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Dmitri Q's Bench (10-year-old making a viola)


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Of course I am proud of him! It's a great project for him to do this summer, very much the right amount of challenging tasks. I let him out of math lessons a few times already because he successfully argued that violins are math.

There's a lot of hard stuff going on right now in our family and in the world, so I really like hearing the guys work together in the shop. Dmitri looks forward to that time every day.  Also...he is pretty confident in his abilities anyway, but after this he will very much be a changed kid. 

He seems to be moving so fast, which means he really loves what he's doing too. 

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Excellent work ... great progress.  Normally we only see 10 year old prodigies playing the violin.  It is a pleasure to see a 10 year old violin making prodigy.

Don't let him skip to many math classes.  Next time you can ask him to calculate the density of a maple or spruce billet mathematically and then to verify it with a physics experiment.  Is he keeping his own notebook, if so it could be a treasure later when he looks back.

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I don't know if he's some kind of prodigy. He picks things up well. But his dad will also draw a line and tell him not to plane past it. He's not making a lot of decisions, just following the steps. He has almost made plate-scrapping errors too. Honestly, not sure he can listen to his father perfectly when he will have to. It's still rather early. Not to diminish what he has already done. It's really amazing to watch.

I will definitely see about calculating maple density. That is a great idea. We do stuff like that all the time, it's just when I pull out the workbooks he is oddly not that enthused about long division and interpreting graphs. Which is what every standardized test is about. 

I remember Bill Yacey saying his daughter made a violin at 9. It's all about being taught the steps and doing each step with guidance! I wonder who else here taught their kids violinmaking? Probably a lot of people.

 

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28 minutes ago, Jim Bress said:

Math puzzle. Calculate billet density. Do the density vary between upper bout, lower bout and center bout area?  Is the difference meaningful?  Things to spark a conversation.

Youre gonna have to tell me how to show him that. You cover the billet in saran wrap and dip it in a 5-gallon bucket of water and mark the water line for total density. Something like that. But the sections...how are you able to seperate. them out? 

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From two different bow makers, a couple of years apart, while discussing density they each grabbed sister sticks (same billet with heads facing opposite directions) that haven't been carved yet.  By multiple methods (balance point, hanflex, hanging weight, heat capacity) they were shown to vary in there stiffness/density along the length of the billet.  On my next build I plan on taking a billet length cut off and measuring how the cut-off varies in density along the length of the cut off.  If the variance is pronounce I may be able to use this information when choosing arch height or thicknessing.

I wouldn't submerge a plate I'm caving, but you could use sand instead of water to measure volume.  Balance point and and SG on either side of balance point can tease out if the density is higher or lower in the upper or lower bout.  There's probably billet length scraps laying around to see if this is even occurring  in spruce and maple as it apparently does in pernambuco.  This be part of your home math and physics class.

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What you described was the physics experiment. To do it mathematically you first have to calculate the area of the trapezoid of the billet (the part that is waxed) then multiply that by the length of the billet.  You now have the volume of the wood. You now just need to weight the billet to get the mass.  Density = Mass / Volume  (use a calculator for this). 

The motivation for this calculation is that this just happens to be one of the critical properties of choosing the right woods for violin making.  Some makers like low density spruce, others medium density and then there is Sitka spruce.  He can then calculate the density of some of the billets of his dad's stock pile as partial "payment" for his tutoring.

 

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2 hours ago, catnip said:

What you described was the physics experiment. To do it mathematically you first have to calculate the area of the trapezoid of the billet (the part that is waxed) then multiply that by the length of the billet.  You now have the volume of the wood. You now just need to weight the billet to get the mass.  Density = Mass / Volume  (use a calculator for this). 

The motivation for this calculation is that this just happens to be one of the critical properties of choosing the right woods for violin making.  Some makers like low density spruce, others medium density and then there is Sitka spruce.  He can then calculate the density of some of the billets of his dad's stock pile as partial "payment" for his tutoring.

 

Perfect. We had covered some area calculations but not of trapezoids. This will be fun.

 

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

I would too. We have had a rough summer though. It was going along fine and he was getting in the shop a lot... but Dmitri's grandma died, really horribly and unexpectedly. It was and continues to be very hard. Also my husband broke his thumb. He couldn't even demonstrate how to hold a scraper. Full stop. Dmitri moved on to other projects too. At least temporarily. I would love to see him come back to it, because this time he rebuilt a motorbike that goes 40 mph. Making a mistake on his viola would be much safer. I think, in combination with everything,  he was getting to a point where he saw he could easily mess up and that is his personality, he doesn't want to mess up. Ever. He has to learn that sometimes he will make mistakes (especially with a new skillset), know how to be kind to himself, and see that he can usually figure out how to fix whatever it is...and yeah, learn the engineering principles on a viola ideally, for my sanity and why not also, to document a project of his that is amazing and also 100% legal. Yes! That would be terrific. His projects involving ever-more-powerful engines are not my favorite, that is true. 

I really appreciate you asking. 

 

 

 

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Sorry to hear all of this, especially about the loss of a loved one. I hope you all stay well and heal. 

13 hours ago, not telling said:

 I would love to see him come back to it, because this time he rebuilt a motorbike that goes 40 mph. Making a mistake on his viola would be much safer. I think, in combination with everything,  he was getting to a point where he saw he could easily mess up and that is his personality, he doesn't want to mess up. Ever.

I have a daughter like that, who needs to be perfect at all she does. Quite gifted on the violin, the only thing worse than being reassigned another week  on a piece (many tears) was getting a new one that she could not play perfectly at first read (even more). A chronic health problem forced her to reassess many aspects of her life. Fortunately surgery resolved the primary problem, but it left her with the secondary effect of insulin-dependent diabetes, which has taught her a LOT about the limits of control and perfection.

I was ready to put a bid in on that viola!

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Thanks to both of you. I really think he will come back to it. He still gets excited when he talks about working on it. I will definitely let him know there is some curiosity about his progress. My husband has been getting physical therapy on that thumb for a month or so by now, so I'll tell him to suck it up and show him a scroll carving demo!  

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  • 1 month later...

Sir Dmitri,

Great job thus far. I will toss my hat into the ring for those who are interested in seeing the result. Please stay the course. Remember its about the journey not so much the destination. The lessons learned from our mistakes ultimately add to the flavor of our endeavors. Patience is not only a virtue but one of the most important tools we can carry with us. ( Enough philosophy...already !)

Question.. did you use walnut or black willow for the blocks?  I have been using willow for my linings and like the way it bends.  I also like the contrast in the colors between linings and blocks...  I have been using spruce for my blocks... I may switch to walnut blocks for fun... your thoughts?

ciao

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  • 4 months later...

Not a viola. But! We have moved and Dmitri is helping set up the new shop. His dad asked him to figure out how to get the bulb to shine onto the ceiling. It's a good look, and for this space these type of bulbs are too bright to point elsewhere. This is the design he came up with and executed on his own. It's awesome, don't you all think so too? Not a viola but, not a bad idea for the shop. Viola forthcoming. It's gonna happen.

IMG_20210316_151029110.jpg

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On the walnut blocks question Dmitri said it was definitely willow he used and he doesn't think walnut would be that fun to carve. Plus it's really heavy. 

That nice willow was from cello back offcuts his dad kept. Dmitri didn't know that part but he does now. The thing about teaching him this way is that none of the tools, materials, and methods are guesswork. This lovely perfect willow was just there for the task. It is pretty easy to carve and his dad prefers it too. :)

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  • 9 months later...

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