Sign in to follow this  
peace

Opening the top plate

Recommended Posts

Hi all the violin restorers, I have just taken on a violin repair project and will appreciate few advises. I managed to loosen the top plate all around the entire rim but got stuck at the area under the fingerboard. Is there any easier way to loosen up this part of the top plate without removing the fingerboard? Thank you for your suggestions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There should be no need to remove the finger board, doesn't stop anything. and it about doubles the "return to normal" effort.. I've developed, a system of sorts, after a bunch of looking ,I think Triangle strings ,primarily,First thing "clean" cause theirs gonna likely be some chips that need to be glued back , no sense having to sort good chips from bad .... but ... with the long knife to work it into the upper seam up to the neck, feel for the neck, Knowing that if I'm feeling the neck then I'm over the top block, then to wiggle the knife down and around the heal. I'll index the knife with a thumb and pull it out, to gauge how far in the knife extends, so far it's worked well, except once when I tried with a bent knife that pulled up into the top ,Now I use a better opening knife. It's also good to hold the knife such as if things open fast, the knife doesn't fly into ....something you don't want...Like your hand. Try to see if there is a pin stopping things. If there is ..... pain . I will twist the knife to try and lift the top up but some times the top /neck mortise is tight and won't let the top come off. then I will just slip the top side to side to either break the little piece above the pin loose or the pin it,s self .( I have only worked on low end stuff and would be very interested to hear about other approaches to this problem.)   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...Is there any easier way to loosen up this part of the top plate without removing the fingerboard?...

 

Removing the fingerboard would not make it any easier.

 

Presumably you are using some sort of opening knife.  You have to make sure that you are trying to push the knife through the seam where the top is glued to the block.  If you're trying to push the knife into the block, it won't go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made a super long opening knife that I insert  through one of the upper bouts after ALL perimeter is off, and just the top block needs to be released. I put it all the way through and grab the end with my other hand on the opposite side, and use this leverage to wedge right into the seam nice and easy. This is all of course after I've loosened the sides near the neck heel. It's worked real clean and quick for me multiple times. A bit unorthodox perhaps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The degree of joint strength on the neck block can vary from similar to tail and end blocks to surprisingly strong in some cases.

In those surprisingly stubborn cases, I prefer to go for the option of fingerboard off for the benefit of less stuff in my way.

 

There is also the advantage that if there is a wood pin hidden by the fingerboard, it will be obvious upon removal.

 

If you don't have access to special tools, (I am an amateur as well and get by with what is available), check out the kitchen knife drawer for one of those long, broad, triangular shaped vegatable knives that you can pass from one side to the other side of the

body and have a sturdy pry handhold on both sides for extra control.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't take the fingerboard off, guys. If you can't handle a top removal, you don't want to open the bag of headaches leading to burst boards, split necks, etc. that an overglued board might hand you. Work an opening knife in to the joint between the block and top and gently tap it in toward the center from either side, keeping a firm grip on the spruce top and upper ribs with a cloth or length of leather, all resting in a cradle. Tap a razor blade down between the top edge and the neck heel. When it's mostly released, gently pivot the top back and forth a few times and draw it off the top block. ANY slivers left on blocks should be wet with towels and sliced off to be glued back into the spruce plate. If you lose any, press fresh spruce slivers into the torn gaps, or fill with something. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had a top or two explode more or less at the top block when I was apprenticing simply because I forgot to separate it there lol. You basically have to toss the top and either make a new one, or pitch the fiddle.

A crack can occur at the SLIGHTEST movement if you're not careful while the block is still attached. Then you have a crack repair and studs involved. No fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Take it easy, go as slowly as required, understand in which direction the wood will tend to split while working on the various areas of the edge, and have your opening knives shaped correctly AND CLEAN.  

 

I use three opening knives.  Slightly varied lengths and thicknesses. The long lead edge of my primary one has an edge ground and buffed in that extends into the tip (but are not too sharp) and all are true (no bends or wobbles in the edge). I tend to draw the opening knife gently outward (rather than just pushing them around as I've witnessed some doing) as I open the seams and use a similar motion to work into the edges of the blocks.  As you start in on the upper block, you can ensure you're hitting the edge of the glue joint dead on by looking in the endpin hole. If I encounter an intact pin I have several ways I can deal with it...depending... (including, occasionally, a very fine, thin, flexible saw with no set to the teeth, but you must have enough wiggle room to be able to give the saw clearance between the block and the top.. it does't require much though). I do use a high proof alcohol (190 proof or better) in an insulin syringe to help with stubborn spots... but don't overdue (more is not better) it and give the stuff enough time to crystalize the hide glue where you apply it.

 

I've not removed a board to remove a top unless the board needed to be removed for some other reason (like it required replacing).

 

If you're working with cheap (commercial) contemporary fiddles, try to figure out what glue was used in assembly and how flexible the stuff is.  You may need to alter your approach.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris and Jeffery's laid out some good practices. One thing I sometimes use on the upper block is a hacksaw with a blade prepped like an opening knife. Teeth ground off and blade thinned. The advantage is that you can get a fairly thin blade far inside the instrument with less risk of wandering up into the top. The tension of the saw keeps the blade stiffer and straighter than an opening knife. The down side is that it's a little ungainly, so I only pull it out for a stubborn top where I'm worried about getting that last chunk that is hard to reach with a palette knife or a top with a a lot of grain runout.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Three words of warning. 

 

  1. If the rib ends are set into slits into the side of the neck, you may have an original through-neck.  Check for the top plate upper edge being inserted into a slit or recess in the neck root, rather than being cut out around it. This takes a lot more careful wiggling to loosen it.  You might need to pop the fingerboard.  If you look, and don't find this, then don't worry about it.  If you do, tell us, and ask more questions.
  2. The possibility of an index pin has already been mentioned.  Check for this with a very bright flashlight under the fingerboard before you do anything else.  If you find one, ask us more questions.  If not, be thankful
  3. If the top plate cutout is deep and very tightly fitted onto the neck, you'll need to slit down both sides of the overlap with some sort of thin razor knife, and wiggle the loose plate up and down very carefully while pulling it back off the neck.

Very, very good luck. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I use three opening knives.  Slightly varied lengths and thicknesses. The long lead edge of my primary one has an edge ground and buffed in that extends into the tip (but are not too sharp) and all are true (no bends or wobbles in the edge).........

 

Jeffrey, if you have time would you mind posting a photo of your opening knives?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffrey, if you have time would you mind posting a photo of your opening knives?

 

Happy to, John... but it may be tomorrow.  Running around a bit too much today.  I only have two of my knives here presently, but the third is just a longer version of the primary one.  The longer one is at my weekend shop (working on a cello there).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffrey, if you have time would you mind posting a photo of your opening knives?

 

OK...  had a minute to snap an iPhone photo.  Primary opening knife is the one on the right:

 

post-17-0-53875700-1480525264_thumb.jpg

 

 

You have TWO workshops lol?!

 

Ummm.. Yup.  One in town and one on a lake & river (more like a channel now)  Old photos, but they are pretty much the same with the addition of a boom microscope and a few other "things". (sorry about the varied file size... didn't have time to mess with photoshop this morning) Both shops are quieter than Oberlin.  :)

 

Town: post-17-0-92880300-1480525460_thumb.jpg post-17-0-60687100-1480525507_thumb.jpg

 

Lake: post-17-0-92511400-1480525632_thumb.jpeg post-17-0-79927900-1480525734_thumb.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.