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Exciting! Looking forward to the completed product!

Where are you moving to?

Hi Rue,

 

I'm staying local.  I've been flipping houses for nearly all of my adult life.  I buy a house that I like that is also under valued because it needs some TLC.  Live in it while I fix it up and then look for another opportunity.  It's like a second job with a very short commute.  If I don't hurry this fiddle will have been made in three different houses/shops.  This might be my last flip.  I'd rather make less money and have more time to make fiddles.  :)

 

-Jim

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Sometimes priorities change!  :)

 

Say!  You wouldn't want to come consult on our house would you? ^_^  It needs refurbishing and I have no idea to where to start...stupid open floor plan... :angry:

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#1 is done(ish)!  Overall I'm happy.  It has been a 4 year journey and I have learned a lot.  The ish is because the setup still need a bit of work.  I know I didn't trim the pegs.  They stick horribly.  By the time I figure out what I'm doing wrong so that the friction pegs can be tuned smoothly they will be the wrong length and I will have to make another set.  The bridge is too flat and makes it difficult to play.  Unless you want a bridge that you can do triple stops with, then its fine. :P  So I'll need to re-make the bridge as well.  The tail piece and chin rest are what I had in a drawer.  I'll put something nice on it if everything else comes together well.

 

With zombie strings (long dead and resurrected to string up violin), the lower strings sound really good, but the E was rather anemic which in part was due to the sound post being too far away from the bridge.  Is that north or south?  I was just happy with a correct fit as I don't plan on doing any adjustments for a few months.  Now it's time to pack up the shop and get ready to move.

 

Please feel free to comment and critique.  #1 has been all about learning and I still want to learn more from it.  I know about a lot of my mistakes.  I'm sure there are many others that my eyes haven't learned to see.  So let me have it.

 

Thanks,

Jim 

 

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Congrats on completing #1! That is an amazing accomplishment!

Here's to many more! :)

P.s. love your turkey!

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I cannot see the details, but one thing that pops out is the sharp edge of the varnish at both ends of the neck.  I think it would look much better 'feathered' into the neck which is rather pale.

 

What pigment(s) did you use?  Seems to have made the varnish rather 'muddy'.

 

---------

If you go to HomeGoods you will never have enough money for #2.

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it seems like my back ground is more interesting than my violin.  :lol:   That turkey is so old I don't remember where it came from, but it shows up as decoration every year.  The kitchen will be in full swing starting tomorrow morning preparing for the family gathering and Thanksgiving feast.  Made a pecan pie, apple butter and flan today.  Starting the turkey brine tonight, and the Cuban pork (a tradition older than the turkey decoration) started marinating yesterday.  Tomorrow I start making the bread dough to bake Thursday morning.  Family's bringing sides that will be judged Bobby Flay throw-down style.  It's a lot of fun, and all washed down with my home brew.  Oh, and the Home Goods is my Moms knitting needles and yarn, who flew in last week for the holiday.  

 

-Jim

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I cannot see the details, but one thing that pops out is the sharp edge of the varnish at both ends of the neck.  I think it would look much better 'feathered' into the neck which is rather pale.

 

What pigment(s) did you use?  Seems to have made the varnish rather 'muddy'.

 

---------

If you go to HomeGoods you will never have enough money for #2.

You are correct on the neck varnish.  There is a slight feathering but not much.  My thought on a straight violin was that the feathering would occur through use.  No?  If not, do I feather by direction of brush stroke pulling away as I approach the neck, or make each parallel coat to the varnish line slightly back from the previous coat?

 

Spirit varnish with Dragons blood.  The varnish was strongly red and I added quite a bit of green synthetic dye (blue and yellow powdered dye from Kremer) to pull the color toward brown.  The real problem that caused the muddiness is too much varnish.  I corrected my poor application technique by adding more varnish to even out the color.  I like the color but not the clarity.  Same varnish and dyes will be used on #2.  Hopefully with better results.   

 

I think the neck appears pale because of how dark the varnish is.  Could be darker, but I was being cautious not to go too dark.  It's a very plain neck that was meant just for practice, but some how survived my efforts well enough to be installed.

 

Thanks for your comments!

 

-Jim

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As you say, to create the 'feathering' you can start each stroke further back from the last one - then give it a wipe with a finger to lose any lines and leave a smooth transition.

 

When you say the muddiness is due to too much varnish, I would rephase to say that it is due to the pigments/powders used for coloration - they are in suspension and not properly dissolved by the alcohol. I suggest experimenting with the colorants and alcohol alone in a jar to make sure that you can get the solution perfectly clear.  If not, change colorants.

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Congratulations, Jim. Very nice result. As I am working on my first one myself, it is nice to see that there is hope! 
Hats off - especially for the scroll! (which is what I struggle the most with,...)

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As you say, to create the 'feathering' you can start each stroke further back from the last one - then give it a wipe with a finger to lose any lines and leave a smooth transition.

 

When you say the muddiness is due to too much varnish, I would rephase to say that it is due to the pigments/powders used for coloration - they are in suspension and not properly dissolved by the alcohol. I suggest experimenting with the colorants and alcohol alone in a jar to make sure that you can get the solution perfectly clear.  If not, change colorants.

Thank Janito.  The dye powders are clear because I made those up separately in small jars of alcohol (blue and yellow).  So the "mud" would be in the dragon's blood.  Pricey stuff so I'll be working with it while it lasts.  Maybe finer filtration will remove more of the larger particles in suspension.

 

Cheers,

Jim

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Congratulations, Jim. Very nice result. As I am working on my first one myself, it is nice to see that there is hope! 

Hats off - especially for the scroll! (which is what I struggle the most with,...)

Thanks.  For me the scroll was the easiest.  I had a very cheap neck block that was purchased for practice.  Other than the initial template I just relaxed and carved by eye, exploring how my tools and wood "wanted" to work together, and how the did not.  There might be a lesson there or the Gods smile on fools. :)   I had every expectation that the scroll/neck would end in the fireplace.  Surprisingly, I was able to recover from mistakes and never hit the fatal flaw mark.  The neck mortise was a different story.  Multiple failures and mortise repairs.  Hardest part of the build for me.  Looking forward to yours.

 

Cheers,

Jim

 

 

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Congrats on your first violin! For me, I think the bottom of the scroll could be wider when viewed from the front. Cheers,

Hi Daryl,  This is exactly the kind of comment I was looking for.  I was on the road when I read your post, and looking at pictures I've already posted I really didn't see what you were talking about.  Then when I held my violin up to the Titian poster (pictured below) I got it.  Thanks for helping me see another detail!

 

Cheers,

Jim

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No problem, happy I could help. While you've got the Titian poster out take a look at the back of the scroll photo as well. Notice how from the bottom of the first turn to the top of the second turn the line moves inward, flowing with the lines from the back of the pegbox/scroll. On yours it appears that the line expands outward from the bottom of the first turn to the top of the second. Cheers,

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No problem, happy I could help. While you've got the Titian poster out take a look at the back of the scroll photo as well. Notice how from the bottom of the first turn to the top of the second turn the line moves inward, flowing with the lines from the back of the pegbox/scroll. On yours it appears that the line expands outward from the bottom of the first turn to the top of the second. Cheers,

Yup, I see it now.  it's nice to see the mistake from multiple angle to see how it all fits together.  It will definitely help with #2.

 

Cheers,

Jim

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Jim, congrats on the completion of your first build! You did a fine job now take all that info and get started on your next one.

Arrg! Did my son call you? :)   My son has been Playing in #1  for me.  I don't think it makes a difference, but one of his past teachers not only believed in playing in but that it mattered if it was played well.  I think it's loony but I don't say anything because I like to hear him play.  Even with zombie strings the violin sounds good enough that he has claimed #2 and is bugging me about when I think it will be finished.  I'll post a picture of where I'm at before I box it up for the move.  Nothing slows work down like moving and having to set up a new shop.  Fun thinking about it though.  Setting up a new shop that is. 

 

Are you coming back to Baltimore in 2017?

 

Cheers,

Jim

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You are well into by the looks of it! Good luck with your move and renovation project. How do find any time to make violins if you are doing that work? We'll see about Baltimore, that was really fun and interesting but I'd love to go to a competition. 

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Jim, it's far better than my first fifteen, You should be proud.

As critique, the varnish obscures, rather than illuminates. Are you using tube pigments? Getting handy with toasting figured wood without burning it is a constant learning curve for me on mine, and the truth is that while there's NO substitute for truly spectacular materials, I rarely have that sort of money, and making and trying every varnish I ever heard of gave me an array of tools to use to coax good effect out of various woods.

Your tools are sharp enough, and your sculptural concept looks to be on the path from the last photo. We all must seek our heroes for varnish and setup work. Every one is a rollercoaster of emotion. every violin, that is. Not all of our heroes are emotional messes.

Nice work, man.

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Chris, thanks for the kind words and critique.  Janito described the same thing referring to the varnish as muddy and hiding the better qualities of the wood.  I agree with caveats.  I think a lot of the problem was do to poor application.  First time spirit varnishing, and I corrected mistakes by adding more varnish.  Too much varnish.  The main color agent was dragon's blood which gave a very strong red.  I pulled the color towards brown by using Kremer powdered alcohol soluble dyes mixing blue and yellow dye to get a green tincture then adding that to the varnish to pull the red towards brown.  The other factor is that #1 is comprised of the cheapest wood I could buy.  I brought out more flame than I started with using UV, tea stain, and potassium dichromate.  I could have gone stronger on the potassium dichromate but I was being cautious not to burn the grains.  I will work with DB for a while longer because it's expensive and I still have plenty.  I've seen some spectacular varnishes that I keep as a mental benchmark.  If I'm not progressing that way I'll switch to something else.  

 

I'm reading "The nature and art of workmanship"  by David Pye right now.  It's kind of a philosophy book on workmanship.  The two big themes are the workmanship of risk and the workmanship of certainty.  It's a fantastic book and is changing the way I think of woodworking and how I view the works of Strad and GDG (for example).   It's a really good book if you haven't read it.

 

Cheers,

Jim

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Interesting premise with the comment "workmanship of risk". My wife (artist and art teacher) uses the words 'high risk' when describing the types of things that I've made in the past. I'll have to read that book it sounds interesting. 

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Ok, the new shop is up and running.  Well, more like crawling.  I still have a little organization to do and I'm having electrical outlets put in later this week, but I've started doing some work.  Mostly working on set-up issues on #1.  String height at the nut was too high which was making me grip too hard while playing.  I lowered the string height to 0.4 mm and also even the spacing of the strings while I was deepening the grooves.  Then I lowered the nut height so the strings are sitting ~1/3 in the grooves.  Big improvement playing wise.  I also upgraded my tail piece to a Bois de Harmonie TP.  A much clearer sound and more ring than the old ebony TP of unknown origin I was using just to get the fiddle under tension.  I'll finally put new strings on when they arrive in the mail later this week.  I've had a couple of good players give her a test drive and the only complaint is the cut of the bridge.  I'll cut a new bridge and fine tune the TP cord length when I go to Joe Thrift's work shop this summer.  Week 2 will include set-up and bridge cutting.:)

Here's some pics of the new work shop and my main work area.  

Cheers,

Jim  

Shop 2017.1.JPGShop 2017.2.JPGShop 2017.3.JPG

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