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Derek Callaway

Choosing wood for sides

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I am a hobby luthier making my first violin.  I have a question about choice of wood for sides.  

I have a big leaf back and a big leaf neck, and I have cut and prepared sides from each.  The wood from the neck has nice straight grain but relatively little figure and very prominent medullary rays.  The sides cut from the back have irregular grain not at all parallel to the sides but more noticeable figure.  The ribs are all finished with a card scraper.  

Any suggestions for which to choose?  I prefer the straighter grained wood but would love others’ thoughts.  In the photos below, the wider rib is from the back, and the rib in the lower part of the photo is from the neck.  

Thank you. 

BF359AE5-1B77-4B0C-A804-50A3AFE5635C.jpeg

B9E03896-471B-45B1-88EF-2E35E35FD9C2.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Derek Callaway said:

I am a hobby luthier making my first violin.  I have a question about choice of wood for sides.  

I have a big leaf back and a big leaf neck, and I have cut and prepared sides from each.  The wood from the neck has nice straight grain but relatively little figure and very prominent medullary rays.  The sides cut from the back have irregular grain not at all parallel to the sides but more noticeable figure.  The ribs are all finished with a card scraper.  

Any suggestions for which to choose?  I prefer the straighter grained wood but would love others’ thoughts.  In the photos below, the wider rib is from the back, and the rib in the lower part of the photo is from the neck.  

Thank you. spacer.png

BF359AE5-1B77-4B0C-A804-50A3AFE5635C.jpeg

B9E03896-471B-45B1-88EF-2E35E35FD9C2.jpeg

Hard to see the actual grain orientation but the most important factor in rib stock is the avoidance of run out in any direction. That said I think the lower rib in the picture would be the better choice.

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Frankly either will work just fine. I would HIGHLY suggest getting some cheaper practice material to practice with UNLESS you have bent "ribs"  before{violin makers {bowed instruments} call them "ribs" guitar makers call them sides} If you have done bending before, than I would pick what looks best and just go for it, if you have not bent ribs before, well all I can say is very few times has a novice picked his first set of ribs/sides and then actually had those make it on the instrument, it is something that is not uncommon to break/crack/just not get right the first or even 5th time around. A good way to not have 'broken wood heartache" is to get comfortable with cheap crap to get a feel for it and then move to the better stuff.Just my opinion.

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Thanks.  Although I’m far from an expert, I’ve made archtop mandolins whose sides/ribs are 1.5 mm in thickness.  I also have lots of the current rib stock; 10+ pieces from the back and 10 from the neck.  That’s not even counting the additional wood I haven’t resawed.  If I can’t get a garland out of what I have then that’ll be a pretty clear sign that I should take up a different hobby.  

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5 hours ago, jezzupe said:

Frankly either will work just fine. I would HIGHLY suggest getting some cheaper practice material to practice with UNLESS you have bent "ribs"  before{violin makers {bowed instruments} call them "ribs" guitar makers call them sides} If you have done bending before, than I would pick what looks best and just go for it, if you have not bent ribs before, well all I can say is very few times has a novice picked his first set of ribs/sides and then actually had those make it on the instrument, it is something that is not uncommon to break/crack/just not get right the first or even 5th time around. A good way to not have 'broken wood heartache" is to get comfortable with cheap crap to get a feel for it and then move to the better stuff.Just my opinion.

I've never had a huge problem with bending ribs and having them break. As long as they're the right thickness, and you have a decent iron, it's not that hard of a process to do without destroying things. Admittedly, I've cracked 1 or 2, but that was a lesson learned in bending extremely highly flamed stock, where a section of the rib was actual endgrain it was so flamed. 

But the second rib looks like it's sawn in the right orientation. So I'd go with that one. 

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Just now, Nick Allen said:

I've never had a huge problem with bending ribs and having them break. As long as they're the right thickness, and you have a decent iron, it's not that hard of a process to do without destroying things. Admittedly, I've cracked 1 or 2, but that was a lesson learned in bending extremely highly flamed stock, where a section of the rib was actual endgrain it was so flamed. 

But the second rib looks like it's sawn in the right orientation. So I'd go with that one. 

The lower seems to have more flame, the grain orientation seems fair enough on both, I always find highly flamed stuff to bend rather easy, neither of those are highly flamed however, and therefore may fight.

my warning is based on the words "first violin", however he does say "amateur luthier"  and does refer to them as sides, so my sherlock holmes self is deducing he's made some guitars? but not violins,and due to the tight curl on the C bout I'm "just sayin" so to speak

but hey what do I know

I would say that from a perspective of what people are brainwas.. er trained to want to see is as highly flamed as possible, as that's what we're all used to looking at, or what people want to see, so there's that part of the equation, therefore steering it to the more flamed one
  

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2 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

The lower seems to have more flame, the grain orientation seems fair enough on both, I always find highly flamed stuff to bend rather easy, neither of those are highly flamed however, and therefore may fight.

my warning is based on the words "first violin", however he does say "amateur luthier"  and does refer to them as sides, so my sherlock holmes self is deducing he's made some guitars? but not violins,and due to the tight curl on the C bout I'm "just sayin" so to speak

but hey what do I know

I would say that from a perspective of what people are brainwas.. er trained to want to see is as highly flamed as possible, as that's what we're all used to looking at, or what people want to see, so there's that part of the equation, therefore steering it to the more flamed one
  

Highly flamed ribs are indeed easier to bend, albeit more tricky because they tend to crinkle, in a kind of way. Also, they're at risk of breaking rather easily. One thing I learned was that you can't soak them for too long.

This is my ideal for rib flame, personally:

IMG_20200326_013728.jpg

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4 minutes ago, Nick Allen said:

Highly flamed ribs are indeed easier to bend, albeit more tricky because they tend to crinkle, in a kind of way. Also, they're at risk of breaking rather easily. One thing I learned was that you can't soak them for too long.

This is my ideal for rib flame, personally:

IMG_20200326_013728.jpg

Yup, that's nice stuff, I never really soak anymore, I spritz

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