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advice for am absolute beginner


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I've played violin for 4 years and recently I have wanted to try making them. I have absolutely no idea where to start and want to if at all possible avoid spending $100 just on a book. I have tried to find someone I could go and talk to about it but couldn't find anyone who makes violins in my area.  Some more specific questions I had were what is the baseline for tools I would need, what kinds of wood would I need and where could I get it, are there any online or cheap resources I could use for a guide and if not what are some recommendations for good books to look into? Also just advice of any kind would be very helpful.

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Hi ICTOO,

Glad you're interested.  This is a hard hobby to get into without spending a fair amount of money money, though.  As for books, the best cheap-ish books are the Henry Strobel books.  You can start with the "Violin Making Step by Step" book, and add a few more later:

https://www.henrystrobel.com/

This thread has some thoughts on what tools are needed.  I linked to directly Michael Darnton's post to give you an idea how many tools he considers to be necessary.  You could get by without some of them, but it would make things harder, more time-consuming, and less likely to lead to a successful instrument.

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/106465-a-luthier-as-a-hobby/&tab=comments#comment-106478

As for wood, you could start with International Violin  (tools also), though there are many options:

https://www.internationalviolin.com/

You could practice carving (and sharpening your tools so that they cut/carve well) on wood from a lumberyard before taking tools to your "real" tonewood.

As for videos, Davide Sora's, though they are in italian, are my favorites:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCggqGrdYUEovaC9UKnSMD3g/playlists

Incidentally, Davide is a member here and posts good information.  Really, if you're not able to find a mentor (which would be by far the best strategy), reading all of the posts on Maestronet and using the search feature here is your best bet.

Good luck with it.

Joe

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The basics. Learn to sharpen and use a block plane.

Shortcuts aren't.  

Consider asking your local library for the Courtnall and Johnson book via interlibrary loan. You will buy it after seeing it, but that will save you the hundred bucks for a book.

It takes time. It will be as frustrating as fun.

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11 hours ago, JoeDeF said:

Hi ICTOO,

Glad you're interested.  This is a hard hobby to get into without spending a fair amount of money money, though.  As for books, the best cheap-ish books are the Henry Strobel books.  You can start with the "Violin Making Step by Step" book, and add a few more later:

https://www.henrystrobel.com/

This thread has some thoughts on what tools are needed.  I linked to directly Michael Darnton's post to give you an idea how many tools he considers to be necessary.  You could get by without some of them, but it would make things harder, more time-consuming, and less likely to lead to a successful instrument.

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/106465-a-luthier-as-a-hobby/&tab=comments#comment-106478

As for wood, you could start with International Violin  (tools also), though there are many options:

https://www.internationalviolin.com/

You could practice carving (and sharpening your tools so that they cut/carve well) on wood from a lumberyard before taking tools to your "real" tonewood.

As for videos, Davide Sora's, though they are in italian, are my favorites:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCggqGrdYUEovaC9UKnSMD3g/playlists

Incidentally, Davide is a member here and posts good information.  Really, if you're not able to find a mentor (which would be by far the best strategy), reading all of the posts on Maestronet and using the search feature here is your best bet.

Good luck with it.

Joe

I already have quite a few of those tools and I didn't think of practicing on wood from a lumberyard but I'll do that, I can definitely see how it would be helpful. I looked for someone to find to ask about it but I live in myrtle beach sc and at least as far as I can find there isn't too much appreciation for the arts down here, more just a lot of dumb drunk people.

Thanks for all the help!

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On 11/29/2020 at 11:34 PM, I can't think of one said:

 I have absolutely no idea where to start.

 Also just advice of any kind would be very helpful.

I'm going to assume you haven't made anything out of wood.  If that is the case what you could try is your hand at is making a birdhouse small enough to keep sparrows out of, or make a winter roosting box for wild birds including sparrows or make a bird feeder small enough to keep the blue jays, starlings and robins away.  

Doing something like that will give you a chance to make a work space and get some hand tool usage experience.  You could start with a 5/8" x 3.5"  old piece of treated fence picket and slice them in half for side wood for example.  May as well remind yourself to read millimeters again while doing so.

Violin making will be four to five times tougher to do as compared to these easier projects for birds - just so you know.

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Someone here is probably going to hit me over the head with their sturdiest bass fingerboard blank for saying this :blink:, but thinking about it, the easiest way to get started might be to make an electric violin. 

That could be a simple project that would likely yield a playable instrument while giving you a chance to carve a neck, think about the basic geometry of the neck/bridge/tailpiece, and incorporate as much or little carving as your creative design calls for.  For example, you could carve a scroll if you like, or if not, make a scarf jointed paddle-style headstock (like an electric guitar, with lightweight mechanical tuners) instead.  You could buy a pre-made preamp, and your electric violin would sound about as bad/good (judgement call :D) as that preamp would sound in any electric violin.

Just a thought….

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I only have a cello fingerboard handy...

I usually task beginners with jigs and wooden tools, and boxes to hold scrapers and finger planes.

The basic thought is to teach making things flat and square with hand tools that are sharp.

A bow maker friend taught me the skill of planing a tapered octagon and button making by making pernambuco hair pins with ebony buttons. I will post pics tomorrow. They are beautiful and made a wonderful gift as well as teaching a valuable skill.IMG_3680.JPG.aca9aee7ea0b87e7a599adca2b86ad2d.JPGIMG_3681.JPG.50b3d2cc2796941c48f0240a75363dcd.JPG

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There is lost fo good information on internet for free, but you have to wade through lots of ill-informed stuff te get the diamonds. Folks here can recommend good sources that are often cited here on this site.

I would suggest these two for start:

http://www.makingtheviolin.com/

https://fixitwithshading.com/csvm-construction-log/

For restorations or other valuable tips look for triangle strings

https://trianglestrings.com/techniques/

Of course general woodworking techniques MUST be honed as well. From sharpening the tools to planing, joining, gluing (with HHG), use of scrapers and knives etc...

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3 hours ago, sospiri said:

Aphorismtastic!

But it is true!

I had one apprentice who built a table saw sled to cut his neck joints with a dado blade then glue the back on. He found doing it the traditional way much easier and had much more control after he was forced to not use the table saw...same for x-acto knkife blades. Learn how to sharpen!

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14 minutes ago, duane88 said:

But it is true!

I had one apprentice who built a table saw sled to cut his neck joints with a dado blade then glue the back on. He found doing it the traditional way much easier and had much more control after he was forced to not use the table saw...same for x-acto knkife blades. Learn how to sharpen!

Sharpening well is initially difficult, and something we are not taught in high school. Using a table saw, on the other hand...

But maybe "industrial arts" classes, and learning how to use a table saw have now gone by the wayside too.

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17 hours ago, duane88 said:

But it is true!

I had one apprentice who built a table saw sled to cut his neck joints with a dado blade then glue the back on. He found doing it the traditional way much easier and had much more control after he was forced to not use the table saw...same for x-acto knkife blades. Learn how to sharpen!

I use X-acto (or similar) knives for cutting the purfling channel, but I don't consider them a shortcut like disposable blades. I sharpen them regularly on water stones (because they wouldn't be up to the task otherwise) and they last many years. So I agree, learn how to sharpen, no matter what tool.

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I use an X-acto knife (with a straight edge blade) to cut the walls for the little "lining mortises" on the corner blocks. I then use a small chisel to cut down the back and along the bottom to remove the wood. Because the X-acto blades are so thin I have not had an issue with splitting of the blocks even when cutting all the way down to the bottom of the mortise. I am only an amateur maker so I don't know how the experts would do this...

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