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Navyasw02

Tips for getting started on my own

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After getting interested in violin making about a year ago, I'm looking to try making one to see if I enjoy the process enough to invest the time and money into going to school and pursue it as a second career. I have tried to get in with and learn under several different local makers with no success. At this point, I'm just going to try on my own. I bought the Johnson and Courtnall book and have read a lot of information online including lurking here, but I'm looking for suggestions to get started. A few questions in particular:

 

1. Are there any good videos worth getting? I'm debating getting the Peter Prier DVD, but don't want to spend that kind of money if it is not well received. Any other videos people recommend?

2. Basic tool kit- recommendations? I might just start with items listed in Johnson and Courtnall

3. Any makers do online based training or Skype type sessions? As active duty military, I am unable to attend workshops since I'm moving overseas in a few months.

 

Any other recommendations for starting out? Thanks for the help.

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I am just a hobby maker since 2 years, but here are some additional suggestions to the ones mentioned:

- dont give up your first career just yet, it will take quite a few years of hard work,  talent and luck to make this into a carreer

- read this Pegbox forum from the beginning (2001) there's loads of interesting stuff here, more than you can learn from 1 luthier

- start with tools you have, dont buy expensive tools right away but look for decent 2nd hand (i still make my scrolls with 2 old Nooitgedagt gouges)

- for special tools like peg reamers/shavers, mini planes etc. you can start with cheaper chinese ones, upgrade as you go

- just start building, make lots of mistakes and find some decent players for feedback

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Best of luck! Davide Sora and Manfio both have stellar videos that actually show techniques. YouTube I think has them. I,d say the J&C book is fairly comprehensive, prior woodworking experience,definitely a plus. One thing important is to not skimp on quality tools, they will cost a pretty penny, but never leave a person wanting. A big tendency is to get best quality wood , I sure did, but hindsight being twenty,twenty, , perhaps practicing on middle quality wood might have served more appropriate. One philosophy I use often when trying something new, for example in this instance , to place the focus in essence on individual steps, your not building a violin, rather selecting wood for a violin, you are not making a violin, you are Cutting wood to 1.2 mm. Or bending a piece of wood, And so forth. By isolating specific actions the various elements sort of come together in a cohesive whole. 

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Thanks for the suggestions.

James and Emil  - where do you recommend buying good tools? Based on your comments I'd think good tools are probably what I'd like, but not necessarily great or all encompassing. Is international violin a good dealer?

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1 hour ago, Emilg said:

I am just a hobby maker since 2 years, but here are some additional suggestions to the ones mentioned:

- dont give up your first career just yet, it will take quite a few years of hard work,  talent and luck to make this into a carreer

- read this Pegbox forum from the beginning (2001) there's loads of interesting stuff here, more than you can learn from 1 luthier

- start with tools you have, dont buy expensive tools right away but look for decent 2nd hand (i still make my scrolls with 2 old Nooitgedagt gouges)

- for special tools like peg reamers/shavers, mini planes etc. you can start with cheaper chinese ones, upgrade as you go

- just start building, make lots of mistakes and find some decent players for feedback

Definitely not quitting my primary job yet, just easing into it. I have only a few more years until I'm retirement eligible.

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21 hours ago, Navyasw02 said:

After getting interested in violin making about a year ago, I'm looking to try making one to see if I enjoy the process enough to invest the time and money into going to school and pursue it as a second career. I have tried to get in with and learn under several different local makers with no success. At this point, I'm just going to try on my own. I bought the Johnson and Courtnall book and have read a lot of information online including lurking here, but I'm looking for suggestions to get started. A few questions in particular:

 

1. Are there any good videos worth getting? I'm debating getting the Peter Prier DVD, but don't want to spend that kind of money if it is not well received. Any other videos people recommend?

2. Basic tool kit- recommendations? I might just start with items listed in Johnson and Courtnall

3. Any makers do online based training or Skype type sessions? As active duty military, I am unable to attend workshops since I'm moving overseas in a few months.

 

Any other recommendations for starting out? Thanks for the help.

What was your first career?  

Maybe a good second career would be teaching violin makers to do what you did for your first career.

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Tools:

Don't waste time, money and enthusiasm on cheap tools. It ain't gonna work. Instead think long and hard about every single tool purchase but don't buy anything that you don't need.

Ideally, you buy tools as you go and as you require them for the next step. Takes a bit longer for #1 this way but ensures you only buy the tools you need.

Sharpening is vital (as above). That's not something to worry about later. Research this well. I ended up biting the bullet and buying a small Tormek eventually. Should have done it earlier.

 

Help/ Advise:

If you get started and seek to consult a local luthier with a specific question about your next step, wood in hand, you may find a more welcoming reception.

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3 hours ago, James M. Jones said:

Best of luck! Davide Sora and Manfio both have stellar videos that actually show techniques. YouTube I think has them. I,d say the J&C book is fairly comprehensive, prior woodworking experience,definitely a plus. One thing important is to not skimp on quality tools, they will cost a pretty penny, but never leave a person wanting. A big tendency is to get best quality wood , I sure did, but hindsight being twenty,twenty, , perhaps practicing on middle quality wood might have served more appropriate. One philosophy I use often when trying something new, for example in this instance , to place the focus in essence on individual steps, your not building a violin, rather selecting wood for a violin, you are not making a violin, you are Cutting wood to 1.2 mm. Or bending a piece of wood, And so forth. By isolating specific actions the various elements sort of come together in a cohesive whole. 

Great advice.  On wood, general lumber suppliers often have decent Engelmann useful for practicing.  I had a perfect 12" wide board that I used for several tops, after aging it for years.  I used silver maple out of my yard for quite a few neck blocks.  Wonderful wood!  

The simple steps are the way to go.  Make ribs.  Lots of ribs.  Practice joining spruce and maple.  Thin the wood after and try to break the joints.  Make sure the glue holds.  Get some decent wood for neck blocks, practice laying out, cutting etc, to end up with several scrolls, a couple to laugh about and a couple to use!  

Study the threads here on everything.  Especially tools and their use.  Tools and technique generate a personal feel to an instrument.

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On 12/24/2018 at 4:59 AM, Navyasw02 said:

I have tried to get in with and learn under several different local makers with no success.

Still, that's the only way.

You can't just learn it from a book.

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10 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

What was your first career?  

Maybe a good second career would be teaching violin makers to do what you did for your first career.

Pretty easy - spend 20+ years in the military, move so many times you start running out of fingers, and defer a lot of dreams. There are a lot of positives that outweigh the negatives, but it is very much all encompassing of your life rather than a 9-5 job.  I'm a jack of all trades former submarine officer turned engineer officer and diving and salvage officer and I do both acquisition and ship repair.  If you want to learn how to run a nuclear reactor, drive a submarine, land a ship on blocks in the drydock, install cofferdams, do underwater hull inspections, salvage sunken ships and aircraft, recover grounded vessels, dive scuba and hard hat diving rigs, run dive chambers and do hyperbaric medicine, conduct submarine rescue operations, manage multi million dollar overhauls of ships, deliver new acquisitions, herd cats in both subordinates and management, make 17 revs of PowerPoint presentations changing small dog to puppy, babysit admirals, and make bilges and brightwork shine, I'm your guy.

Edited by Navyasw02

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8 hours ago, Guido said:

Tools:

Don't waste time, money and enthusiasm on cheap tools. It ain't gonna work. Instead think long and hard about every single tool purchase but don't buy anything that you don't need.

Ideally, you buy tools as you go and as you require them for the next step. Takes a bit longer for #1 this way but ensures you only buy the tools you need.

Sharpening is vital (as above). That's not something to worry about later. Research this well. I ended up biting the bullet and buying a small Tormek eventually. Should have done it earlier.

 

Help/ Advise:

If you get started and seek to consult a local luthier with a specific question about your next step, wood in hand, you may find a more welcoming reception.

Any recommendations for sharpening lessons? Good YouTube or websites? Thanks

 

As for getting luthiers to help - Ive had a lot of enthusiastic responses, but no follow through. 

Edited by Navyasw02

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Assumption based on what’s been written so far; you recently retired and are looking for a second career following the mantra first 20 for your career, second 20 for your self. Been there, done that.  If average quality isn’t in your vocabulary, I’d suggest looking into one of the violin making schools.   If you need to test the waters first the Derber book is laid out like a course textbook. To save time on deciding which of many correct ways just follow the steps start to finish. By the end you should have a good idea if you have the violin making full on addiction or just a mild infection that will pass. However, if you need a job to pay the bills, it’s probably better to stay in hobby category until your next retirement (my COA). 

-Jim 

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1 hour ago, Jim Bress said:

Assumption based on what’s been written so far; you recently retired and are looking for a second career following the mantra first 20 for your career, second 20 for your self. Been there, done that.  If average quality isn’t in your vocabulary, I’d suggest looking into one of the violin making schools.   If you need to test the waters first the Derber book is laid out like a course textbook. To save time on deciding which of many correct ways just follow the steps start to finish. By the end you should have a good idea if you have the violin making full on addiction or just a mild infection that will pass. However, if you need a job to pay the bills, it’s probably better to stay in hobby category until your next retirement (my COA). 

-Jim 

Basically yes, a few years from retirement and seeing if this is something I'd like to do full time and invest in going to violin making school.

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On 12/25/2018 at 6:04 AM, Navyasw02 said:

Any recommendations for sharpening lessons? Good YouTube or websites? Thanks

Ron Hock makes blades, wrote a book, has a website with some information on sharpening, has an email newsletter, and some youtube videos. There are worse places to go for information.

I don't know much about the GI Bill, but I do know of some students who attended trade schools on it, so it might be worth investigating if you are interested investing just time.

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On 12/25/2018 at 7:04 AM, Navyasw02 said:

Any recommendations for sharpening lessons? Good YouTube or websites? Thanks

 

As for getting luthiers to help - Ive had a lot of enthusiastic responses, but no follow through. 

Email me. I think I can help.

jpschmidt44@gmail.com

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The Derber book is a great resource, but my best suggestion would be to befriend a good shop while you learn.  There are many professionals who would be willing to keep you moving along and on course while you try to make your way.  Well timed input could save you many years of heading off down the wrong road, no one knows what they do not know.  Also, get to the VSA convention; 4 or 5 days at a convention talking to people will be of great benefit.  

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6 hours ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

The Derber book is a great resource, but my best suggestion would be to befriend a good shop while you learn.  There are many professionals who would be willing to keep you moving along and on course while you try to make your way.  Well timed input could save you many years of heading off down the wrong road, no one knows what they do not know.  Also, get to the VSA convention; 4 or 5 days at a convention talking to people will be of great benefit.  

I went to the 2017 convention, but wasn't able to go to this years. I am moving overseas again so my time is up to build a relationship with a local maker after trying for the past year to find someone willing to work with me. I'll just start on my own and hopefully once I get something tangible folks would be more willing when I'm back in the States.

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As a self taught hobby maker,  I would say :

- learn to educate your eye (watching pictures and details and videos and comparing with your own doing/results)

- learn to educate your hand/body (K Bryant speaks about "muscular memory" when repeating thousand times his shooting). That will serve you from sharpening to purfling to channeling.

- buy the best tools you can. You can get lots of advices on every step of the making here on maestronet, but without proper tools, you won't be able to apply the techniques (to joint the plates , to inlay purfling, to glue and clamp, etc) and get frustrated. Plus using nice tools is part of the pleasure of making. Try to not harm the tools in the process of learning (wrong sharpening, blade falling on the floor ,etc.) :)

- perseverance and will to learn from your mistakes . Your next violin will be your best 

 

Enjoy and have faith !

Hope the logistics constraints won't stop you!

sug

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