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Making a violin.
A journey into the unkown.
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (69 votes) 
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Retired
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October 23, 2021 - 11:19 am
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Hi,

Thanks Emily for your lovely reply; congratulations on you and Kevin being together for so long and long may it continue; I understand exactly what you say. Bron and I love the rabbit/kitty picture; we're animal lovers especially cats.

I've always fancied having a go with stained glass Emily but here in the UK put off by the high cost of everything and add to this I'm hopelessly colour blind; Bron and I once sat at the computer and ran a colour blind test involving 26 samples; Bron got them all correct I managed three; I don't want to be perfect anyway it would be so boring. I've not heard of Vellum or even touched Vellum for many years; so many old skills are dying out as are suppliers of materials needed. The last time I used lead cames was when I fully restored two very old coach lamps. I bet working with stained glass is very interesting indeed; I've still got the pair of pliars used for snapping glass.

I've been banging my head against a wall for the last three days but today I've finally knocked the wall over. How hugely frustrating to have the violin paper plans in my hands only to waste two days trying to locate a company which could simply put them through a copier; one company only a mile away can print to over 4' size without the slightest problem but only from a digital image not from a paper master; I've spent ages on the web and phoning around but at last it dawned on me to do as I usually do and do it the long hard way.

Thanks for your confidence in me Emily; yes I've got there in the end and on my terms without compromise  of any kind but I hadn't a clue what I was in for just for this simplest of jobs.

I tried using my favourite "emachinshop" free CAD but it refused to recognize the digital format of the saved file from my scanner/printer.

I've used Gimp for many years; Bron and I watched a YouTube Gimp tutorial to bring me up to date; my old Gimp was way out of date so now I've got the latest version entirely free and trustworthy.

https://www.gimp.org/

I've looked at so much on the web I even followed a steam to Adobe PDF; I used Adobe years ago and then it was free; this time there's a free trial so I followed the instructions only to end up having given personal details like email address to be asked for my bank details at which point I backed out; I dislike passing on my email and as expected I'm now fighting three lots of spam; it drives me mad just logging onto my regular sites having to jump through hoops like playing Captcha games with fire hydrants etc and having to enter email and password twice but this is what it's like these days full of frustration geared to slow everything down.

Going to bed last night I said to Bron I'll spend all day tomorrow and also as long as it takes in order to make a violin template. This morning immediately after breakfast I set up a small table next to my desk allowing full use of the scanner to be made; my scanner is an HP Scanjet 3800; I don't have instruction manuals and I've seldom used this scanner so start on another learning curve; then the printer I've used for over ten years it's an HPLaserjetP1100w mono printer; usually no problems and I've used this combination to copy and print only A4 documents.

I've sure been put through it today; I've bought an extra 500 sheet pack of A4 printer paper so with around 800 sheets in total and a full box of toner cartridges I wasn't going to run out of printing material.

The sheer frustration of printing page after page of copies either too large or too small; I checked the printer settings but there were few although at one point I did get rid of margins; I printed on all settings but after two and a half hours this morning I worked it out; I ended up cropping the scanner image in Gimp then scaling the remaining image now I was getting somewhere; I'd aligned the A2 original on the scanner as accurately as I could unable to use Gimp to nudge it round a bit; I used my engineers steel rule to measure the original drawing and used the measurements for scaling; at first they were now quite near so with slight adjustment to the measurements at last I now had the first bottom half bout printed to full size it being exact; next I did the same with the top bout and having cut these out and joined them I now had half the Stradivarius violin plan to use as a paper template.

I've just used the paper template and having attached it to sheet aluminium using self adhesive double sided tape I've cut the aluminium template very accurately to size; I used my home made 2" wide belt grinder fitted with a 60 grit belt bringing it quickly mostly to size finishing by hand filing using an half round engineers file; with the cut edges fettled I've now succeeded without the slightest damage to the original plans.

I could so easily have taken the quick route of using tracing paper or even carbon paper but I was determined to keep the original plans in perfect condition.

Violin-template_0001.JPGImage EnlargerI converted our entrance hall into a very comfortable small office years ago I even made the bespoke oak desk. I can usually use the scanner for A4 size but these A2 sheets are much larger hence I set up the additional table.

Violin-template_0002.JPGImage Enlarger

The scanner loaded with the original plan.Violin-template_0004.JPGImage Enlarger

Here's the perfect copies taped forming the half violin I wanted.

Violin-template_0005.JPGImage Enlarger

The waste paper pile kept increasing in size.

Violin-template_0006.JPGImage Enlarger

Testing for fit and it's perfect.

Violin-template_0007.JPGImage Enlarger

This is the new aluminium template flipped over it still has the paper pattern attached; I left the paper pattern on and I'll use this to drill location holes before discarding it.

Violin-template_0008.JPGImage Enlarger

This is virtually a quarter of the full sized violin after using Gimp and cropping then scaling. I'm too stupid to know when to quit but once I start something I'll not let go however long it takes.

I've now done what professional printer stores were unable to do all because they couldn't copy the original plans. I think the main violin body plans will be the hardest so the rest should be easy within the scope of a single scan to A4 size with Gimp scaling.

The last three days have been frustrating to say the least but I've learned so much and gained experience; I never begrudge spending time until I obtain exactly what I want; my engineering training didn't involve compromise of any kind.

Kind regards, Colin.

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ELCBK
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October 23, 2021 - 1:50 pm
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@Retired -

Are you using the aluminum as an actual guide for cutting?  I was thinking they usually make the templates from mylar so you can see through them - maybe for positioning over the best looking wood, etc... 

Btw, sorry to mislead you - I've only done a handful of 'stained glass' pieces.  I did more sandblasting than anything, but other forms of glass art, too.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/9e/e8/ef/9ee8ef5b4f4bff84abf5ea9c66456ee6.jpg

← I don't know who did this piece (I have no photos of my own work on my laptop), but it's a typical example of sandblast carving with some work on both sides of the glass.

You don't have to have good color vision to sandblast - just need to visualize in 3D, see contrast, practice/experiment a lot... and wear a Hazmat suit. (lol) 

- Emily

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stringy
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October 23, 2021 - 3:13 pm
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Looking good, cant wait for the build to start, very interesting. My friend is a luthier but he makes Irish type as well asu usual instruments like Hurdy gurdys, he made my Irish style bouzouki for me, beautiful instrument but I havent hadmuch time with it lately.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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October 24, 2021 - 6:34 am
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Hi,

Good question Emily thanks for asking; I've used aluminium for the template because I've got a good stock of sheet aluminium; I hadn't even considered using other sheet material but if it proves to be a problem I've got the aluminium template now to copy in any sheet material. I wanted to convert the paper template as quickly as possible to a hard copy since I spent around three days before actually succeeding making the paper template.

No problem at all Emily I jumped to conclusions regarding you working with stained glass. It's amazing isn't it what can be achieved using a sand blaster; sand blasting is also often used on wood to accentuate the grain. I agree good colour vison isn't needed for sand blasting I was thinking more of stained glass as used in churches which would be very difficult to me being so colour blind. A few years ago Bron bought me a soda blaster which I used with hard medium to blast cast iron parts from an engineering lathe I was restoring. Sorry I clicked on three stars for your post Emily should have been five; I must have suffered a senior moment. I bet you looked like a deep sea diver when kitted out for safety whilst sand blasting.

Thanks @stringy; pity I don't have a luthier friend nearby otherwise I'd be a real pest. I'm making steady progress but other more demanding jobs swallow up my time; I was in the workshop early this morning and have now roughed out the wooden mould (mold) I've used 18mm thick plywood which I can easily change if needed; it's much cooler in the workshop now winter is approaching so I'm trying to get as much done in the workshop to aid this violin build before the temperature really drops; I don't like being cold; the new studio though is easier to heat and has better lighting.

Violin-mould._0001.JPGImage Enlarger

The picture shows the ply mould I've just been working on; I used the bandsaw for roughing and also my home made 2" belt grinder with a 60G belt fitted; I've got the machinery and I'm using it's accuracy saving me lots of time; for the parts the belt grinder can't be used I might have a go with my router bench. I've used an 1/8" dia drill bit to drill holes in the aluminium template at key locations. I'm running just to stand still most days; retirement? Stradivarius didn't have all our modern problems to distract him.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Hi,

I've just knocked off for the day so here's an update.

I'd completed most of the new mould just the tricky parts to complete. Here's my quick accurate method.

Violin-mould._0001_01.JPGImage Enlarger

1/2" dia shank flush cutting router bit.

Violin-mould._0002.JPGImage Enlarger

Setting the bit in my home made but useful router table.Violin-mould._0003.JPGImage Enlarger

Attaching the aluminium template to the mould ensuring the template couldn't move whilst two 1/2" wood screws were driven in.

Violin-mould._0005.JPGImage Enlarger

Here's the set up and routing under way; once set up it was only a minutes job to cut the profile very accurately indeed; I've got the kit so I want to use it to save time. The cutter didn't cut to full thickness but no problem; just remove the template and turn the mould over; drop the bearing to engage the already routed profile and finish off. It took longer setting up and putting the router table away; if I do this again I'll rough cut on the bandsaw and not bother using the belt grinder I can use the router table instead; I'm learning as I go but I'm enjoying myself and it's nice to smell wood being machined again. Looking at the picture I needn't have bothered too much because some of the profile will be cut away but as I say I'm learning.

Next job is to prepare the mould further adding cutouts for the rib blocks and boring the large clamp holes.

Now for some quality time with Bron before another day disappears.

Kind regards, Colin.

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October 24, 2021 - 11:42 am
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Wonder what one made completely from aluminium would sound like, maybe its been done already but I have never heard or seen one, I know Kramer used to make part metal guitars.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Hi,

Thanks @stringy. I too wondered what an aluminium violin would sound like or even one made of sheet steel. I've not seen one done though.

I've recently sold my TIG welder; I used this for welding aluminium; another very difficult learning curve.

Workshop_0008.JPGImage Enlarger

An expensive bit of kit; the TIG welder I've just sold so I won't be tempted to make an aluminium violin; I might have been tempted though.

Metal-spinning._0006.JPGImage Enlarger

Here's a mower petrol tank being made so making an aluminium violin wouldn't be much more difficult; what an idea though; how about a chrome steel violin?

Time now to get off my backside and down to the workshop to complete the wooden mould; I was out of bed by 6 o'clock this morning and had done the shopping by 7:30; just not enough hours in retirement. I'm fully fuelled with tea so ready to rock and roll. cool_gif

Kind regards, Colin.

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Mark
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Alcoa made aluminum basses back in the 1950s or some where around that time frame, not heard of aluminum violins but here it a titanium one.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Hi,

Thanks Mark for sharing the interesting video; a violin made of titanium won't suffer from woodworm.

I've made my first big step forward this morning having finally succeeded in completing the violin wooden mould. I've given it a coat of rattle can clear lacquer.

I'll now have a look at the rest of the Strad paper plans to see if I need to copy them also I need to take time to read the Strad book which will take a while.

Violin-mould._0001_02.JPGImage Enlarger

Using the big drill press with a 1" Forstner bit to drill the holes. I set the travel screw on the drill head allowing just the point of the bit to break through then I flipped the mould over to neatly complete the holes leaving clean edges.Violin-mould._0003_01.JPGImage Enlarger

Success at last; I should have easily completed this but for the lengthy problems getting the paper template made; I'm enjoying this project because I'm learning so much; it's supposed to be a winter project but now it's moving forward.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Jim Dunleavy
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October 25, 2021 - 7:23 am
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Looking good! thumbs-up

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Hi,

Thanks @Jim Dunleavy; slow but steady progress.

Having made the new full size wooden mould I thought I was off to a good start until I overlaid the mould onto the master drawing only to find it didn't fit perfectly; the mould is too large and I'm now correcting it. It took a while finding the root cause of the problem but it's the aluminium template; this is perfect regarding outer shape and length but I've found overall width to be 0.8mm too wide at the top and 1.6mm too wide at the bottom so now I have the answer I can remove the excess at the straightedge which should then transfer to the wooden mould bringing the mould to specification.

I'll also adjust the Gimp drawing accordingly. I'm not only attempting to make a violin but I'm going to spend time making it to specification; innacuracy tends to grow if left uncorrected; I'm used to working to very fine tolerances with metal and I'm well aware working with wood is totally different because of the nature of wood which expands and contracts a lot more due to temperature than metal does.

This project isn't just making the violin it's a test of my abilities to do the very best I can without compromise. The thickness of even pencil lines can throw sizes out so it's a case of double checking everything is correct before moving on. One very important lesson I learned as an apprentice whilst measuring hole centers along an RSJ was to only measure from the starting point not measure between holes because it's surprising how the slightest error quickly multiplies; this is extremely true when the holes have been drilled and the RSJ is down a deep coal mine being erected; guess how I found out; the bruises cleared many years ago.

Time now for a mug of tea then I'll correct the aluminium tempplate but once corrected I'll then make a full sized paper card template to overlay on the master drawing; better late than never.

I'm in awe of the old time masters like Stadivarius working in more primitive times without even electricity; I've struggled this morning having to use a torch in order to see up close what I was measuring and I had the ceiling lamp switched on.

Violin-mould._0001_03.JPGImage Enlarger

I've got unlimited patience and I'm not under any pressure so I'm going to settle right back and really enjoy this project. The lighting in the picture looks pretty good but please see the shadow at the bottom of the aluminium template hence the use of the small torch. I don't want to keep moving these original drawings around much for fear of damaging them and space is tight.

The 18mm thick plywood I'm using was expensive enough being a good grade but I've noticed it's starting to delaminate; the old fashioned good quality where people took pride in what they did is long gone.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Hi,

First part now successfully completed. I adjusted the aluminium template with the aid of bright sunlight through the window allowing me to see clearly inaccuracies.

Yesterday I intended to set the home made router bench up once again and trim the plywood mould to the template but I diverted. I made the router table years ago and in order to switch power on and off I secured the router switch to be fully on then I've been controlling it from the 13A power supply switch which has always been a nuisance so I decided to sort this out once and for all.

I always have a good selection of switches and pulled out a 3 phase 415V on/off rotary switch and spent time installing it bringing me up to dinner time. After dinner Bron and I enjoyed a 25 mile round trip in the car enjoying our local countryside. Back on the job at 3pm I decided I didn't like the rotary switch regarding it's mounting and also having to protect it from dust and debris so removed it and replaced it with a 13A single switched metal clad socket and 13A plug to the router cable. Now it was tea time; after tea I enjoyed my now regular violin practice so another day slipped quickly by.

This morning I was in the workshop early and have just knocked off for a mug of tea. I'm now pleased with the router table switching but I also need to sort out decent height adjustment at the moment it's hit and miss so another job for today but I've just been using the router and now have the plywood mould but also decided to make a full sized MDF master mould whilst the router was set up.

104_3289.JPGImage Enlarger

The rotary switch I decided I didn't like.

104_3290.JPGImage Enlarger

The inside picture of the rotary switch; it worked fine but I wasn't happy with it so it had to go.

104_3291.JPGImage Enlarger

This socket and plug is much better.

104_3292.JPGImage Enlarger

Our modern plywood is rubbish even the more expensive boards; I mentioned previously it had started to delaminate and here the router has picked up on it; I can still use the mould but but it's annoying.

104_3294.JPGImage Enlarger

The plywood mould and the new full size master in 18mm thick MDF.

104_3295.JPGImage Enlarger

Both plywood and MDF fit perfectly when overlaid on the original paper drawing so although I've taken a lot of time and patience I've not compromised; the original paper drawing remains undamaged in any way; I've now got digital drawings and also the ply mould and the master; it's been well worth going to all the extra trouble now I can move on but I'm a long way off assembly; I've been looking through the Strad book and I need knives and clamps etc; full sized plans are included for everything I'll need but it's going to take time which pleases me; I don't want to complete this project quickly it's a winter project. I'm adding as much information as I can  as to what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. So far so good now on to the next problem.

Kind regards, Colin.

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October 28, 2021 - 6:16 am
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Looking great, I am convinced you will do a great job, must admit I had my doubts when you said about your project but you certainly have destroyed them really enjoying your posts and can't wait to see the finished article, have you thought about vanishing, colour  etc.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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stringy said
must admit I had my doubts when you said about your project 

Colin is clearly a very experienced engineer and thus completely fearless!

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
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October 28, 2021 - 12:23 pm
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I'm enjoying following your endeavor. We have 4 guys here at Fiddlershop that are making violins. One of them is Andres Bilva, and three of his are for sale as well.

https://fiddlershop.com/produc.....iolin-2021

Keep up the great work. It's obvious that you are a guy who does his research and can use his tools. 😁

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Enjoying reading about your progress updates Colin.. Ive no clue about the process of violin making so its interesting reading.  Thanks for the updates.  

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Gordon Shumway said

stringy said

must admit I had my doubts when you said about your project 

Colin is clearly a very experienced engineer and thus completely fearless!

  

Couldnt agree more.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Hi,

How kind you all are I feel truly humbled by your replies thank you.

Thanks @stringy; I'm a long way off finishing but years ago I read the best finish for a violin is Shellac; I can French polish (shellac) having restored many vintage radio cabinets but I'll look into this more deeply when the time comes;  also years ago I made an 8' long sideboard and having researched best finish I applied thinned coats of polyurethane varnish; I've also used polyurethane varnish on lots of furniture both free standing and built in; this polyurethane varnish tends to have a bad name because novices apply it like treacle and the finish looks like a toffee apple but as I say I'm a long way from finishing; I'm struggling with starting the way my life is running but I'll win in the end.

Thanks Andrew; I'm unsure if I'm fearless perhaps just don't know when to quit once I start something but I'm an old fashioned mechanical engineer taught to use my head and hands by highly skilled professionals who were true engineers and not simply fitters; if I was cheeky and called them fitters I was beaten up for my error; enough to hurt but not injure; their favourite punishment was to dunk me head first into the 45 gallon water butt at the side of the forge; I owe these so much.

Thanks @Fiddlerman I'm pleased my ramblings are of interest and hopefully will end up with a nice violin. WOW what a lovely violin at the link you kindly added; something for me to aspire to; it's certainly inspirational. Yes I'll be sticking with this project and already am solving problems thrown my way but it's how I learn so much; this morning isn't going too well so I've backed off to let it pass; pointless getting down when things don't work out so I'm relaxing spending a bit of time on the forum after a mug of tea I'll take Bron out for some well deserved retail therapy the world can go mad around me but I'll keep smiling. If I don't know I'll find out rather than jumping in only to mess up; making a violin will be very interesting for me and I won't be working to extremely fine tolerances as I do in many of my projects an example below.

Wave-winder-gears-1.jpgImage Enlarger

I fully restored a vintage AVO Wave Winder used to wind things like radio tuning coils; a complicated bit of kit and it was scrap when I bought it; here's the box I made finished with french polish and I also made the brass nameplate.

Wave-winder-gears-2.jpgImage Enlarger

The wave winder came to me missing machine parts and it didn't have a single gear; research showed the full set consisted of 45 cast iron gears; I don't want to go off topic but this was an incredibly hard and very long project; I made all 45 gears on my engineering lathe with just very basic tooling I even dreampt up a brand new way of indexing because I don't have an expensive indexing head for my lathe; I was very honoured indeed to be awarded best restoration in 2009 for this wave winder restoration.

I don't think making a violin will be just another interesting challenge and new hobby for the coming winter but I also would like to learn to play a violin thinking this hobby will remain with me unlike other projects I quickly bore of once completed.

Thanks @ABitRusty I too haven't much idea regarding making a violin so I'm learning as I go; I've already learned a great deal and I'm sure by the time I finish making the violin I'll know a lot more. If only I could get out of bed each day without having to sort a problem out; life sure is fun.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Hi,

After yesterday's hassles I'm back on track this morning and have already enjoyed half an hours violin practice whilst also taking images of one of the A2 pages violin plans these covering tools I'll be needing so I'm happy to expand on this a bit.

I was taught blacksmithing way back in the sixties so hardening and tempering steel I'm familiar with but I wish I had access to a blacksmiths forge and tooling but I'll see how I get on with the kit I do have; making the knives I don't see a problem at all but heating the blades to cherry red could be challenging; I'll sort it out when I reach that point. I could buy knives but I like to make things from scratch and at first considered using gauge plate for the blades;

https://www.coventry-grinders......uge-plate/

Gauge plate is readily available here in the UK but isn't cheap so I've bought new engineers files these hopefully arriving next Tuesday; once they do arrive I'll compare sizes against the master drawings; Ideally I'd like to visit Rufforth Auto Jumble near York next Saturday morning where I can buy aerospace quality files and other tooling at much reduced prices but our weather is now on the turn as winter approaches so fingers crossed the files once they arrive will be suitable. I'm well used to this kind of work but for novices here's another method and possibly cheapest of all; use flat springs from a car suspension for example but don't try to cut these using a hacksaw use an angle grinder roughing to size then the new blank will need heating to cherry red and allowed to cool down slowly; now the steel will be annealed making it easier to work with and to drill. I'll possibly have problems heating the steel to cherry red so here's a third cheap and easy option.

The problem with this is it's so easy to overheat and destroy the hardness with either flat spring steel or files so a lot of time will be involved to do the job correctly; if heating to cherry red isn't a problem then hardening and tempering can be done when the new kife is fully shaped before fitting the handle.

Violin-plans_0001.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-plans_0002.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-plans_0003.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-plans_0004.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-plans_0005.JPGImage Enlarger

These are camera copies showing the tools I intend to make following the book instructions; I'm at the moment picking out things I'll be needing rather than concentrating on actually making the violin; I enjoy these detours which always add a lot of pleasure to any of my projects and I end up with cheap tooling I can then use on other projects. I'm spending time today catching up with emails but I want to keep this thread up to date as much as possible covering each step in a lot of detail in my usual rambling style.

Kind regards, Colin.

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October 30, 2021 - 7:08 am
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5

Cool, Colin ! That's the way to do it.  Great to have a "basic, reliable, toolset" - with which, the doors are largely open to develop your own, more specialist items from that!  Nice.

I am reminded of the Nevil Shute novel "Trustee from the Toolroom" which I read back in the mid 60's.  I've really forgotten most of the book's content (well, the more I think about it, the more comes back LOL) but the one sentence that sticks with me (and you probably know what it is ) - is "An engineer is someone who can do for 5 bob, which any bloody fool can do for a quid"  [ If not exact, my recall must be pretty close - it has stuck with me since then !!!! ]   My old man was an engineer in REME in WW2, and although he never read the book, his approach to doing things fits that description perfectly - I learned a lot from him !

Oh - I had better quit rambling-on.   The "rambling" ( which it is NOT really, it is important detail, oft missed by many! ) you self-accuse yourself of, is, trust me, appreciated !!!!

All the best with the project !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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