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F-hole finessing hacks

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How do you smooth the insides of f-holes?  I didn't have anything to do last night around 2:30, of course not, so I made a bunch of sanding sticks, but that got me thinking that the shape that made the most sense to me couldn't be made out of a toothpick, wooden coffee stirrer, bamboo skewer, popsicle stick or whatever else it was I found in the kitchen. I've never cut an f-hole or anything that is so close to perfectly perpendicular as an f-hole is.  So I guess I don't know if my idea about making a right angle sanding stick makes sense.  The idea is to soften the angle on the visible top of the f-hole while maintaining the off-the-knife sharpness of the bottom side of the f-hole cut.  So these instruments may look almost fragile in the f-hole area, but that is not actually the case (thickness is close to the rest of the top anyway).  A lot of my favorite instruments have that look, but I don't really know how to make something that could duplicate that effect. Such a question is beyond my pay grade so to speak, and no doubt my husband has his way of doing that if he needs to, but I'm still curious.  What do you all use for f-holes once you're 95% done with them?  

 

 

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I use a knife only with some horsetail. Are you antiquing? The sides of the holes are as thick as the belly. 

Edit: I use the horsetail on the outside to soften it a bit, so the varnish won't chip off as easily.

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19 minutes ago, Conor Russell said:

I use a sharp narrow flat knife.

I don't sand or file them at all.

I confess that I have resorted to a sharp round file in an emergency but the crisp clean look left by a sharp knife is hard to beat. I've made soundholes with or without the upper and lower hole cutters.

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I use little sandpaper files because after knife cutting I have the habit of putting glue on the walls, that swell and need to be refreshed.

If they are used well and sparingly the look maintain its sharpness, not rounded at all.

Damn, I can no longer deny it since I did this video :

 

 

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carl1961   

Excellent as always Davide, Your videos or professionally made too. great close details Thanks again.

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Exceptional work and beautifully filmed. My only criticism, and it really is being very picky; I would have used an inside soundhole template. They follow the arching better. 

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2 hours ago, Roger Hargrave said:

Exceptional work and beautifully filmed. My only criticism, and it really is being very picky; I would have used an inside soundhole template. They follow the arching better. 

Thank you.

I had thought of doing it with inside template "a la Stradivari", but my intent is to show my method, not to make a philological reconstruction of the Stradivari's original method.

I also have to admit that I know so well how to behave with my template, which I've adapted over the years to work well on my arching, that I'm lazy to change method knowing that at the end I would probably get the same result but with more trouble:)

 

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On 8/7/2017 at 4:53 PM, Davide Sora said:

Damn, I can no longer deny it since I did this video :

I do everything better since I watched this.

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Nice video, Davide. I'm impressed that you are locating f-holes from inside. I've tried that a few times, but it never worked out for me.

I finish f-holes with my knife rather quickly, and I like the no-muss no-fuss look I get. I don't mind seeing a kink here and there as long as f-holes (or rather a whole instrument) look classy. Although I understand that's quite a different approach from Davide, or David Burgess. But, hey, you gotta choose the side you're most comfortable and natural with.

Having said that, I must admit sometimes I clean upper and lower holes with a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a reamer without cutting edges. 

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2 hours ago, Tets Kimura said:

Nice video, Davide. I'm impressed that you are locating f-holes from inside. I've tried that a few times, but it never worked out for me.

I finish f-holes with my knife rather quickly, and I like the no-muss no-fuss look I get. I don't mind seeing a kink here and there as long as f-holes (or rather a whole instrument) look classy. Although I understand that's quite a different approach from Davide, or David Burgess. But, hey, you gotta choose the side you're most comfortable and natural with.

Having said that, I must admit sometimes I clean upper and lower holes with a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a reamer without cutting edges. 

Positioning of lower eyes is not a problem from the inside and it's quite reliable, upper eyes is more tricky due to arching hollowing, so no longer the measure on the drawing will correspond to the real measure. So the best thing to do is positioning the lower eyes, put on the stem templates (or your complete F-hole template as I do) looking for the right and desired inclination of stems to locate the position of the upper eye, then transfer the measure on the other side to keep the same distance from ribs line.

A problem that may arise is that the ribs may be not centered on the center line, not a problem at all for old makers because in the alignement of the neck nailed to ribs they centered it with the C bout ribs and not with centerline (see Hargrave theory)

With modern system the centerline is often the main reference, but if you take care that your center joint is precisely centered on C bouts the inside placement work as precisely as every other outside placement system.

 

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3 hours ago, Tets Kimura said:

 

I finish f-holes with my knife rather quickly, and I like the no-muss no-fuss look I get. I don't mind seeing a kink here and there as long as f-holes (or rather a whole instrument) look classy. Although I understand that's quite a different approach from Davide, or David Burgess.

That's fine. I don't use sandpaper on the ffs myself, but do spend quite a bit of time on final cleanup with a knife.

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17 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

That's fine. I don't use sandpaper on the ffs myself, but do spend quite a bit of time on final cleanup with a knife.

From the pictures I saw with great success. My wife called them surreal looking, when I showed her. 

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I would have a question to ask those who use only the knife for the f-holes : do you put glue inside the walls as I do or I'm the only one?

 

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20 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:
 

I would have a question to ask those who use only the knife for the f-holes : do you put glue inside the walls as I do or I'm the only one?

 

I put on the same sealer as on the rest of the instrument.

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55 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:
 

I would have a question to ask those who use only the knife for the f-holes : do you put glue inside the walls as I do or I'm the only one?

 

Hi Davide. I glue-size them. Creates less of a difference between the hard and soft grains when cutting, and makes it much less likely that I will break off the pointy parts when cutting aggressively.

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4 hours ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

I put on the same sealer as on the rest of the instrument.

 

4 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Hi Davide. I glue-size them. Creates less of a difference between the hard and soft grains when cutting, and makes it much less likely that I will break off the pointy parts when cutting aggressively.

Thanks for the details, I can figure that Torbjorn puts the sealer on the finished f-holes and then does not touch them anymore, but David, may I ask when do you put the glue on?

 

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4 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

 

Thanks for the details, I can figure that Torbjorn puts the sealer on the finished f-holes and then does not touch them anymore, but David, may I ask when do you put the glue on?

 

After sawing and drilling, I'll do some crude cutting with the knife, before glue sizing and making efforts at refining. I don't think it's a big deal when one does the glue sizing though, except that when one glue sizes when there is still a lot of material to cut away, you'll cut away most of the wood that has been sized, so you need to glue size more times.

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4 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

After sawing and drilling, I'll do some crude cutting with the knife, before glue sizing and making efforts at refining. I don't think it's a big deal when one does the glue sizing though, except that when one glue sizes when there is still a lot of material to cut away, you'll cut away most of the wood that has been sized, so you need to glue size more times.

Thanks for being more specifi.

I also tried this way, but it give me the sensation that the wood becomes more brittle under the knife, while without the glue it seems more "pasty", so now I prefer to glue size at the end.

Feelings and habits are difficult to change.....:rolleyes:

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7 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:
 
Thanks for being more specifi.
 

I also tried this way, but it give me the sensation that the wood becomes more brittle under the knife, while without the glue it seems more "pasty", so now I prefer to glue size at the end.

 
Feelings and habits are difficult to change.....:rolleyes:

Sure. No criticism whatsoever, from my end. One thing that can raise my hackles is a maker or restorer who comes across as if their preferred way is the only right way. I've been around the block enough to know that stuff like that just doesn't stand up. I don't think you have ever come across that way, and I hope I never have either.

(Sorry, I've used some American English dialect, but you seem to do OK with that)

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10 hours ago, David Burgess said:

 One thing that can raise my hackles is a maker or restorer who comes across as if their preferred way is the only right way.

Yep (note the slang...), this is one of the most stupid and obtuse attitudes, which unfortunately occur frequently among makers.
I hate them.

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23 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

 

Thanks for the details, I can figure that Torbjorn puts the sealer on the finished f-holes and then does not touch them anymore, but David, may I ask when do you put the glue on?

 

Why? How is I different from David? :o :huh:

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