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Truly accurate F hole templates.


Nick Allen

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Hello all,

So I've been messing around with making F hole templates. And I can't really reconcile the various methods for a convincing result. 

It all started when I realized that my F holes wanted to slant inwards by quite a bit of I laid the eyes out appropriately first. Weird. I checked the Strad posters that I was copying, and thought that it all checked out, all was well. Next fiddle, same problem. Dafuq? 

Then I started to think of topography, and quickly realized that copying f hole templates from photographs is useless unless you morph them in Photoshop. It turns out that they are essentially a projection onto the arch from the point of view of the camera capture and the observer of the subsequent print. Damn. 

Then, I thought I'd get cheeky and do some rubbings of historic examples. Problem is, there's no easy way of getting a really clear and reliable reference for use in real making because the substrate can't really confirm to the arching, especially on Fs that are heavily sunken or deformed in the regional arching. Plus, often you only capture the "rim" or "crown of the Fs perimeter, especially on heavily worn examples with rounded edges. 

I'm thinking my best bet is to make just a stem template that I can flex between the two holes that are laid out first? 

Anyone else use just a stem template?

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2 hours ago, SCorrea said:

This is a common problem when trying to wrap your head about orthographic projection.  I am real new at building Violins but I can see real value in actually laying them out by hand the first time and creating a template after completing the F holes for the second unit......

It was hard to understand why my Fs had to slant in so much initially. Then it donned on me that I'm trying to affix what is essentially a projection onto a curve, while the real thing is actually much wider and splayed than my copied template. 

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Depends what you are trying to do. 

I personally hate (f-hole) templates because no matter how ‘good’ they are, the final result is always a madder of the coordination between hands and eyes. Often I just sketch an f hole on the top, start cutting and at a certain point I erase any remaining pencil lines because they disturb me. Even on a copy I find it more challenging to find the spirit of the original cutting rather than trying to get a photocopy-like image. This also means that I erase  in my inner eye things from the original which feel like later damage. 

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12 hours ago, Nick Allen said:

Anyone else use just a stem template?

I do, but not the internal ones like Stradivari did, they are too delicate, I use the stem part of a normal external acetate template. By placing and cutting the eyes first, the problem of distortions is easily overcome, because even in a photo they maintain the correct position. In modern violin making the tracing of the stem will only serve as a guide, the main work is done by eye, cutting away all the tracing marks. Maybe this doesn't apply to copyists, but that's their problem, not mine.;):D

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20 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

I do, but not the internal ones like Stradivari did, they are too delicate, I use the stem part of a normal external acetate template. By placing and cutting the eyes first, the problem of distortions is easily overcome, because even in a photo they maintain the correct position. In modern violin making the tracing of the stem will only serve as a guide, the main work is done by eye, cutting away all the tracing marks. Maybe this doesn't apply to copyists, but that's their problem, not mine.;):D

You're right. I should just probably suck it up and make a template to serve as a guide and do the real work with just my eye. I ultimately do that, but it's nice to have something that is really close to what you want to start out with, which is almost never the case in violin making in my experience. 

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1 hour ago, Christopher Jacoby said:

Phil Ihle and Gianmaria Steltzer had a whole projection system going. 

And David Gusset has a nifty cutting-slits-in-mylar-acetate for the tracing/rubbing that translates to an accurate layout. I asked him to write about it for The Scroll years ago, but he declined.

So what you're telling me, is to grab a forstner bit, a box cutter, a 12 pack of Schlitz and have at it?

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37 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Depends what you are trying to do. 

I personally hate (f-hole) templates because no matter how ‘good’ they are, the final result is always a madder of the coordination between hands and eyes. Often I just sketch an f hole on the top, start cutting and at a certain point I erase any remaining pencil lines because they disturb me. Even on a copy I find it more challenging to find the spirit of the original cutting rather than trying to get a photocopy-like image. This also means that I erase  in my inner eye things from the original which feel like later damage. 

I'm aiming to make copies, ultimately in the future. I like the freehand approach, though. 

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4 hours ago, Nick Allen said:

I'm aiming to make copies, ultimately in the future. I like the freehand approach, though. 

From my experience, a successful copy has more to do with artistic skills than photo-copying a picture. It has imo also much to do with the understanding how the originals were made. Making copies was for me a process to abandon most of what I had learned in violin making school with the positive side effect that all of a sudden I loved to do things I hated before.

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1 hour ago, Deo Lawson said:

I would suggest using the template as a guide and freehand adjusting the final shape according to your eye. After all, the most important part is how it looks on the instrument, not on the drawing.

If I may agree with you. I don’t see any need for a super accurate fhole template, rather I just cut it out to my template, and THEN the “Fhole cutting" begins

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

If I may agree with you. I don’t see any need for a super accurate fhole template, rather I just cut it out to my template, and THEN the “Fhole cutting" begins

Yeah. I think I should rely on my grit and guile in the end. To just lean on my mad knife skillz, ya know. 

But is there a preferred method by copyists? Or jus the classic whatever works for you?

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7 hours ago, DonLeister said:

This is something I find helpful

IMG_0164.png

Clever system, I like the idea of the magnets, do you put one inside too to keep everything in place? I thought something similar too, but then I also thought that, to be picky, if your arch is not exactly the same as the one you took the template from, there will still be some distortions. The same goes for the old slide projector system.

But well, I admit that it might be excessive fussiness.:P

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Yes, there’s a magnet on the underside that’s holds things in place. 
That can come in handy if you need to hold the plate vertically in order to gain some distance between the light source and the plate, like if you need to put the light across the room. The more distance you get from the light the less distortion you will encounter as the shadow is thrown onto the plate.  I have a high enough ceiling to where I can get about 8 feet of distance above my bench so I can draw it while the plate is horizontal on the bench.

I expect my arches won’t exactly match the original instrument so there is that variable. This way of doing it is just another tool to have available that is not too hard to make. It is helpful to laminate your f template so it will stay flat.

Where I often have difficulty is where the stem falls and its width, especially in highly arched instruments, anything helps!

 

 

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