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Shunyata

Carving the Pegbox

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I have an exquisite piece of maple that I have shaped for my latest neck and is now ready to carve.

 

When I carve out the pegbox, it is hit or miss whether I can keep from breaking the small edge at the back of the pegbox.  Obviously my technique is missing something.  Any suggestions?

 

The wood this time is particularly figured so I am even more worried about breaking a piece off.  I don't want to crap this one up!

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5 hours ago, Shunyata said:

I have an exquisite piece of maple that I have shaped for my latest neck and is now ready to carve.

 

When I carve out the pegbox, it is hit or miss whether I can keep from breaking the small edge at the back of the pegbox.  Obviously my technique is missing something.  Any suggestions?

 

The wood this time is particularly figured so I am even more worried about breaking a piece off.  I don't want to crap this one up!

Get close to your final line with a very sharp flat chisel (which is probably what you normally do). Then undercut it a little bit with the same flat chisel, leaving the fragile edge alone. Then make your final cuts on that fragile edge with a bridge knife, always cutting downward (sliding the knife blade toward the back of the scroll with a downward slicing motion) during each cut.

Does that description make sense? If not, I can try to draw a picture.

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Too late for you now, but I always carve the pegbox first. With the blocked squared remove the wood on the face of the pegbox, draw your desired design, and go to town. I find that this makes the work go much faster, as you can clamp the block more aggressively and really go at the pegbox without any worry of damaging the beautiful scroll you just spent hours carving. No worry of blowing out the pegbox walls either. Not sure if this would address your concerns, but there you go.

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9 hours ago, Shunyata said:

When I carve out the pegbox, it is hit or miss whether I can keep from breaking the small edge at the back of the pegbox. 

Presuming this is the small and fragile edge at the back of the pegbox that you are talking about, this is the part I do with a knife, as described below. The angles I have shown on that wall in the drawing are exaggerated for clarity.

 

4 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Get close to your final line with a very sharp flat chisel (which is probably what you normally do). Then undercut it a little bit with the same flat chisel, leaving the fragile edge alone. Then make your final cuts on that fragile edge with a bridge knife, always cutting downward (sliding the knife blade toward the back of the scroll with a downward slicing motion) during each cut.

 

Scan10.jpg

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5 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Get close to your final line with a very sharp flat chisel...

I'm using torrefied maple for my necks and scrolls, which has a higher tendency to split out.  So I do a few extra things...

I use my sharp flat chisel, but only well short of my final line... with the added precaution of only taking light cuts in this area.  The goal is to break through to the pre-drilled A peghole, and start the undercutting there.  Definitely avoid levering against the delicate edge when undercutting.

I apply shellac or some other ground coating to the delicate edge, and let that dry before using the knife as David describes to start cutting the edge back.

I have to do the coating and knife cut multiple times to carefully work back to the final line.  And sometimes the "final line" gets moved farther back if there is an accidental split-out.  I can also come in from the side with a very narrow chisel to make a chamfer on the edge, which I usually do anyway even if there are no micro-splitouts.

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A three axes CNC cannot get under the scroll’s chin. So I finish it up just as Burgess does above.  I use a scalpel with a 10a blade and small 6mm  Flexcut chisel for this delicate work.

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10 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

I can also come in from the side with a very narrow chisel to make a chamfer on the edge

I have also been making a small chamfer to prevent splitout, but is this frowned upon?

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15 minutes ago, violinsRus said:

I have also been making a small chamfer to prevent splitout, but is this frowned upon?

I figure that a clean, small chamfer goes along visually with the scroll chamfers, and is good insurance against some eventual owner's sloppy use of pliers while putting on an A string.

David could probably answer about the view of the hoity toity crowd.

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I too have sometimes extended the pegbox a little to hide my shameful break out!  And I have hidden a small break with a chamfer.

The diagram was helpful... Thank you!

I hadn't thought about applying a ground.  Interesting.  Do you torrify your own wood, Don.  I have seen some woodpeckers do this in a electric oven.

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18 minutes ago, Shunyata said:

Do you torrify your own wood, Don.  I have seen some woodpeckers do this in a electric oven.

Yes, I have a torrefying chamber and torture the wood in there.  An electric oven is not atmospherically controlled, and is just baking.

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20 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

Yes, I have a torrefying chamber and torture the wood in there.  An electric oven is not atmospherically controlled, and is just baking.

I just looked up “torrification” and it seems to be a way of quickly drying out wood.

Is that true? And if so, what was the Reverend Morris complaining about when he spoke of English makers “Baking” their wood, which he claimed destroyed the sound?

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1 hour ago, violinsRus said:

I have also been making a small chamfer to prevent splitout, but is this frowned upon?

 

1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

I figure that a clean, small chamfer goes along visually with the scroll chamfers, and is good insurance against some eventual owner's sloppy use of pliers while putting on an A string.

David could probably answer about the view of the hoity toity crowd.

I don't recall it having come up in discussion in a judging situation, but I suspect it would be frowned upon if the rest of the instrument was conventional, and if it was noticed.

That fragile area is pretty well protected, and becomes much stronger once sized with filler and varnish.

It hadn't occurred to me that someone might go in there with pliers. Don, maybe you should include some gold-plated tweezers with every fiddle? ;)

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David,

Are you saying there are no chamfers on the pegbox (interior)? 
 

1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

 

I don't recall it having come up in discussion in a judging situation, but I suspect it would be frowned upon if the rest of the instrument was conventional, and if it was noticed.

That fragile area is pretty well protected, and becomes much stronger once sized with filler and varnish.

It hadn't occurred to me that someone might go in there with pliers. Don, maybe you should include some gold-plated tweezers with every fiddle? ;)

 

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On 5/13/2020 at 12:41 PM, Michael_Molnar said:

David,

Are you saying there are no chamfers on the pegbox (interior)? 
 

Not on Stradivari or Amati, I don't think. Unless someone can think of some exceptions. Guarneri?

How about on other fiddles? Any Brescian? Fussen?

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If I was trying to make a faithful copy of one of those guys, and was trying to win a workmanship award, I might care more.  But since neither of those are what I'm trying to do, meh.

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25 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

If I was trying to make a faithful copy of one of those guys, and was trying to win a workmanship award, I might care more.  But since neither of those are what I'm trying to do, meh.

Fiddlemaking ain't rocket science, and rocket science ain't fiddlemaking. ;)

I was just trying to respond to Molnar's question, which I presumed to be about historic use of chamfers on the pegbox interior.

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12 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Fiddlemaking ain't rocket science, and rocket science ain't fiddlemaking. ;)

I was just trying to respond to Molnar's question, which I presumed to be about historic use of chamfers on the pegbox interior.

And you answered it.  It’s good to know these fine points about historical workmanship.

 

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14 minutes ago, Michael_Molnar said:

And you answered it.  It’s good to know these fine points about historical workmanship.

 

I might be wrong... lets wait and see what comes down the pike from someone like Bruce.

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