Michael Appleman

sawing outline by hand, what do you use?

Recommended Posts

I just sawed out a viola back from a particularly thick piece of maple and  when I finished, I had a pile of about 15 broken or kinked blades. This  back was particularly tough, but I'm sure I'm not doing something right. I've been using a coping saw with different blades, and just when I think I've got the right blade, getting  most of the way around an outer bout with one blade cutting cleanly, all of a sudden I'd run through several blades without cutting more than a centimeter, with blades slipping out of the saw or breaking. My pro violin maker friends here just laugh at me and tell me to bring my backs and neck blocks down to the shop and use their bandsaws, but since I do most of my making on weekends or in the evening, and I can't really use power tools in my workspace (urban apartment), I need to keep being able to saw things out by hand. I thought I'd ask a question for those who also do this by hand. What kind of saw and/or blades do you use? I'd be grateful for any suggestions for blade size, tpi and sawing technique. I use a "v" board clamped to my work table as described by Roger Hargrave, and set my coping saw blades to cut on the pull stroke, gently cutting with my elbow resting on my knee.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a jeweler's saw for a lot of things, and rarely break blades anymore. It's all technique. Maybe a bow-right would help? :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

P.S. Here are the traditional saws for what you're doing. English, Italian and German, and French. Note the carved scroll common on some French saws. Blade width varies with the job at hand.

post-35343-0-55312100-1464978501_thumb.jpg

post-35343-0-11556700-1464978515_thumb.jpg

post-35343-0-54142000-1464978526_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know that I've ever seen a thread on this. Great question. I think Addie`s solution is your best bet. If you look around you can probably find plans for free on the internet, then all you have to buy is the blades. I think a much better tool for the job than a coping saw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made this one when I was a teenager. Bought blade, file handles and brass rod, and scraps of oak.

post-35343-0-71575500-1464984366_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the cheap off the shelf coping saws from the hardware store with 16 tpi blade.  17 or 18 tpi would be a little better.  Any stock over 20mm thick then the jig saw would be handy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not against power tools once you know how you want to work. I'm still using no power tools as part of discovery process.

The wood has to come off somehow. I use my largest fastest straight cutting saws to lop off as much bulk as possible. Then carve down the thickness around where the outline will be as much and as fast as possible.

After all that, actually cutting the outline is much easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm an oddball.  I never do anything the "proper" way.  I rough it out inside, and then outside as a rectangle.  Digging the center bout area down is a bit of a pain.  But then when I cut it out with a coping saw, or usually my fret saw that I modified to use regular coping saw blades, it cuts easy because it is only 5-8 mm thick.  I don't even get the final outline until I get it even closer to completion.  

 

Now that I think about it David Beard does it just about the same way.  Maybe I'm not that odd?

 

Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 My pro violin maker friends here just laugh at me and tell me to bring my backs and neck blocks down to the shop and use their bandsaws, 

Since I know you are a violinist I would advise you to take them up on it.  I had a young and athletic friend who decided to sell his bandsaw and revert to the old saws (like the ones Addie posted).  And even this strapping fellow injured himself so badly he couldn't make for 6 months.  

 

He ended up keeping his bandsaw.   :)

 

Of course, the old boys used them so there must be ways of doing it that are not so harmful.  At the very least, be careful. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't wish to sound contradictory, but digits become detached instantly with band saws. Hand saw injuries require stitches, and seem to be rarer than electrically assisted amputations. :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a band saw and use it regularly.  Band saws are just like motorcycles, as long as you're scared of them you will be alright.  It only takes a second of letting your mind wander and you got BIG problems.  I would love to be able to do away with mine, but the truth is I'm spoiled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I know you are a violinist I would advise you to take them up on it.  I had a young and athletic friend who decided to sell his bandsaw and revert to the old saws (like the ones Addie posted).  And even this strapping fellow injured himself so badly he couldn't make for 6 months.  

 

He ended up keeping his bandsaw.   :)

 

Of course, the old boys used them so there must be ways of doing it that are not so harmful.  At the very least, be careful. 

Um.... yea.... maybe some details? like was he sky diving while sawing out plates? or driving to work? Maybe strong like bull ....smart like tractor?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't give up. I'm in the same boat as you -- I do just about everything by hand

 

I use a bow saw (or turning saw) like the one addie posted above to cut the outline. It does work but you have to be patient. I've found that setting the blade to cut on the push stroke rather than the pull, offers a bit more control. The blade also needs to be tensioned properly and if you push too hard the saw will bind. Keeping the work firmly clamped close to the edge you are cutting also helps reduce chatter. I use my tail vise. if you are cutting more than a half inch stock, thin the edges a bit.

 

My bandsaw is set up for re-sawing, honestly i can cut out a violin back faster than it takes me to swap out band saw blades.

 

Here is the saw i have. You can get it at lee valley or direct from Gramercy. Price has gone up quite a bit from when i bought it

 

Chris

post-45462-0-47132000-1465083471_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a janky 'C" shaped coping saw I bought at Ace hardware, it's not too big. The frame is 5" x 7" . It works fine and I don't find myself getting injured, only annoyed that it is not a band saw. I'm about half as fast as the band saw taken thoughtfully and carefully. 

 

I find good blades, not too fine, not too rough,good steel and really sharp. They seldom break, if you are breaking them buy beefer sharper blades. The frame is nothing the blades are everything. I can cut close to the line, but I use the medium or rough half round cabinet makers file to file up to the line. And smaller diameter file to get in tight radii. And sandpaper wrapped around dowels and various blocks to work right to the line and fair it out, or fine metal files.

 

I use a slightly smaller Jewelers frame saw to cut small hardwood parts, the right blades are the key, not to rough, not too fine. 

 

My advise get a band saw. Not having one sucks royally. I only get by because I have skill, would rather have a band saw, or three. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Um.... yea.... maybe some details? like was he sky diving while sawing out plates? or driving to work? Maybe strong like bull ....smart like tractor?

Maybe.

 

My friend has incredible tool skills and above average strength.  But things somehow went wrong when he decided to use a bow saw.  I don't know why because I wasn't there.    

 

But if it can happen to one person it can happen to another.  My point to M. Appleman is that since he is a player he should be even MORE careful.  Injuries from making, as well as just normal wear and tear on the hands,  don't do a player much good.       

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I generally use a bandsaw , and for cello Cs a bow saw.

it's very important to have a sharp blade , and I've taken to using scraps of good bandsaw blade in my bowsaw.

last summer I cut a set of plates out with my coping saw for the first time in years. The trick is to rest your foot on a box , so that you can use your knee to clamp the plate th the underside of the bench, then just take your time and cut around. Most modern coping saw blades are very poorly made and need sharpening, and the set hammered out. But with a well dressed blade you can cut close to the line, smoothly and quickly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Um.... yea.... maybe some details? like was he sky diving while sawing out plates? or driving to work? Maybe strong like bull ....smart like tractor?

  HAHAHAH 

Laughed hard. 

 

Igor make strong like Bull cutting violin plate. Win gold medal in plate cutting. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My advise get a band saw. Not having one sucks royally. I only get by because I have skill, would rather have a band saw, or three. 

 

I couldn't imagine having to cut guitar cross braces and headstock sides without a bandsaw so yes do get one of them.  Maybe a viola or cello build using a bandsaw would make life easier but the last violin I made, or still making, was coping saw only.  Wasn't bad at all, just had to have the mindset of cut the wood by hand and get it done.  I should add if it were to be a commission type of build then the bandsaw would be on until the last possible moment not needed anymore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not a "gadget guy" at all, but I always thought it would be cool to have a modified version of this in my shop for violin work.  It is called a chevalet and used in the traditional french school of marquetry

 

 

 

 

post-24615-0-47326600-1465137751_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fascinating, to me at least, is this video of a shop (Sentor) in China going from drying tonewood to varnish. Relevant is the use of hand saws for cutting backs. So fast, so 'hand done'. 

 

Stentor video

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use well trained marmosets...beavers want too much compensation., It is pretty amazing to watch them use their cute little paw hands to pull the trigger on the jig saw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is evidence that the Spainish introduced nutria to the Po Region to assist instrument makers. There is supporting evidence from CT scans of Cremonese instruments, which show gnaw marks inside the plates. And of course teeth marks on pegs are ubiquitous. And everybody knows there are no saws in the Stradivari tool collection. What more proof do we need? Well, since you ask, the Accademia is testing Le Messie for nutria saliva.

This research is brought to you by the Accademia Segreta di Maestronet. :rolleyes:

post-35343-0-40713600-1465150487_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.