felled ~20yrs ago according to John. The second photo is post booking, which I did in the booking jig in photo three. My teacher scared the devil out of me by taking my booked maple out of the jig and smacking it down hard on his knee! When I didn't hear wood clattering to the shop floor I opened my eyes to see the joing had held. What a relief!




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A break from my project - a photo of my first ever solo bridge. Previously I had fit two others with my teacher watching like a hawk. This one he had me do on my own and critiqued later. He said it was not bad, but that the fit was not to his standards and that the carving in the heart and kidneys didn't appear spontaneous enough, but that for a student instrument and student bridge blank it was sufficiently workmanlike.

A question for you all - would it be worth buying a stack of 50 cheap bridge blanks from China and spending a week just fitting bridges to one of my fiancées violins for the practice?


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First - upper bout ribs after bending and fitting/drying

Second - ribs after gluing all but the lowers to the bottom block. Against my teacher's suggestion, I glued the lowers to the corner blocks first and attempted to cut the overlap straight down the middle. This resulted in a less than perfect meeting of the lower ribs on the bottom block. I will make the gap slightly larger and fill it with a strip of purfling, a symbol to all who know violins of my error.

Third - one of my corners after some filing.

Last - the present state of my project. I realize the corners on the back plate are a bit small. I rushed unthinkingly into tracing the ribs onto the back with a washer without adding a little mass on the corners for profiling. As a result, my corners will be a little stubby. One of my fiancées violins, a Johann Albrecht from 1926 (markneukirchen), has very rounded corners and soft scroll, which I find very beautiful but realize is not, perhaps, the way to do your first violin?

Thanks for looking at these photos. Please share your thoughts with me =)





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Once you get the hang of things a bit, I think it's a good practice for beginners to have several projects going on in various stages at the same time. In your case I would suggest 5. Looks good so far!

Thank you very much! I have a lot of projects rattling around in my head i'd love to do! I have the Strad' posters for the 1666 Niccolo Amati and the 1679 Stainer that I desperately want to make - the Stainer in baroque setup for my fiancée, as she's looking at doing masters work in historical performance.

I want to make a smaller viola as well. She has a 16 3/4" that is way too much for her small hands. Thinking Brescian for that project, and might try making that backnout of some gorgeous quarter sawn platanus occidentalus I've got. I've heard it doesn't bend well though so I guess maple for the ribs?

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User MaryVera posted a topic on the Pegbox recently offering a free viola and I was lucky enough to get it. As she advertised it had some issues relating to the neck and fingerboard. It was made in '11 by Nate Tabor, marked Op.24 on the inside and on the neck beneath the board.

Apparently the fingerboard had come off and someone glued it back on badly and with an unfriendly adhesive, and in setting it migrated to the treble side. The would-be repair person then attempted to remove the fingerboard, ostensibly with something sharp, as the bass side of the neck where it meets the body is short a bit of maple. There are little gouge marks out of the maple on both sides of the neck where it meets the board, but are mostly invisible.

I received the instrument yesterday evening and was able to begin working with my teacher talking me through today. He gave me a syringe and had me heat up water in the glue pot, then gradually squirt hot water into the joint and work slowly with a flexible steel scraper originally intended for pottery. I was able to get the fingerboard off this way, but did unfortunately remove a bit of ebony, about a tenth of a mm, from a small patch of the fingerboard underside.

I then used water and scraper to clean the glue off both sides of the joint, finishing the maple just with a scraper but giving the ebony a couple passes along my 330 grit sanding "board" (really a heavy glass coffee table top).

I went ahead and took pains to ensure a straight line from the nut to the endpin with the fingerboard properly centered along it, which turned out pleasantly to be in perfect alignment with the neck. I prepared the hide glue, brushed it on both surfaces, and clamped, making sure my alignment held. The glue is drying now, and tomorrow I'll check my work and see how to proceed.






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Now that's interesting.  While I'm all for DIY when one can DIY...I would certainly NOT try it on an instrument that is worth (?) 3000-5000 Euros ($3300-5500 US or 300000000000 kazillion Canadian <_<).  Wonder what the mis-repairman was thinking?


In the meantime...good job so far!  I'm sure it will turn out well!  :)

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I wasn't able to get into the shop today, regrettably, so nothing new on the viola. I've been fixing the knockoff Herdim corpus clamps I got on eBay as per the suggestions I received from some of you fine folk!

I also made an important purchase today - I treated myself to a Lie Nielsen 102 low angle block plane! I've been reading and rereading Darnton's setup chapter and he seems to get a ton of use out of the 102, so I figured I'd get one of my very own. At some point I'll get a toothed blade for thinning rib stock as well. =D

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