Hans Kipferle's bench (Violin Cobbler)

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11 hours ago, MikeC said:

Here's a lion head for you to copy.  I tried and failed but I will try again.  I want to use it in place of a violin scroll eventually.   The Turkish meerschaum carvers have some skills!  


lion 3.jpg


Hello Mike, thanks for sending the pictures of your Lion Head pipe. He looks a lot more lionish than my carving, I will try to make the mane bigger on my next practice piece so my pitbull violin head looks as if he is wearing a Lion style wig - a bit like a dog that identifies as a lion? I also need to try to work on refining my carving quite a bit.

Wood carvings and Medieval style Lockdown beards

I really like the way hair was rendered in old carvings. One of my favorite medieval woodcarvings is this one.

See https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berna,_san_cristoforo_colosale_in_legno_da_Christoffelturm,_1344-46,_01.JPG

File:Berna, san cristoforo colosale in legno da Christoffelturm, 1344-46, 01.JPG

I would love to go and see him. He is what remains ( I think there is also a foot surviving) of a giant wooden statue of St. Christopher who stood in a tower above a gateway into Berne. He was made in the 1490's and survived the Reformation but was taken down in 1865 when, the gate was removed during modernisations. He was cut up for firewood and distributed to the poor but thankfully his head (and foot) were preserved - no wonder he looks a bit resigned! I love the way his beard is done and his serene expression.

During the lockdowns of last year a friend allowed his beard to grow longer than usual and I was interested to see that it was starting to get a wavy medieval look before it - like poor old St. Christopher - was given the chop and trimmed!

This picture from http://burgerbib.scopeoais.ch/detail.aspx?ID=107186 shows where he stood and how big he was - nearly 10 metres. More information about his sad story can be found here http://www.dicconbewes.com/2013/05/10/a-vote-to-the-death-in-bern/

Bern: Christoffelturm; Altstadt (obere)

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After making my practice Lion/dog head in Lime I thought I would try one in Sycamore. I drew around my cardboard scroll template and made a reduced size lion head drawing to fit and hopefully work within these 'normal' dimensions. I then drew the scroll on my piece of sycamore


I made a tracing of my drawing and copied it onto the wood


I decided to make a whole pegbox to see how it would work and hopefully iron out any problems before starting on the real neck. I traced and cut out a paper pattern and used it to draw the profile on both sides


I then drilled the pegholes using a brace and shell bit. I drilled just over halfway through from each side to help keep the hole location correct. The thinking being that if the drill wasn't quite vertical the deviation have its worst effects in the wood at the centre of the pegbox which doesn't matter as it will be chiselled away


The pegholes, base of lions chin and back of mouth drilled


I then made sawcuts on the pegbox sides to help when chiseling away the waste material


I then started on the lion head, first sawing a bit of waste from its mouth neck, luckily I remembered wood had to be left for the teeth so I stopped before I reached the drilled hole on the mouth


Here the partly modelled scroll can be seen along with drawings, the limewood head and various tools sitting on top of my small experimental Hans kipferle style  historical bench top


Here I have partly carved the eyes, I find this part very difficult but seem to be improving my method which previously was practically all guesswork. I find it hard to know how much material to remove while still leaving enough to model the eyes and lids


The eyes went quite well, I have blackened the pupils with pencil. The face is still quite square but is coming along


Side view, hopefully I have left enough wood for a mane to counteract the doggy appearance?


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Hi Andrew, Here are my thoughts on the lion-dog. While dogs vary quite a bit, cats alway look like cats. Your tracing and carvings have a lot of mastiff characteristics. The pipe lion's head is a better representation. Try seeing the differences in proportions of the stop (forehead rise from muzzle). muzzle length and shape, amount of exposed nose leather, and cheek bones. Ear position can also provide a sense emotion, i.e., forward ears looks more alert and assertive.

 Lion Facts for Kids | African Animals | Big CatsPin by Edward Coke on English Mastiff | Mastiff breeds, Mastiff puppies, English  mastiff puppies

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Looks like you're doing sort of a Stainer Lion head,  very stylized rather than realistic.    I like the head carving on your frame saw,  how did you do the pins that hold the blade are they strait or tapered?  I used strait ones and they tend to rotate while using the saw.  I've read that old ones have tapered pins so they wedge in and don't have that problem.  

stainer lion head.PNG

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19 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Hi Andrew, Here are my thoughts on the lion-dog. While dogs vary quite a bit, cats alway look like cats. Your tracing and carvings have a lot of mastiff characteristics. The pipe lion's head is a better representation. Try seeing the differences in proportions of the stop (forehead rise from muzzle). muzzle length and shape, amount of exposed nose leather, and cheek bones. Ear position can also provide a sense emotion, i.e., forward ears looks more alert and assertive.

 Lion Facts for Kids | African Animals | Big Cats


19 hours ago, Rue said:




4 hours ago, MikeC said:

Looks like you're doing sort of a Stainer Lion head,  very stylized rather than realistic.    I like the head carving on your frame saw,  how did you do the pins that hold the blade are they strait or tapered?  I used strait ones and they tend to rotate while using the saw.  I've read that old ones have tapered pins so they wedge in and don't have that problem.  

stainer lion head.PNG

Hello, I am really grateful for your and welcome your comments. I have to admit I was not going for a realistic lion but was using this photograph, from a book I have, of a really nice old lionhead on a violin in the Fussen museum as my 'inspiration'.


However a strange alchemy has come into play which has resulted in my dog lion. This alchemy has many magical unknown ingredients but the main ones I can name are - my limitations as a carver compounded with the totally stupid fact I stopped referring to the photo in the book as it was covered with my tools (my bench is ridiculously untidy and cluttered!) and so when working I relied on my corrupted drawings, tracings, my plasticine models and my first practice (very dog like) carving and finally I seem to have involuntarily devised my own lion creature?

Now I have dug my book out and looked carefully at the picture I can see my lion has mutated quite a lot from my source lion, Luckily I have only been making practice pieces so far which have taught me a lot and hopefully I will profit from this when I start work soon on an actual neck and I will definitely keep my book open, after burrowing a hole for it on my bench top. The carving is becoming a bit easier but I need to avoid my tendency to be pleased with things that are ok but not quite there, when the work gets difficult and eyes and brain get tired. I remember years ago I carved some decoy ducks which I thought were good and to me, and to most people, looked like ducks. I took them to a wildfowl sanctuary near where I live, to try to get them accepted in their shop and proudly showed them to the manager - an expert! He looked at them and told me "they are nearly there, but this, it's got a pochards head and a mallards body, they need a bit more work and to be accurate if we are going to put them in our shop" I went home disappointed and I didn't pursue my duck carving further as it was a bit too difficult for my younger self.

Anyway I have been working a bit more on my second practice Lion and it is just about finished, here are some more pictures.

Here I am trying to see a how a gouge can be used to work on the mane


Followed by a flat chisel to add depth to the tresses


I then used a small v gouge to refine the mane


Here the mane is done to my satifaction. I notice now, from this photo, that the ear is a bit poor but my keeness to finish and work on the next bit, meant I was a bit too easily pleased! However at least there is too much material there and they can still be refined? I kept the ears basic and sturdy so they will be less like likely to be broken off


Next day (Today) I started on the mouth using a brace and old shell bit to drill out material


I used a very narrow gouge and chisel to cut away wood and form two teeth and I was eating some cashew nuts and was thinking about the tongue I was planning to instal, he also looked hungry so I gave hime the last one!


When opening up the mouth I drilled the middle hole deeper to fix the tongue in place, here it can be seen along with the teeth, I don't know how I managed to drill it so off centre, but never mind it gives him character? He looks like a hippo from this angle!


I made a trial tongue out of easily whittled lime wood, here it is being put into position


Lime wood tongue in place


I looked through my wood 'collection' for small piece of suitably tonguish wood and most pleased to find a suitably small piece of logwood shown here with the trial tongue. I really like logwood because of its name!


I had some difficulty holding the small limewood tongue when working on it so when making my logwood tongue I slpit off a small section of wood from the small block and kept the tongue attached to the whole even smaller section of wood, so I had something to hold onto when carving it. I still managed to cut my thumb slightly at some point. Here is the attached tongue nearly finished


Here I am separating the logwood tongue from its small block. The logwood was starting to dye my fingers a bluey purple.


I have to say I do believe logwood is a very good choice for a tongue!


Adding whisker holes, with a pointed scriber and pencil, to add a bit of walrus into the dog lion hippo mix?


Woof roar etc! He does look pleased with his new logwood tongue!


I gave him a quick coat of shellac to see how he would look, luckily, as I had hoped, the dirt from my hands doesn't show up too much but I will have to keep my hands cleaner or use a coloured varnish when doing the real neck?


For the sake of competeness I gave the little tongue a coat and it seemed to make the logwood come up nice and red, perhaps the alcohol was reacting to the dyewood? I hope it stays red


I have learned a lot from making my two practice heads but know I need to guard against being too easily satisfied but overall I have really enjoyed making them and most importantly I know the best wood for making the tongue - Logwood!

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2 hours ago, HoGo said:

BTW, why don't you use sme modern glue? But with such long pieces the glue will not hold alone without reinforcement with string or such.

Hello. I  like to try to experiment with 'historically informed' techniques so I was trying to make and use a glue that would have been available when Cornetts were made in the past. I am not giving up but I have put my glue and cornett experiments aside for now and am going to concentrate on getting my two violins made. Thanks for your comments though, any advice is appreciated.

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6 hours ago, MikeC said:

    I like the head carving on your frame saw,  how did you do the pins that hold the blade are they strait or tapered?  I used strait ones and they tend to rotate while using the saw.  I've read that old ones have tapered pins so they wedge in and don't have that problem.  


Hello Mike,

I made that saw about 18 years ago. I am almost certain I drilled the holes with a brace and bit in the saw first and then whittled the blade holding pins from lilac wood so they were a stiff fit in the holes. The tight fit helps stop the blade slipping and possibly the slighty out of line hand drilled holes may help in some way. May be a bit of violin rosin might help things?

I have always liked the idea of carving heads and I like the idea of usermade decorated tools. I carved the female head on one side and still haven't got around to carving the male head on the other side. Now I am getting practice at carving heads I should do the male head and finish my saw - hopefully I can do it so it looks mostly human not too doggish!

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Next on my practice lion head I started to excavate the pegbox to see if I would be able to get access to the A string peg underneath my animal head and to see how it looked. I wrapped the head up to help avoid marking it when pushing against a piece of wood during gouging 


I cleaned up and deepened the cavity to approach what I thought looked a reasonable depth and here I have poked a small gouge throught the uppermost peg hole to see if i could get a string under the chin of the beast and I think it should be ok. I can imagine the tongue would easily be caught on something and be broken in use.


I thought I may as well roughly flute the rear of the pegbox, again to see how the transition from mane to flutes looked and it seemed acceptable to me, maybe it could be extended up a little more to blend more gradually with the hair and on a real neck I will work a little less roughly 


Here are my two practice carvings side by side. I decided to fit the limewood trial tongue into the first head and it seems to set him off nicely!


I have learned a lot from making these, my carving has improved a bit from the experience. I have also learned, once again, how, when involved in making something I sort of am on the 'inside' and get wrapped up in the little project and in that position it is easy for me to be happy with things which are not really what I set out to do. When you have spent time and effort on making something it is easy to become immune to the faults and resist stepping back to cast an 'outsiders' critical eye on  project. Often a little while away from something can refresh things and looking at my practice heads I can see apart from improving the carving and lion-ness I need to reduce the size of the head, especially the breadth up the upper part to make it look better on the top of the pegbox also the fluting and transition of mane to pegbox could be made smoother etc etc.

However, I am still pleased with the limewood and, especially, the Logwood tongues!



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I would try extending the fluting farther and taper it out so it blends better and maybe cut the hair lines into the fluting a little way so it looks like the hair is flowing into the fluting.   Just a thought.  

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/10/2021 at 1:09 PM, MikeC said:

I would try extending the fluting farther and taper it out so it blends better and maybe cut the hair lines into the fluting a little way so it looks like the hair is flowing into the fluting.   Just a thought.  

Thanks for the comment Mike. I will also try to make the upper part of my lion head a bit smaller in addition to the good suggestions you have made.

I have got started on the real necks for my two built on the back violins. I made some drawings to work out the angles of the rib slots in the neck block and the width of the 'foot ' on the integral neck block etc.


I am trying to make the neck angles similar to modern necks using my Johnson Courtnal book. I aim to use "historically informed" methods but would like to make a couple of violins that most players would find ok? I found some sycamore from my small store of churchyard wood and cut it to two lengths required for necks with integral top block


Here they are after some more sawing and planing


One of my self inflicted "historical" difficulties is to use single iron (no back iron/chipbreaker) wooden planes. For finishing these necks off I resurrected a plane I made a few years ago but had not used much. It was not working well, the blade was chattering making it difficult to use and causing a very poor finish so after some head scratching I took some wood off the upper parts of the wedge to direct the wedge pressure more evenly and better nearer the cutting edge of the blade/iron which made it work well. I decided that having made the plane about 15 years ago it was about time I pinned the tenon of the front handle to fix it permanently on the plane. Here is the handle before drilling and drawbore pinning


Here I am using a brace and shell bit to drill the plane.


The same drill was used to drill a hole on the handle, positioned so as to make the wooden pin tend to pull the tenon into the mortice. Here I am shaping a small cleft piece of beech to make the pin


Here is a view of the 'drawbore pin'  being tested for fit before assembly


I then hammered the pin firmly home, I didn't bother gluing it. The pin passes through the tenon on the handle and into a blind hole in the plane on the other side of the mortice. The positions of the holes must have been ok as the pin pulled the handle nice and tightly onto the plane


The pin is then trimmed off with a chisel. Here are my two homemade planes reclining in their roughly made splendour! The smaller one was made first and has been used a lot. They are based upon a plane which was left in 1597 on Novaya Zemlya by an expedition to find a Northeast passage, led by Willem Barentsz https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willem_Barentsz


 I then took my very badly made homemade stamps and stamped my newly finished plane with my customary mark. I have been planning for about 18 years to make a better stamp but it is a bit beyond my skills and I think this uneven stamp has a certain character?


I hope it is ok for me on a violinmaking forum to make these tool digressions? Anyway back to my violin necks, here they are after making out with my cardboard template from the Johnson and Courtnall book but slightly adapted with an integral neck block and 'slipper' foot for the trhough neck construction


By the way, it is probably obvious from my ramshackle approach, but I am to a great extent making things up as I go as I can't find much information on this type of construction so if anyone reads this and has some ideas I would welcome any comments and suggestions?

I then drilled the peg holes with a small shell bit, drilling just over half way from both sides to in the hope of keeping the holes nearer to the right positions in the pegbox walls. These drills having no centre point need a bit of coaxing when starting to keep the mark in the centre of the hole. I am hoping that any inaccuracies of position may be ironed out when I ream the holes to fit the pegs. Here the centre mark can be seen temporarily preserved as the drill starts cutting around it. I really like these shell bits they are easy to sharpen on a stone, I like their simplicity.


Here is a view showing the neck block during drilling, held using pegs and wedges on my small experimental bench top and the small wooden square to help me keep my drill perpendicular to the face of the wood.


To help me judge when I had drilled half way through I put a pencil mark on the drill bit and drilled up to this line


Here both peg heads have been drilled. One of the scrolls will be transformed into a Lion type head at some stage, hopefully I can keep the doghead influence I seem to suffer from 'at bay'?


Hand Drill!

Here is a view of a shell bit just in case anyone may not have seen them. Rather foolishly, but quite characteristically I managed to run the drill but lightly into my finger as I was holding a neck using the brace and bit to clear out the waste, the small crescent shaped cut can be clearly seen nicely illustrating the gouge like shape of these drills! Straying from historical practices, as I did not have a comfrey poultice near to hand, after taking this picture I went directly to seek my tube of antiseptic ointment!


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  • 3 weeks later...

This is what I have been doing In the nearly three weeks since my previous post. Here - continuing with my 'historical methods' thing - I am sawing out a neck, held by a wedge, in the notch my on the front of my small 'experimental' benchtop


My roughly made bowsaw in action


After cutting out the head ends of my necks I started with some caution on their other ends. I was concerned about the proportions of the integral neck blocks and spanish-guitar-like slipper feet as I had worked their proportions out myself and suspected I had very likely forgotten to consider something and was worried that once the wood was cut off the necks may be spoiled!


Here the two necks have been roughly cut out, the one on the left will have a scroll and the other one will hopefully have a Lion type head so I left a bit more material on it


A couple of days later, I have shaped the heads a bit more and decided to work on the foot end of the necks. I find it useful to keep the waste wood sawn from the necks because as can be seen here it can be placed back in its former location so the neck can be held  reasonably easily and firmly when being worked upon in the notch and wedge vice


Here are the two roughly cut neck feet, different depths to suit each of the violins. The crossings out indicate my uncertainty about the proportions, I decided to make the integral neck blocks bigger leaving me the option of removing material to lighten them at a later stage.

First error! (So far - there will be more!)

Around about this point I discovered my first mistake so far with these necks. When I marked out the curve of the neck heels I placed my template relative to my rib markings forgetting that the button is drawn/measured from the edge of the back which will overhang by about 3mm! Hopefully I should still be able to use these necks and still be able to make a button of a 'respectable' size and appearance?


The waste wood from the necks also provides a handy holder for the unfinished necks, here are the necks looking settled, hopefully recovering from the trauma of my most recent mistake, on their little couches, I have also cut some of the wood from the sides of the pegboxes at this stage


About a week later I was part way though shaping the spiral on the scrolled neck and decided to repurpose a very worn out old chisel to help in undercutting the volute. Here I have used a stone to create a curved cutting edge


I then made a small handle for it from some sycamore scrap. I thought I would try a hexagon again, they look a bit more interesting, to me, than an octagon but a bit more difficult to hold when working on them


Here the small blade is fitted and I have applied some walnut oil and rubbed it hard with shavings


The scroll just about done - I have to admit am not very exacting, hence the Violin Cobbler self name


I have found another new use for old holed socks, to keep my scrolls clean


Wearing their sock nightcaps to protect and keep their heads warm, the necks look even more like they are asleep in their own small beds


Two days later I started thinking about the Lion type head. After studying the lion head photo in my book and making some more tracings and drawings I produced a modified, hopefully less dog-like head. The new 'improved' outlines are the drawing in the centre and the tracing on the right and have a slightly upturned head and shorter snout compared to the earlier version on the left


A couple of days later I drew a front view. Here I am using my historically inappropriate fountain pen to ink in the pencil drawing after much rubbing out. My various tracings and drawings are all around


The next night I sought out a small block of scrap sycamore to start to make another trial version


After a few days I have now got Lionhead version number three fairly well underway


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 In the last two days I have just about completed my 3rd practice Lion type head and think that while he still looks a bit like a dog or even a bear, I think he is Lionish enough now, at least for me, to make his debut on an actual violin neck.

Here I have carved the basic shape of the face


Here I have done more work on the eyes, mane and the beginnings of the teeth can be seen


The next day I worked a bit more on the face, mouth and teeth and made a small tongue. Here he is without tongue, unfortunately my close up photos are tending to make the front of his face bigger and the mane smaller than in reality!


I have left one side of the mane rough and half finished just to remind me of the process for when I make another


Here the finished teeth can be seen along with the small logwood tongue ready to go into the mouth


The tongue sets him off nicely


The Usual Suspects!

Here is a lineup of my lion head practice pieces so far, ealiest to latest from left to right. Like a doting parent, I like them all, but I do think that I have made a bit of progress


Front view, again the close up photo is tending to exaggerate the size of the parts nearest the lens


I think my carving has improved a bit. This type of thing comes more naturally to some people. I find that making a three dimensional carving from a photo and drawings is quite daunting. My latest head still doesn't look like the photo I tried to copy but I am getting a bit closer  - slowly!


One last view, he is still a little rough and I need to work a bit on the ears, but I think I'd better get started on the real neck next


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On 2/10/2021 at 1:13 AM, Rue said:

Lookin' good! :)

But if you want it to look more like a lion, instead of a Chinese lion-dog, you'll have to adjust the nostrils/nose. 


Hello, thanks for the lion pictures, I have to admit I have not been going for a realistic Lion look and instead been going for the Lion type heads sometimes seen on old violins. When I see these violin lions they remind me a bit of Durer's Rhino in that they are not realistic (although Durer's rhino is a pretty good representation of an asian rhino) but can sometimes be great in their own way if done well?

Anyway I have now made three practice heads and decided it was time to risk carving one on a violin neck but first I thought I would repair my woodworking apron so I got the old sewing equipment out. At least three generations of my family are represented here, my grandmother's old needle case, spalted beech darning mushroom, bobbins of thread and thimbles and my mothers newish small basket, darning mushroom and the pin cushion I gave her. To the right can be seen the bobbin of "dark elephant" coloured thread and rarely used needles - I have still only used one, the rest are undisturbed in their packet - that I bought when I went off to university. 


My apron repaired I could get started on my violin neck. The full neck is in some ways easier to work on than the practice heads which being small pieces of wood are difficult to hold when working on them. Here the neck is lying on my bench and I am gouging the profile of the head working against the pegs on the bench top.  


The head roughly shaped


The head mostly carved, here he seems to be eagerly anticipating the imminent arrival of his soon to be made small logwood tongue


Here is a latest lineup of the heads, the latest one on the right. I think I have made some progress, it still doesn't look like the photo i tried to copy but should be ok


Front view. The latest head I have got the nose size closer to my model and have taken a bit more care with the mane, ears and generally. I have also shortened the tongue. I can't help thinking the latest head (on the right) looks here a little bit like Bruce Willis - maybe if Durer had made a carving of him, having not seen him but having only a short written description, he would maybe have done something like this but a lot better?


Here are three more views showing my two necks, one with scroll, one with Lion/Willis Head


Close up


Rear view. Hair transplant?


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Great hair!

Love the sewing supplies.

I also have my grandmother's wooden darning thingy. She did teach me to darn, when I was little, and I think I've darned all of 4-5 times!   No one ever complained, so I'll assume the darning was solid, if not polished.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/17/2021 at 1:29 AM, Jim Bress said:

Excellent hair. I really like that the facial expression appears cheerful, or at least amused. 


On 2/17/2021 at 1:34 AM, MMarsden said:

I like the "carved off a third-hand description of a lion from a seaman" look, personally. It's a charm of the era.


On 2/17/2021 at 3:04 AM, Rue said:

Great hair!

Love the sewing supplies.

I also have my grandmother's wooden darning thingy. She did teach me to darn, when I was little, and I think I've darned all of 4-5 times!   No one ever complained, so I'll assume the darning was solid, if not polished.


On 2/21/2021 at 3:36 PM, J.DiLisio said:

Nicely done, now you need to carve little paws for the corners. ;) 

Thanks for your comments, my "Lion head" looks quite like three or four different animals, dog, bear or lion and not forgetting Bruce Willis and still manages to look cheerful - even when being attacked by a chisel! The old sock under his head is an attempt to prevent damage - and headaches.


Here the peg boxes have been excavated on both necks and can be refined later. The lion's tongue can be seen in my hand as it was removed to improve chisel access


I also worked on the fluting on the back - this picture makes the mane look flattened or drawn in with a pencil! The hair is actually better than this photo but all the other faults and roughness are real!


Here I have marked out the neck widths and tried to work out some other aspects of integral neckblock construction, I hope I have not made too many unforseen mistakes


Chiselling a neck roughly to width, I hope I am not posting too many pictures?


I left two small areas unchiselled to help keep things stable when continuing work on the necks


I next needed to work on the neck joint, here is a top view of the marking out. I have derived this joint from information and pictures in BVMA The British Violin book and from my own experince of making a few spanish style guitar slipper foot type neck joints.


Getting ready to saw, to assist my far from perfect perfect homemade bowsaw start the cut I first chiselled small 'bevels' on the waste side of the cut lines to form a channel for the saw to run in. Here the joint/neck foot can be seen from the side. The joint is tapered to fit small wedges that fix the top ribs firmly in the joint - if all goes to plan?


After sawing


After chiselling. The foot is still roughly sawn and will be shaped and refined later


I used a plane to finalise the depth and flatten the surface of the block which will be glued to the back. My lack of skill with my small wooden plane meant I ended up using a scraper and chalk to get the surface flat. If I do this again I think I would do better to plane the surface flat before cutting the neck side profile out as the larger surface of the full neck would be easier to plane flat than the small neck heel area on which the plane can easily rock in my anxious hands (a modern iron black plane being lower would have helped me but I want to use stick to my "historical" theme) Here I am fitting the joint with scraper and chalk





The neck to back joints done I still had to purfle one of my backs. I had a lot of trouble holding the back as I have done the inside arching first. I thought this time I would try my homemade holdfast. The back had to be raised from the workboard surface to give enough depth for my purfling cutters to work, I placed a small narrow piece of lath a bit less than 2" by 1" under the back to do this along with a small piece of wood I moved around to support the section edge being worked upon .  A small piece of leather protected the back and improved the grip of the holdfast and in combination with wooden pegs the back was held quite well allowing me to have both hands contolling my cutters


A slip with my pufling chisel meant a small repair was needed. I used a piece of wood from the offcut of this part of the outline, from when I sawed the back out, to match the grain as best as I could. Here I have glued in the small patch and have used a small kitchen knife to hastily apply a bit of localized pressure. The repair must have been ok as I forgot about and can't recall noticing during later work on the back, so it must not have been too prominent


Here is my bending iron being heated on the poor old much abused gas cooker


Bending a small section of purfling with the hot iron


Purfling fitted and glued. When I was cutting my purfling channels I realised again that these violins are quite eccentric in their appearance! Because of my tool and craft interests I have been concentrating on experimenting with the construction and tools elements and have neglected the refining the 'design' of my outlines/corners. Hopefully I will work these aspects in a more balanced way in any future instruments? 


The purfling done as best as I could, I started to work on 'graduating' the backs. I am deriving the outside contours from the already established inside arching. I used a toothed blade in my homemade metal plane along with my stradivarius style thicknessing calipers (made from an old paint bucket handle) and calibrated wedge. I am using the back thicknesses from a Strad poster as a guide


I decided to try the toothed iron in my wooden plane and found it much easier, less friction wood on wood and maybe its sole profile is better for this work?


Another smaller plane that I never finished making properly reaches the more tightly curved centre sections. You can see my rough purfling here, I am thinking dark varnish may be needed in a sunburst effect, to hide things?


I put a non toothed iron in my little planes and used a scraper after the toothed iron removed the bulk safely. The wood is plain but as I have mentioned already it means a lot to me as I got it from a Sycamore that was cut down in the churchyard about a quarter of a mile from my house and sawed it and dried it myself.  I used gouges to work on the slight scooping at the edges and then planed and scraped the contours 


Thicknessing calipers in action on the other back


I tried burnishing the wood by rubbing it hard with shavings just to see how it looked.


The two backs done, I noticed quite a few gouge marks remain and I will have to scrape a bit more!


Back to the necks, I used a marking guage to mark the width and taper of the neck heel and carried the marks along the necks to act as a rough guide for removing more wood from the neck


I then sawed then chiselled the waste off the neck


After chiselling, here the rough profile of the heel taper can be seen


The two necks roughly done, they can be refined later as appropriate -everything will be done later!


I thought I would do a dry run of clamping the necks. Here my homemade low tech cheap pallet wood and cork floortile - historically possible? - clamps can be seen and work well (I made  and these for closing clamps on my first violin last year)


Here is a close up view of the neck back joint.


I have read that wooden locating pins are not usually seen on the backs of these integral neck violins so am thinking about using some small temporary glued pieces of soft wood in the area to help line things up accurately and to avoid the joint sliding when being glued.

Sorry about such a long post.

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