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Strads not symmetrical


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4 minutes ago, David Beard said:

Also, consider that our modern impulse to attach the neck while on the form is an impulse to control things.

We do not have good cause to suspect the old masters shared that impulse, quite the opposite.   Instead, their methods provide an up coming moment to 'adjust in reaponse'.   That is of course the moment when the sides are pinned and twist aligned on the plate board to etch their dispositon, and only then work a final plate outline design.

Right! I could certainly wait until the form is out to even glue my necks on, but I've settled on this mostly because it's easier to safely clamp my garland in my front vise with the support of the form, holding it while the glue dries (I don't clamp the neck on when gluing, just a good, flat joint and gravity). Truly, doing necks this way has taken what was once the most nerve wracking part of making for me, and one I'd procrastinate on, to a doddle. Then when the screw is in, I do what pivoting is required, if any, on the pins and finalize my outlines. I love it when things become easy. 

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On 9/19/2022 at 6:44 AM, Davide Sora said:

Why? To me they seem more than appropriate tools for drilling wood. Certainly very inconvenient to use for pre-drill holes in the block if you have the back already glued, but with the free ribs they seem perfectly adequate.

sorry for the delay....well that was one of them, I just don't see using these "awl" style reams with the back already on. And then because of the taper I wonder the depth to which they were pre drilling the holes...the "tips" almost seem as if they are made to just go in the depth of the tip, as in drilling the hole for the pins on the plate, yet could easily be driven deeper.

I guess the real question I have is how deep were the predrilling into the neck itself after going through the block?

It just seems like a task that could easily be "blown" and then cause some serious "oh shi*'s"

So was it that they had killer nails that were super sharp and would not split the neck wood when driven in the last bit, or were they super accurate with their depths, and thus diameters of their holes.

Obviously unless it's "just right" it could end up making the nail not snug the joint down

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25 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

So was it that they had killer nails that were super sharp and would not split the neck wood when driven in the last bit,

Not questioning your expertise, but carpenters blunt there nails so as not to split wood, so why would it be different for this task?

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38 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

sorry for the delay....well that was one of them, I just don't see using these "awl" style reams with the back already on. And then because of the taper I wonder the depth to which they were pre drilling the holes...the "tips" almost seem as if they are made to just go in the depth of the tip, as in drilling the hole for the pins on the plate, yet could easily be driven deeper.

I guess the real question I have is how deep were the predrilling into the neck itself after going through the block?

It just seems like a task that could easily be "blown" and then cause some serious "oh shi*'s"

So was it that they had killer nails that were super sharp and would not split the neck wood when driven in the last bit, or were they super accurate with their depths, and thus diameters of their holes.

Obviously unless it's "just right" it could end up making the nail not snug the joint down

Interesting questions, Jez. I'd definitely like to know the process they were using, if for no other reason that pure curiosity! 

I think you're right, that regardless of the approach, insufficient prep could cause some ugly headaches!! I use three bits for the pilot hole - first, one that is appropriate to the shank of the screw in width and depth. I set the depth with a piece of tape on the bit shaft and drill until the tape just barely touches the block surface. Now I know it's deep enough for the screw but not too deep (though I did eyeball it once and did in fact drill out the other side, the heel surface itself. Making a special plug for that hole was fun). Second bit is slightly larger, for the un-cut section of screw shaft just below the heat, about 1/4 in long. Again I mark the bit with tape. Last is a countersink, and that one I am just eyeballing.

Of course if I was using a nice, forged square section nail, probably a single bit would be fine, marked with a bit of string/wire to show you when to stop boring. They do make silicon bronze nails in my favored alloy, but I figure the screws should be easier to take out should a future colleague need to work on the neck. 

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1 hour ago, jezzupe said:

sorry for the delay....well that was one of them, I just don't see using these "awl" style reams with the back already on. And then because of the taper I wonder the depth to which they were pre drilling the holes...the "tips" almost seem as if they are made to just go in the depth of the tip, as in drilling the hole for the pins on the plate, yet could easily be driven deeper.

I guess the real question I have is how deep were the predrilling into the neck itself after going through the block?

It just seems like a task that could easily be "blown" and then cause some serious "oh shi*'s"

So was it that they had killer nails that were super sharp and would not split the neck wood when driven in the last bit, or were they super accurate with their depths, and thus diameters of their holes.

Obviously unless it's "just right" it could end up making the nail not snug the joint down

I am with you that these gimlets would be difficult to use with the back attached to the ribs, in fact I believe they fixed the neck before gluing the back, and if these were the tools they used to pre-drill the holes it would support this theory. Then, for the technical problems related to driving the nails, I would not be able to give you precise answers because I have never tried to drive a nail into a block to fix the neck. For these things, direct practice is always fundamental and enlightening, so to get an answer I refer to other people who have done it.:)

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50 minutes ago, Delabo said:

Not questioning your expertise, but carpenters blunt there nails so as not to split wood, so why would it be different for this task?

I think this is a very good and seriously advanced question that really gets into "what species" what metal compound, what shape or design and what is the application.

I think many if not most times a blunt nail is less prone to split, yet there are certain times, I can't name them, as they have been "abstract" when super sharp yet thin nails have been better for the task.

Again I have lots of questions, that don't really matter in the scheme of things, I guess that I just find it "strange" that this method was the "go to" way to attach the neck, and that mortice, tenon, dovetails and all the locking joints must have been known from other "trades" "crafts" "construction projects" as well as what glue can and can not do.

And in all this nailing on necks stuff was it that the nails were really just acting as clamps for the glue, and percentage wise "who" was pulling the most weight so to speak in the operation, was the glue doing more "holding" or was the nail? I just guess it's strange to me that these guys were so skilled, particularly with the tools they had and used, and then when it came to this one thing, it just seems so "wrong" to me, as if they design a really cool sports car and then decided to put peel and stick head lamps on with wires running from the battery as if it were an after thought.

again I don't think most of us are nailing on necks so its more of an exercise in imagination and wtf were they thinking kind of thing to me more than anything else....or things that make you go hmm'

does anyone have a pic of a "period" nail/tack that came from a Strad or like instrument ?

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22 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

I am with you that these gimlets would be difficult to use with the back attached to the ribs, in fact I believe they fixed the neck before gluing the back, and if these were the tools they used to pre-drill the holes it would support this theory. Then, for the technical problems related to driving the nails, I would not be able to give you precise answers because I have never tried to drive a nail into a block to fix the neck. For these things, direct practice is always fundamental and enlightening, so to get an answer I refer to other people who have done it.:)

I really feel it shoots down the "did it with the back on" thing too.

And that's it for me too, I have done similar applications of nailing "persnickety" things together but never really nailed on a neck, so I can only imagine from my previous applications of how it would be done...and no matter how many times I run it through my head I just don't see it working very well.

I have a feeling bread and butter would have been gluing necks back on , maybe that's it, built in failure for financial reasons:lol:

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Again, the old process provides different solutions to the difficulties that lead modern makers to favor attaching the neck after the sides and back are attached.   With the old processes there is no reason to avoid attaching the neck to sides before presenting their assembly to the back.

Horizontal/twist allignment is adjustable thanks to the pinning system.   And, elevation is adjustable at a much later time thanks to the wedge fingerboard system.

There was no reason not to attach the neck immediately after removing the sides from the mould.

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9 minutes ago, David Beard said:

Again, the old process provides different solutions to the difficulties that lead modern makers to favor attaching the neck after the sides and back are attached.   With the old processes there is no reason to avoid attaching the neck to sides before presenting their assembly to the back.

Horizontal/twist allignment is adjustable thanks to the pinning system.   And, elevation is adjustable at a much later time thanks to the wedge fingerboard system.

There was no reason not to attach the neck immediately after removing the sides from the mould.

Right. Having done nailed/screwed necks and modern necks in equal measure over the years, they both make sense to me and do the job they're intended to do. One isn't an improvement over the other, they are both just... Fine. They accomplish what they are intended to. No need to overthink it.

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Hello, I have only nailed one neck on, when I made my lute, so I hope you don't mind me joining in this discussion,

With nailed necks, I am inclined to think that the glue is doing the main job of holding the joint, the nail of course adds some reinforcement but to me its main purpose seems to be to act as a clamp when gluing up an awkward shape, especially if the neck heel was nearly fully shaped? The nails would allow this awkward clamping job to be done in a simple - no jigs or special clamps needed - quick and traditional way.

I think that it would be bit difficult to get the neck to fit nicely to the both top rib surface and the button of the back during a speedy gluing and nailing operation so it makes sense to me that it would have been done before the back was fitted. When I glued my lute neck I applied the glue then hammered the nail home. I then had a few of seconds to finely adjust the neck with a few gentle taps of the hammer, as it had rotated a bit out of line during the 'operation'.

I would think also that the hole would be predrilled carefully until the nail only needed tapping home the last few mm, firm enough to hold the joint while the glue dried and add a little strength. If the hole wasnt predrilled carefully I suspect that a nail, or several nails could easily split a small short object like a neck heel especially in relatively hard and not spongy wood like maple? 

I wonder if the sharp spikey tipped nature of the nails could be used to advantage, maybe the pre drilling could be done not quite to full depth so the thinnest -least likely to cause splitting - last few mm of the nail could have a really good hold on the wood? When I nailed my neck I used the actual nail to ream the predrilled hole to its final depth and shape but if I did a lot of neck nailing I would think I would soon acquire a square sectioned awl/nail hole reamer of a similar shape and size to my nails of choice.

 

 

 

 

 

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I do think there is quite a lot of skill needed to use nails well.

This has nothing to do with violin making but In his book "Mechanick Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-Works" first published around 1680, Joseph Moxon writes (pages 124-5)

"There is required a pretty skill in driving a Nail " he goes on to say " A little trick is sometimes used among some (that would be thought cunning Carpenters) privately to touch the Head of the Nail with a little Ear-wax, and then lay a Wager with a stranger to the Trick, that he shall not drive that Nail up to the Head with so many blows. The stranger thinks he shall assuredly win, but does assuredly lose; for the Hammer no sooner touches the Head of the Nail, but instead of entring the Wood it flies away, notwithstanding his utmost care in striking it down-right."

I have heard about a violin maker in the past being found guilty of the murder of another maker, I wonder if perhaps someone who thought of himself as a 'cunning' luthier was caught in the act of applying some earwax to the heads of another maker's carefully straightened neck nails and was then dealt a fatal blow with the hammer?

 

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I'm not entirely sure what we're discussing or why anymore, given that we know what kinds of nails (square) were used and what they looked like (CT scans). People were and are nailing necks for hundreds of years. There is nothing left to discover. So get out there and nail, screw, or mortise your necks on instead of flapping your jaws! Let's make some fiddles and money!

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11 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

I'm not entirely sure what we're discussing or why anymore, given that we know what kinds of nails (square) were used and what they looked like (CT scans). People were and are nailing necks for hundreds of years. There is nothing left to discover. So get out there and nail, screw, or mortise your necks on instead of flapping your jaws! Let's make some fiddles and money!

:)

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7 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Haha, sorry I was feeling feisty last night. Of course we should continue to discuss it as needed. 

However, how much do we need to back track.

Discussion of historical nailing should probably presume nailing and attaching neck to sides before presenting either to the back.

 

This means there is no difficulty fitting the neck to both sides and back, because that just didn't happen.  The neck was fitted to the sides alone.  And with no precise concern for allignmemt.

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11 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Haha, sorry I was feeling feisty last night. Of course we should continue to discuss it as needed. 

However, how much do we need to back track.

Discussion of historical nailing should probably presume nailing and attaching neck to sides before presenting either to the back.

 

This means there is no difficulty fitting the neck to both sides and back, because that just didn't happen.  The neck was fitted to the sides alone.  And with no precise concern for allignmemt.

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1 hour ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Haha, sorry I was feeling feisty last night. Of course we should continue to discuss it as needed. 

Maybe I should have put this smiley;), because I agreed with your comment. discussing these small details without direct experience soon becomes a bit too "academic".

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13 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

Maybe I should have put this smiley;), because I agreed with your comment. discussing these small details without direct experience soon becomes a bit too "academic".

Ah, yes!! Absolutely I agree. I don't mean to denigrate such academic discussions, but for those like us who come at this from a more practical concern of making a living, it can become uninteresting.

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