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The future of violin-making traditions in a world of powertools

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1 hour ago, caerolle said:

Sailing sounds like a mighty fine thing if you are sitting on the deck with a nice cool adult beverage in your hand. Being a deckhand, not so much. :)

I prefer running before the wind with a spinnaker set, but I've certainly done enough of the other at the marina (along with tending mackerel steaks, etc., on the Magma). :)

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Unless you're the most bankrolled factory producer, or have more orders than you can meet at a price you couldn't want to be better, reputation in the market is probably an overwhelmingly more critical factor then time or cost efficiency

In that light, I think ones tool choices should be whatever helps you work your best, and supports the character of work you aim for. 

For someone who is trying to make what the old classical makers did, as they did, then hand tools all the way makes sense.  But for one taking a more science and tech motivated approach, using power tools and modern tech generally makes sense.

So the answer depends on the character of your approach.

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8 hours ago, Violadamore said:

I prefer running before the wind with a spinnaker set, but I've certainly done enough of the other at the marina (along with tending mackerel steaks, etc., on the Magma). :)

:)

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16 hours ago, TimRobinson said:

As one who is returning to sailing after 50 years, is the difference between power tools and human power analogous to the difference between power boats and yachts?  Both will get you there, but in one it is about the journey.

Tim

 

I don’t think they are analogous. Sailing and motoring are simply different modes of travel. It all depends on your criteria as to which is more suitable.

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58 minutes ago, curious1 said:

I don’t think they are analogous. Sailing and motoring are simply different modes of travel. It all depends on your criteria as to which is more suitable.

I do think there are some similarities.  Sailing and motorboating are mostly for the experience of doing it, and not for just getting from point A to point B.  (From the point of view of an avid windsurfer... where the hopeful result is returning to point A at the end.)

Sailing.jpg.8dd0198561fac4ee77df760077334579.jpg

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17 hours ago, curious1 said:

I don’t think they are analogous. Sailing and motoring are simply different modes of travel. It all depends on your criteria as to which is more suitable.

I suspect you don't sail :D

 

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Mike, interesting about the leather shoes. 

Some people are moving more away from power tools, some more towards. 
Doesn't make much difference if the quality of work is high, some tools just work better in the hand, others don't. 


 

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I don't think that power tools really speed up the work much. 

Apart from a bandsaw, which makes ripping ribs off a block and sawing out the scroll outline doodle, hand tools are just as quick as anything else.

A scrub plane will rough arch a violin, and a block plane will thickness a set of ribs in minutes. My approach is to get the donkey work out of the way as quickly and efficiently as I can, and there are thousands of years of experience and innovation in the hand tools, aimed at doing just that.

And there's far less dust and noise!

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I do not think that the debate between power tools vs hand tools should be seen only with a view to greater or less efficiency and speed of execution (however questionable, as Conor and others points out, I also put myself among these).

In my opinion making violins is an ancient work that deserves to be preserved, persist in using manual methods and tools also has the purpose of preserving the skills and knowledge necessary to use them, otherwise in a short time all this would fall into oblivion and would be irretrievably forgotten.
We have already had clear examples of this at the end of the eighteenth century and we are still paying the consequences, so I prefer to keep alive the use of hand tools, leaving the extensive use of power tools to those who are more concerned with production than with the historical survival of our work.
I have no intention of denigrating those who use them if they declare to use them (and this is another important point), I respect everyone's right to make his personal choices.

It's just a matter of different vision and different approach to work that for me is very important.

A too romantic vision?

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All my life, I have been an involuntary, often even unwilling listener to discusions, or arguments about the need or not of machine tools. When I opened my own business in 1987, one of the first things I did, was to buy a really good band saw – one of these.http://www.ehro.ch/index.php?id=20 My father almost excomunicated me, there was absolutly no need for something like that &&&, and indeed it was prominent amongst his marketing strategies, „no Maschine Tools“. I pointed out that he was a hypocrit, since for the last 40 years, he had given night classes in violin making at the West Bridgford Technical College, in their woodwork workshop, where there was an aray of all imaginable Maschine tools. Perhaps he had a good tactic there! I wouldn’t give up my band saw for anything, and don’t want or need any other maschines, a tea pot perhaps

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46 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:
 

I do not think that the debate between power tools vs hand tools should be seen only with a view to greater or less efficiency and speed of execution (however questionable, as Conor and others points out, I also put myself among these).

In my opinion making violins is an ancient work that deserves to be preserved, persist in using manual methods and tools also has the purpose of preserving the skills and knowledge necessary to use them, otherwise in a short time all this would fall into oblivion and would be irretrievably forgotten.
We have already had clear examples of this at the end of the eighteenth century and we are still paying the consequences, so I prefer to keep alive the use of hand tools, leaving the extensive use of power tools to those who are more concerned with production than with the historical survival of our work.
I have no intention of denigrating those who use them if they declare to use them (and this is another important point), I respect everyone's right to make his personal choices.

It's just a matter of different vision and different approach to work that for me is very important.

A too romantic vision?

Well said.

After the spine surgery, i had to limited my sitting time so I can work only about 3 or 4 hours per day. I was considering the choice to use power tools in some phases of work,  to spead and ease the work process but after some thinking I decided against it, at least while I can still do what needs to be done without power toolls (though I do use electric drill to make a holes in a pegbox). I simply enjoy working the way I did before the injurie and I am not prepared to sacrifice that for now. I can still make 4-5 violins per year and that is enough for me to make for living. 

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3 hours ago, Conor Russell said:

A scrub plane will rough arch a violin, and a block plane will thickness a set of ribs in minutes.

I must have the wrong planes.  I can leave them with the wood all night, and in the morning they haven't done a thing.

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7 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

I must have the wrong planes.  I can leave them with the wood all night, and in the morning they haven't done a thing.

You need to be nicer to your house faeries. :)

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When I was younger I was much more interested in the way I worked. I thought that veracity to tradition and work as prayer were the important things. Now I concern myself chiefly with the thing I produce. It’s not so much about me anymore. 

Technology is a continuum and I will use whatever tools necessary to produce the best instruments I can.

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2 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

 I wouldn’t give up my band saw for anything, and don’t want or need any other maschines, a tea pot perhaps

 

2 hours ago, Marijan said:

 (though I do use electric drill to make a holes in a pegbox).

 

Of course I do not mean to say that we must be Taliban, I also have electricity in my workshop.:)

I do not think having a band saw or a drill press make us forget how to use a hand saw or a hand drill, it's just a matter of will.

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7 minutes ago, curious1 said:

When I was younger I was much more interested in the way I worked. I thought that veracity to tradition and work as prayer were the important things. Now I concern myself chiefly with the thing I produce. It’s not so much about me anymore. 

Technology is a continuum and I will use whatever tools necessary to produce the best instruments I can.

 

Everythings depends on the meaning that each of us gives to the word "made by hand", everyone is free to interpret it as he wants and to give it the value he wants.

Here in Italy the law says that if you have made at least 20% (or so) of the work here in Italy you can say made in Italy, if you have up to 20 employees you can still declare craftmanship work.

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1 hour ago, curious1 said:

I believe being a great violinmaker has little to do with being a great woodworker. 

Yes, in the sense that you can make great sounding violins even using CNC if you know what to do.

But if you have to work by hand (personal choice) you need to know how to use hand tools developing the skills to control them very well, in order to do what you want to do without chasing your mistakes, in this case it is essential to be excellent woodworkers.

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3 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

Yes, in the sense that you can make great sounding violins even using CNC if you know what to do.

 
But if you have to work by hand (personal choice) you need to know how to use hand tools developing the skills to control them very well, in order to do what you want to do without chasing your mistakes, in this case it is essential to be excellent woodworkers.

I contend that with knowledge and adequate woodworking skills one can be a great violinmaker. This is what a late Guarneri del Gesu shows us. 

Is it not the same in music? It is not always the most technically proficient but those who know how to shape a phrase (a different kind of skill) that move us. 

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From My own experience, there is a lot of handwork that needs to be proficient, work that very possibly no machines will ever replace, best to master hand skills first ...A  cnc to carve plates might be nice , but if it still takes a worker six weeks to compleate because of lack of hand skills the end result is a net loss.

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57 minutes ago, curious1 said:

I contend that with knowledge and adequate woodworking skills one can be a great violinmaker. This is what a late Guarneri del Gesu shows us. 

Is it not the same in music? It is not always the most technically proficient but those who know how to shape a phrase (a different kind of skill) that move us. 

Of course I agree, but this is an old refrain that can makes many people think that the technique does not serve, but this is not the reality.

For a modern violin maker I believe it is better to be appreciated when he is still alive than after several decades after his death.

For music I also agree with you, but I still prefer someone who can move us with excellent ability to master technique and intonation.

In both cases the problem is not to be victims of the technique but to know how to use it correctly and in the right direction and yes, also in the right amount.

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