Amateur Maker

Mold Material

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I used MDF on my first form, and have used cheap plywood and good plywood.  They all worked adequately, although I have no idea if they changed dimensions slightly  or not.

Currently, I would use the Baltic or Finnish birch, since I now have some, and I like the density and fine grain.  It's nicer to cut and shape, compared to the cheaper plywood. If I had walnut, I might use it too... but I really don't care if my forms look like fine furniture.  I just need them to work.

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3 hours ago, lpr5184 said:

I used Appleply for the first time and like it a lot. It is virtually void free and what's nice is it can be ordered online and shipped to your house. Check it out.

http://appleply.com/

Looks like good stuff, graded A-1.  I've been using the BB rated plywood from Rockler (available from store, website, and eBay).  Not as pretty, but good enough, and less than half the cost.

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I use and like MDF. I like it because it can be edge filed easily in any direction and is durable enough. Seal the edges well with shellac or other finish then soap them good except for where your blocks go. For violins or violas it s stable enough for the size of these instruments. Maybe if you are making many (20+/yr) instruments then you'd want plywood or other. Put your money into the wood for the fiddle. 

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If you're going for modern style 'total control', then high quality laminated wood makes sense to me, or just good plywood.

But, if you're aiming to imitate classical making process, including the characteristically 'limited control', then why not use the historically traditional materials.  So Walnut usually for violins and small instruments.   Willow or poplar usually for larger forms.   And use the traditional thicknesses.   These do not fully control the ribs, and you will naturally get a little out of square at times, but that is again characteristic.

So step one in answer the materials questions is deciding on the character of making you want.

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1 hour ago, Michael_Molnar said:

If you find that a certain material holds its shape and dimensions, use it. The player will never know what you used for your form. 

Except for marble, don't use marble

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MDF is a crumbly, dusty material for cutting and shaping. I would recommend the Baltic Birch; it doesn't have any voids, it works well and doesn't chip or crumble like mdf.

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Here's what an MDF form looks like. I haven't experienced any crumblyness/chippyness when using it as mentioned above. Oh and btw what wood or wood product is not dusty when sanding it? ;)

 

 

 

image.jpeg

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16 minutes ago, Mike Spencer said:

Here's what an MDF form looks like. I haven't experienced any crumblyness/chippyness when using it as mentioned above.

That looks a lot like my first form, now a bit over 9 years old.  I just got it down off the shelf, and it seems to be fine (although I only used it once).  Varnished, and I never got it wet.  It actually seems pretty nice... maybe I'll use MDF again some day, although I wouldn't use it for a fancy collapsible form.

 

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Funny you should say that.  I made a few MDF forms before I bought some vinyl? clad pressboard shelving for $2 at Menards.  Actually, I like the MDF better, but it IS extremely  dusty.  I was going to throw a couple out, don't know what I was thinking when I made them, but decided to slice and dice them, and glue on extra pieces to make them right, and simply butt the edges together, and bolt them together with two pieces of hardboard.   I'm even going to put some veneer on them just to make them pretty.

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I've mostly used junk plywood, recycled from some previous usage in many cases, from a scrap pile. I can understand how a better quality and denser plywood, like baltic birch might hold up better to knocking the blocks loose, without pulling out any chunks.

With MDF, the pulling out of chunks when knocking the blocks loose was much worse than with the cheapest plywood. But if one is only going to make one or two fiddles off a form, it probably doesn't matter. MDF also needed to be varnished (or otherwise sealed) to avoid permanent swelling while cleaning glue squeezeout from lining installation. So I don't expect to use it again.

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29 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

With MDF, the pulling out of chunks when knocking the blocks loose was much worse than with the cheapest plywood.

I glued some thin maple shims onto the MDF with really strong glue to prevent that problem.

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I always glue my blocks on with little blocks glued to the face of the mold.  I never had any luck gluing to the edges. They would always fall off.   Gluing with blocks is very stable, and easy to break them free when done.  Hence the veneer top and bottom. 

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