RLC

First violin - looking for advice.

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Hello Maestronetter's,

I thought rather than post numerous questions in The Pegbox, it might be a better idea to start a thread here?

I am very slowly making my first violin.  I have the Johnson & Courtnall, and the Herron-Allen books, however, I'm still unsure of a few things.  I would very much appreciate if any of you kind folks could comment and guide me in the right direction.


My issue of the day is; When do I stop scraping?  I am finding it difficult to get the figured maple silky smooth.  Is silky smooth what I should be aiming for? I have searched the forum and found that using abraisive paper is a no-no, so how do I get rid of the micro 'pits and fur' on the back?   I have noticed that the flamed parts of the maple are smooth and shiny, however I'm finding it almost impossible to achieve this in between the 'flames'.  Attached should be a photo.  Thanks for any advice.

DSC_0253.jpg

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The surface looks pretty smooth in the photo. Burnishing the maple with horsetail helps smooth things out. Great looking maple.

-Nice glue joint too!

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Thanks for the reply lpr.  I shall research and look for horsetail.  I'm sure a species of it grows here, though much smaller than the photographs of it that I have seen.

Onwards and upwards,
Roddy.

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Perfect the bur on a flexible scraper and scrape at an angle to the curl run out. That will get you to smoothness and light reflectivity sandpaper will not achieve. 

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In addition to getting an ultra-sharp scraper edge, it helps to swipe the scraper a bit sideways on the wood, slicing the wood rather than cutting it (think of how you use a knife... it cuts cleaner if you don't just push the knife straight into what you're cutting).

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Usually scraping at some oblique angle to the grain is what it takes and that angle will change in many places all over the plates. You have to look and pay close attention to the grain direction and what effect the scraper is having and then adjust to get the best results. Maybe look up Davide Sora's videos.

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4 hours ago, FrankNichols said:

I second that emotion... :)

 

I third the emotion. Sora videos on scrapers are great. In fact, all the videos I have seen are great.

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If you're having trouble with the scraping I would look at your sharpening technique, try different types of scrapers and edges, and scrape from different angles. I would bet that your scrapers are not sharp enough.

Your scraper should be able to pull fine curls almost like a block plane when it is cutting on un-figured wood. If it is just rubbing dust off the violin, then you're not getting a clean cut. If it is set to a really fine burr those curls may be extremely fine, but they should still be little curls, not dust. 

If you are having trouble getting the bumps and lumps out of your arch try stiffer scrapers or edge types that allow you to work with the scraper at a steeper angle so it resists the contour of the wood a little more. You'll have to bend it to match the arch a bit, but you want the longest stretch of edge contact you can get while maintaining the curve you want. It's a basic principle that you want 'the largest tool for the job' which essentially means fewer cut lines to make up the end result. That means fewer waves and marks on the surface. 

There are lots of posts of scraper shapes and types if you want to see what people are using. For arching I use probably 5 different scrapers or so, but could probably reduce that if I really tried. Figured wood is tricky, and the ideal angle to scrape changes a lot because of the way the split of the wood changes with the figure and the arching. As you work you'll eventually have a mental map of which way to work the different portions of the arch as you approach you finished surface.

You can use the sandpaper in the purling channel (AKA the beer channel) and edge work. I use a little piece of sandpaper rolled up to look a bit like a cigarette but. It helps to make a nice curve, but has some flexibility. On the edges I take a section of a plastic bottle (like a typical soda bottle) that is cylindrical and smooth. I attach some sandpaper with spray adhesive to the inside and outside. Once dry it is a nice little sanding caul that you can bend to match the contours of the edge work, and resist the tendency for sandpaper to follow the soft grain, leaving the hard grain tall. 

Another general tip, which is very helpful is to check you arch on with light at a low angle so each bump casts a tall shadow. You can also check symmetry this way. If you block the light with a straight edge it will show you the arch shape as well where the shadow give a straight line. I always check my arching in full sun before I call it finished. Hold it up in the light at a low angle and pencil mark the places that show bumps. You can also work in a dark room with a single light at a low angle to your arch, and that can be handy. I'll often work in the dark with a head lamp on the table, which I move around the arch to check things as I go.

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