Installing pegbox bushing in inexpensive no-name violin


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Background:  I started learning violin in grade school and once I was big enough for a full-size violin, my parents bought me a used Scherl & Roth Karl Herrmann student violin, which I still have. I have no idea how much they paid for it nor what it's worth, now.

I lost my violin teacher in 7th grade, stopped playing until I was in my 30s, but then took lessons again for a year or two. During that time of taking lessons, I had some repairs done to my violin and also bought an inexpensive no-name violin with a Glasser bow for about $100 from a music store in St. Louis. Music Folk, I think? The goal with this instrument was to have a "beater" that I didn't have to worry about, but I liked its tone better than the Scherl & Roth. Then the Scherl & Roth's tailpiece broke at the E-string fine tuner.

I stopped playing again for 10+ years (again lost teacher because she moved, then I did), and recently started up again a couple of months ago. Both bows had been the victims of bow bugs, so I traded the Glasser bow in for a rehaired one. The Scherl & Roth violin has a crack to the bass side of the tailpiece on the top plate, and I still haven't replaced the tailpiece, so I started using the "beater" violin, thinking that if I kept up with it for a year, I'd spring to get the crack repaired and tailpiece replaced on the Scherl & Roth, and its bow rehaired, since that's probably the better violin, and also has quite a bit of sentimental value.

I consider myself a beginner, still, and am currently getting back up to speed on my own.

In the meantime, the "beater" violin has one fine tuner, so I've been learning how to tune with pegs, which has been difficult because the D-peg slips like nobody's business. I called a local music store (not a luthier) to see what they would charge to replace the pegs, and they quoted me a basement price of about $150 PER PEG to replace them.

My partner is a tool and die maker with over 30 years of experience, and he figured that we could probably do the job ourselves.

We got a peg reamer, Anton Breton pegs, and a peg shaver cheap from Amazon. The reamer is decent for the price, but the peg shaver was a piece of junk. For Christmas, we made me a GOOD peg shaver out of Delrin and used the peg reamer to ream the holes in the shaver. We repurposed the blades from the junk shaver, flattened them, and sharpened them. All good, so far.

The problem I have now is that the D-peg hole was so far out of round that reaming it made the hole too big to fit even an unshaven peg. So now we need to put bushings in the D-peg hole, drill a new hole, and ream from scratch.

I've been lurking here for a while and created an account today so I could ask this question. I have searched the forum the best I know how, but I still haven't found the information I'm looking for.

What wood should I use to make the bushings out if, and what glue should I use to install them with? Should I drill the peg holes out to an untapered hole before installing bushings? We have a Woodcraft Supply fairly close, which is where I would get the hardwood dowel from.

I plan on drilling a pilot in the dowel I buy for the bushings (using the lathe) so I don't have to completely unstring the violin to drill the pegbox once the bushings are installed. I have more time than money, so I don't want to have to get the bridge and soundpost reset, and I lack the knowledge to do that properly myself. We'll cut the bushings to length to match the pegbox side thicknesses before we install them.

Should the bushings be varnished for any reason other than aesthetics?

My goal is to get the violin playable as inexpensively as possible so that I can get back to practicing. I will take photos of the violin later today and post them in a reply to this post.

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Regina3000
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4 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

It sounds like it would have been much cheaper to have had a proper violin maker fit a new set of pegs

Not really. I'm out about $75 for tools, scrapbinium for the shaver body, and labor, which is a project with my honey, so not a waste of time or effort. Plus I will have the satisfaction of a functional job done well, and time spent making something useful with my partner.

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I would buy, or rent, a new violin with a good set-up  from a reputable shop. That will get you up and playing immediately.

DIY (with an instrument) is complicated enough when one has some knowledge - but not the recommended way to go when one has no knowledge.

Later on, down the road, you can always revisit the possibility of repairing the violin you are discussing.

Think of it like this - you could probably get advice on-line on how to successfully remove a sliver from a family member's finger. But asking for advice on how to remove a brain tumour is an entirely different proposition.

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25 minutes ago, Rue said:

Think of it like this - you could probably get advice on-line on how to successfully remove a sliver from a family member's finger. But asking for advice on how to remove a brain tumour is an entirely different proposition.

Can't that be done by inserting a peg hole reamer through the ear?

OP, rather than bushing the peg hole with a dowel, search some threads here on spiral bushings. This is a procedure that a tool and die maker might be able to pull off successfully. I like Georges suggestion of using geared pegs though.

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41 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

...search some threads here on spiral bushings...

Here's the thread that got me started on maple spiral bushings:

Spiral Bushings - The Pegbox - Maestronet Forums

But I have to caution you that I probably bushed about a half dozen violins before I developed a procedure that works for me.  You could cut a few faux peg boxes from scrap maple to practice on.

For an installation mandrel I use a steel taper sold by Dictum which is simply a peg hole reamer blank without cutting edges.  Your partner can probably make one.

I found that when I tried to do both holes with a wide shaving, the shaving disintegrated.  So now I use narrower shavings and put one in the big hole then another in the small hole.  I glue them with Titebond 2.

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

I would buy, or rent, a new violin with a good set-up  from a reputable shop. That will get you up and playing immediately.

DIY (with an instrument) is complicated enough when one has some knowledge - but not the recommended way to go when one has no knowledge.

Later on, down the road, you can always revisit the possibility of repairing the violin you are discussing.

Think of it like this - you could probably get advice on-line on how to successfully remove a sliver from a family member's finger. But asking for advice on how to remove a brain tumour is an entirely different proposition.

I appreciate that having a working violin with a good set-up is a good idea. Other than replacing the pegs, this one already has a good set-up. And as mentioned before, I have more time than money. Money is tight, this year, and if we can do this ourselves, it would be good.

While acknowledging that violins are not like machined metal parts, if we can hold tight tolerances on machined metal parts, and have decent knowledge about how to make parts in general, I somehow think that we can manage putting a wooden bushing in a wooden hole, keeping the peg location where it started out. I just need to know what wood and glue to use.

Money is sufficiently tight that I had to think hard about spending the money on the tools I have already purchased, and was getting by with having to constantly fuss with the D peg. Since I have very little money to speak of, purchasing or renting a violin is out of the question for now.

Thank you, though, sincerely, for your advice.

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

OP, rather than bushing the peg hole with a dowel, search some threads here on spiral bushings. This is a procedure that a tool and die maker might be able to pull off successfully. I like Georges suggestion of using geared pegs though.

 

54 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Here's the thread that got me started on maple spiral bushings:

Spiral Bushings - The Pegbox - Maestronet Forums

But I have to caution you that I probably bushed about a half dozen violins before I developed a procedure that works for me.  You could cut a few faux peg boxes from scrap maple to practice on.

For an installation mandrel I use a steel taper sold by Dictum which is simply a peg hole reamer blank without cutting edges.  Your partner can probably make one.

I found that when I tried to do both holes with a wide shaving, the shaving disintegrated.  So now I use narrower shavings and put one in the big hole then another in the small hole.  I glue them with Titebond 2.

Thank you. I will consider this, but in my case, with the machinery I have at my disposal, and with my partner's machining knowledge, I think it might be less time and trouble for us to do it with the dowel. We have the ready ability to machine precision parts, and in fact regularly make parts that are on the order of the OD of the bushings we'd make, with holes in the middle. I think it would take less time, overall, to use a dowel. We wouldn't have to make a mandrel to roll the spirals if we use a dowel.

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This really is the funniest forum. :lol:

Usually, when someone asks about something that is DIY - they are told to take it to an expert.

Now...when it IS a job for an expert, MN is offering up DIY information...

:rolleyes:

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5 hours ago, Regina3000 said:

I appreciate that having a working violin with a good set-up is a good idea. Other than replacing the pegs, this one already has a good set-up. And as mentioned before, I have more time than money. Money is tight, this year, and if we can do this ourselves, it would be good.

While acknowledging that violins are not like machined metal parts, if we can hold tight tolerances on machined metal parts, and have decent knowledge about how to make parts in general, I somehow think that we can manage putting a wooden bushing in a wooden hole, keeping the peg location where it started out. I just need to know what wood and glue to use.

Money is sufficiently tight that I had to think hard about spending the money on the tools I have already purchased, and was getting by with having to constantly fuss with the D peg. Since I have very little money to speak of, purchasing or renting a violin is out of the question for now.

Thank you, though, sincerely, for your advice.

Good luck! I hope you are successful. Let us know how it goes! :)

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5 hours ago, Rue said:

This really is the funniest forum. :lol:

Usually, when someone asks about something that is DIY - they are told to take it to an expert.

Now...when it IS a job for an expert, MN is offering up DIY information...

:rolleyes:

The average newbs who wander in, lack the shop, skills, and experience to make their own tools, and seldom explain themselves so eloquently.

7 hours ago, Regina3000 said:

 

Thank you. I will consider this, but in my case, with the machinery I have at my disposal, and with my partner's machining knowledge, I think it might be less time and trouble for us to do it with the dowel. We have the ready ability to machine precision parts, and in fact regularly make parts that are on the order of the OD of the bushings we'd make, with holes in the middle. I think it would take less time, overall, to use a dowel. We wouldn't have to make a mandrel to roll the spirals if we use a dowel.

Welcome to MN!!  :)

My personal recommendation would be to follow spiral bushings with Wittner 8:1 planetary pegs.  Spiral bushings are actually stronger and more durable than solid wood bushings.  The Wittners are around $75 for a set, but are a permanent solution.

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On 12/26/2020 at 11:38 AM, Regina3000 said:

 

Thank you. I will consider this, but in my case, with the machinery I have at my disposal, and with my partner's machining knowledge, I think it might be less time and trouble for us to do it with the dowel. We have the ready ability to machine precision parts, and in fact regularly make parts that are on the order of the OD of the bushings we'd make, with holes in the middle. I think it would take less time, overall, to use a dowel. We wouldn't have to make a mandrel to roll the spirals if we use a dowel.

You could make one tapered dowel, (versus four to eight),  melt paraffin into it so glue won't stick, and use that as the mandrel for the spiral bushings. Or turn the mandrel out of something like Delrin or Teflon.

The big challenge with using dowels for the bushings will be trimming the end-grain ends flush with the pegbox walls. Your machinist training won't help you much with that.

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If you're set on using a dowel, boxwood and maple are commonly used.  Maple will probably be more readily available to you.  Common hardware store dowels are usually not maple.  If you can salvage a maple spindle from an old chair, it will probably be better seasoned than a hardware store dowel and cheaper, too.

You should keep the holes tapered to get the tightest fit of bushing to hole.  One way to do it is to fit and glue a single tapered dowel through the pegbox and both peg holes, but this leaves a lot of wood inside the pegbox that you need to dig out.  Instead, I was taught to install two separate small pieces, both from the outside.  This means you have to reverse the taper of the small hole.

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34 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said: I was taught to install two separate small pieces, both from the outside.  This means you have to reverse the taper of the small hole.

Yikes!  Why not just do them both from the head side of the peg?  Typically one removes less original wood this way and has the other hole to act as a guide for the reamer, which will very likely result in a cleaner set of holes into which the bushings fit.

 

To the OP, David Burgess is correct. the biggest challenge in doing this job for a machinist is trimming the bushings level to the surface.  It's harder than it seems.  That said, they don't have to be super flush to the surface, just have less sticking out on the inside of the pegbox than half the thickness of the string.  

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I'm totally with the people here suggesting geared pegs. I just bought 2 sets of knilling planetary pegs (1@9.mm for a viola pegbox, 1@8.5mm for a violin with really big pegbox holes) for 55$ a set. That's how I intend to solve my problems. But if you're intent on the bushing solution: I have a wood lathe because I sometimes make flutes and penny whistles and such. If you PM me with your contact info, I could try to turn you a bit of dowling from some nice granadillo wood  that would likely work.

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When I made my first violin I made a stupid mistake on one of the pegholes.  After research on MN I did a bushing with brown paper and Titebond. It worked fine and wasn't hard to do after a bit of easily reversible practice.It looks OK too, certainly good enough for a beater.

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16 hours ago, Rue said:

Good luck! I hope you are successful. Let us know how it goes! :)

Thank you! We got a maple dowel from Woodcraft Supply for under $3 and started the work yesterday. I was unable to post more replies until now because I'm new. I'll post photos when we're finished.

16 hours ago, Violadamore said:

The average newbs who wander in, lack the shop, skills, and experience to make their own tools, and seldom explain themselves so eloquently.

Welcome to MN!!  :)

My personal recommendation would be to follow spiral bushings with Wittner 8:1 planetary pegs.  Spiral bushings are actually stronger and more durable than solid wood bushings.  The Wittners are around $75 for a set, but are a permanent solution.

Thank you!

11 hours ago, Mat Roop said:

How about a violin peg with oversized shaft... Thick end untrimmed at the collar is 10mm and small end 8.6mm. Got them here...

https://counterpointmusic.ca

 Good luck! ... Mat

Ps...For larger holes I also use spiral bushings made of mulberry paper and glue with hot hide glue.

Thank you! I already have pegs, so I wanted to use the ones I have.

5 hours ago, Muswell said:

When I made my first violin I made a stupid mistake on one of the pegholes.  After research on MN I did a bushing with brown paper and Titebond. It worked fine and wasn't hard to do after a bit of easily reversible practice.It looks OK too, certainly good enough for a beater.

Thank you!

We will likely finish the job this afternoon, and then I will post photos not only of the repair, but also of the whole violin.

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