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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 (76 votes) 
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Irv
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October 30, 2021 - 6:11 pm
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Another violin making technique to investigate.  I plan on making some fractional violins using infused epoxy with silk and flax cloth.  The method will be similar as described in the following video.

My mold will be constructed using a modified Chinese violin.

Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal. —Earl Nightingale.

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Hi,

How kind of you @BillyG Thanks for your continuing encouragement and support; I do ramble on but I'm a member of a number of forums and the first forum I joined and still am a member of were so strict the moderators behaved like traffic wardens on speed even jumping on spelling mistakes and grammar errors; wander off topic in the least and it was slapped legs.

Your father sounds as if he received similar training to my training; if it's broken and a spare isn't available then make the part from scratch but these days most engineers are simply fitters unable to make parts. My late father was in the RAF during WW2 working at AVRO on Lancaster Bomber final assembly whilst my late mother worked in munitions.

There's so much money around these days there's little encouragement to make anything oneself; I wonder how many even cook a proper meal only relying on fast food outlets. Before I retired I was subjected to an intensive Kaizen course the theme of this course was why supply a Rolls Royce when a mini will do and I'm sure this reasoning is why we now have such shoddy goods.

Many thanks for adding the very interesting video @Irv good luck if you decide to go ahead using this technique I can assure you you'll enjoy it but it's highly messy and poses a fire risk.

Way back in the early seventies I was employed as a glass fiber laminator on high production making things from rainwater gutters up to huge roof sections for nuclear power stations; we worked in pairs we would apply release agent to the mould then the gel resin coat then we'd lay on the first layer of mat; we used 5 gallon plastic fuel containers with the front cut out and fill these with lay up resin and add catalizer; I used a 15" wide roller to apply the resin my chum would follow up with the metal roller consolidating the resin and mat to remove air bubbles; we worked at a frantic pace especially during summer when the gel and resin started to rapidly set up. I ended up with dermatitis to my hands so had to leave the job; please be aware of health risks glass fiber work is very interesting but can cause long term serious health problems and it's also high fire risk; acetone can self ignite if you just gnash your teeth it's dangerous stuff to be around. I didn't expect to find glass fiber associated with stringed instruments so it's of special interest to me.

I don't wish to drift too far off topic but during my working life I've endured lots of hardship and worked in lots of hostile environments like starting working life down a deep coal mine at the age of 15 also I've worked for years in huge mills this one of them;

https://www.yfanefa.com/record/414

My best friend Ken lost his life having been pulled into a huge carding machine; another friend Barry was beheaded in a road accident on his motorcycle riding home from this mill; good and bad memories but this is life.

Enough of this nostalgia; outside as I type it's pouring with rain; very dark and gloomy making me want to remain indoors so I can now spend a bit of time adding to this project.

I've already posted camera images of the knives shown on the original paper templates but I wanted working templates without causing damage to the originals so I've been busy once again scanning and printing.

I've used "Gimp" for many years and it's a totally free highly reliable download for image editing;

https://www.gimp.org/

Gimp-image-1.JPGImage EnlargerGimp-image-2.JPGImage EnlargerGimp-image-3.JPGGimp-image-4.JPGGimp-image-5.JPGViolin-knives_0001.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-knives_0003.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-knives_0005.JPGImage Enlarger

 

These are the four knives I'll be making and although adhering to accurate sizes isn't critical I'll still work to very close tolerances hence going to all the time and trouble in order to produce these paper templates.

The actual sizes using Gimp scaling having used "rectangular select" then "crop to selected" are;

from left to right;

All in mm.

Curved point W 23.03 x H 125.00

Short point W 22.01 x H 127.97

Medium point W 23.03 x H 124.97

Long point W 24.05 x H 163.24

Having carried out adjustments these are the finished sizes and when cut out each printed template fits perfectly when laid over the original drawing. Using the camera images isn't accurate enough hence I'm doing it the hard way by scanning and image editing which takes lots of time but I want to do the best I can without compromising in any way.

Anyone interested enough to have a go at copying these knives may I suggest using "Snipping Tool" to copy the individual tool shapes then copy to "Pictures" or "Documents" Gimp can then access them and once on Gimp the sizes can be checked and adjusted; all it needs is the actual shape on Gimp to play around with.

Gimp is very easy indeed to use and I can highly recommend it.

I laid a couple of new files over the original drawings to check they were large enough; a long journey now ahead of me.

Enough for now I think I'll wander into the studio and enjoy a practice session on the violins.

Kind regards, Colin.

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October 31, 2021 - 12:15 pm
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Hi,

I've just enjoyed a session in the workshop. The new files I bought to make the four knives from just aren't big enough but they're OK for some of the other tools I'll need to make.

It's taken well over half an hour using the angle grinder to remove all the teeth from a used 10" file whilst ensuring I didn't overheat the metal drawing the hardness; this is unnaceptable so another plan of attack is clearly needed. I'll make the files easier to work by annealing them which softens the metal then later I'll re-harden before tempering; I can do this but I need to have a look at what I've got to hand that will heat the files to cherry red allowing annealing.

Just another set back but this is what life is about and problems are there to be solved; they just slow me down but won't ever stop me.

Knife-file_0003.JPGImage Enlarger

 

The end of the file starting to heat up even though I was so careful so I'll stop trying to save re-hardening and tempering in order to move the job on more quickly.

File-2.JPGImage Enlarger

 

The paper templates laid on the file testing for fit; these two smaller knives can be made from one 10" file; I'll buy other files as needed but use this file because I already have it.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Irv
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October 31, 2021 - 12:21 pm
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Hi @Retired et al.  You are about to make a decision of seemingly biblical nature.  Titebond or hide glue?

Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal. —Earl Nightingale.

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ELCBK
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October 31, 2021 - 2:16 pm
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@Irv -

But Titebond makes an easy, ready-to-use Liquid Hide Glue - what's wrong with that? 

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d4/c6/28/d4c628e64168de3e18e2f663a50b998c.jpg

 

Happy Halloween! 

- Emily

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Irv
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October 31, 2021 - 2:37 pm
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@ELCBK and others.  About the only thing that stuff is used for is the application of the label.

Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal. —Earl Nightingale.

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ELCBK
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October 31, 2021 - 3:28 pm
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@Irv -

Thanks - I had my suspicions! 

Thought I'd read someone had used it, but from what I just read at maestronet, sounds like it isn't even good for the label. (lol) 

 

@Retired -

Better stick with traditional Hide glue! 

Here's the overwhelmingly negative views on Titebond Liquid Hide Glue. 

Opinions on This Glue (Titebond) - maestronet

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October 31, 2021 - 3:49 pm
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Hi,

Thanks @Irv & Emily, I've used lots of types of glue/adhesive over the years but for me on a project like this violin or the vintage radio cabinets I've restored the only glue I use is hot hide glue; it's the tried and tested traditional glue which has been thoroughly tested for hundreds of years; hot hide glue though isn't easy to work with it gelling very quickly but if applied correctly it can't be beaten; here's a quote;

"Since the 16th century, hide glue has been used in the construction of violins.[6]"

It's unlikely I'll be around in 600 years time to compare modern glue like Titebond against hot hide glue. I do use Titebond but not on vintage or antique woodwork like this;

Clock-repair._0001.JPGImage EnlargerClock-repair._0002.JPGImage EnlargerClock-repair._0003.JPGImage EnlargerClock-repair._0004.JPGImage Enlarger

This is an antique clock I fully restored; the original veneer was so bad I had to replace the lot as well as do structual repairs; I used hot hide glue throughout and finished with hand rubbed french polish; I think Titebond is regarded as a permanent glue and can't be reversed unlike hide glue; I do the jobs the hard way after making all the mistakes possible to make but I win in the end making it all worth while; Titebond is very tempting to use because it has a decent open time allowing for adjustments and is so convenient straight out of the container but I'll never be tempted enough to use it on anything of age; I've never touched a stringed instrument until about a month ago so gluing up a violin should be fun.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Mark
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November 1, 2021 - 12:30 am
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Titebond one or the original as it's called can be taken apart just like hot hide glue, where titebond 2 and Titebond 3 especially is water proof.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Hi,

Thanks for the Titebond link Emily; I'd no intention whatsoever of using Titebond during my violin project; hot hide glue is definitely the glue to use; I've still got a tin of hot hide glue pearls given to me by my late uncle about 50 years ago and I bet I can still use it; I've recently bought 1kg of new hot hide glue pearls which I'll use on this project.

At the link you kindly posted Titebond is disliked a great deal so having read the comments who would go ahead and use Titebond on any stringed instrument but no doubt as always people look for the easiest option not wanting to learn how to do a job correctly.

Thanks for the information Mark; I'm unfamiliar with different grades of Titebond; the grade I use is classed as waterproof and I use it for gluing door joints etc.

Evo-Stik.JPGImage Enlarger

 

I only changed to using Titebond for my joinery work a couple of years ago having previously used EVO-STIK as seen; two reasons; I found assembling the joints using EVO the glue tended to grab and I was forever fed up of the EVO plastic bottle; I'm not strong enough to squeeze the bottle and on say a full sized house door I ran out of strength trying to quickly glue all the joints; I ended up decanting the EVO into clean washing up plastic bottles; Titebond lets the joints slide together and the bottle is a bit easier to squeeze; I'm a ten stone weakling built like a stick insect.

Hot hide glue isn't easy to prepare or even use; it takes effort to get everything just right but at least if things go wrong the joint can be seperated again; speed of gluing is very important. I've had my cast iron double glue pot for heating hot hide glue for many years; the last time I used it must be ten years ago whilst veneering.

I'm pleased the thread is attracting so many interesting replies; thanks everyone.

The weather here in Yorkshire (UK) has quickly turned wintery; lots of rain driven by high wind and the temperature is dropping whilst the energy prices are rapidly rising; I'd done the supermarket shopping and back home by 7:30 this morning; it's very windy with lots of rain.

I really wanted to get out in the car to visit our local scrap yard located high on top of the very exposed moor at Crosland Moor today but not in this dire weather; I'm not as silly these days as I used to be when over ten years ago at this scrap yard I was climbing a huge pile of scrap electric motors having spotted a very large (75kg) transformer which I struggled to pull out and roll to the ground; it was snowing and the ground was covered with ice it bitterly cold in the icy blast but two of us lifted the transformer into my car and I was glad to return home.

Having spent so much time just grinding away the teeth on the file yesterday I thought I'd make life a little easier and visit the scrap yard in hope of collecting a leaf spring this then would be used to make the knife blades; I'm getting soft and have already got wet once today. It's Rufforth Auto Jumble again this coming Saturday; perhaps I could find a leaf string there but also in the middle of the huge hanger is usually a guy taking three stalls selling top quality files and drill bits but I wonder how bad the weather will be and it involves driving along unlit narrow country lanes in the dark; is it worth it.

I want to follow the book details as closely as possible but I think I'm beating myself up for very little; I could buy a leaf spring or even old files but the money saved would be at the cost of no end of hassle and hardship; I'll have a look on eBay to check out "gauge plate" I can easily afford it but wanted to keep costs down for other members who don't have the funds to simply buy new. This isn't going to be a quick project and I've been watching YouTube videos on heating steel at home such as this as an example;

I've got a Mapp gas torch and a dozen fire bricks so kit isn't a problem and I was taught blacksmithing over 55 years ago; I'll need to heat the steel whether files or spring steel to cherry red in order to anneal it so it looks like I'll be setting up the torch and fire bricks; the weather though is so bad I don't feel like doing much at all at the moment but I'll need to get off my backside if I'm going to make progress with this project; our winters drag on forever and we've just lost an hours daylight in the afternoon due to changing the clocks; I'm well and truly up against it but I've been here many times so I'm not moaning or complaining I just need to get on with it.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Hi,

A quick update. I've just got wet wandering down to the workshop to measure the thickness of the file I intended to use for the knives; 3.8mm; I've abandoned this thinking these files are too thick and will give me no end of work in grinding to make them thin enough. I measured an eating knife as in knife and fork the thickest top part is only 1.6mm thick.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/323.....SwizRc3BvZ

Sometimes trying to save money simply costs more in the end; I could have wasted no end of time chasing around to buy old leaf springs or files costing fuel for the car plus lots of time so back to basics; I've just bought through eBay a length of gauge plate measuring 3/32" x 2 1/2" x 18" at £24 delivered. It's possible I can make six knife blades from this one piece so really it works out cheapest and saves time and effort; 3/32" is 2.38 mm so will be plenty thick enough; the downside is having to wait for it to arrive but I can carry on with other work in the meantime. Another problem solved.

Kind regards, Colin.

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November 2, 2021 - 12:23 pm
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Hi,

Yesterday afternoon the rain decided to quit for a short while so I wandered down to the workshop and made a start on the violin clamps; 40 are needed as instructed. 40 clamps mean 80 wooden bobbins of 1" dia x 1" long; I save offcuts of wood and found a 56" length of Meranti hardwood which was perfect so I cut it in half and then turned each to 1" dia in my Union Graduate lathe; long and thin this takes quite a bit of turning unless I wanted to lose teeth or wear the wood if it was ejected from the lathe; one of the pieces had two holes in it the small hole I could ignore but daren't turn at the larger hole unless I wanted to invite trouble. The Graduate lathe I bought from an academy it being virtually scrap so I fully rebuilt and heavily modified it; I can now also do metal spinning on the Graduate.

To cut the newly turned dowels to 1" lengths I used my fully restored Wilmac bandsaw. Now I had 43 wooden bobbins so half way there.

I then pulled out a woodturning blank again this was meranti; it measured 2 1/2" square x 16" long; I ripped this into quarters on my home made circular saw bench then after tidying up called it a day.

This morning was taken with Covid booster jab; the jab was rapid but the journey in the car both ways was highly frustrating; 4 miles each way and 25 minutes each way; all the aaprentices were out digging holes in the roads. This brought me up to dinner time.

I've just knocked off and now have a total of 97 wooden bobbins these now requiring holes which will be next job. Having ripped the wood I may as well make extra bobbins. 120" of wood was used in total; it's possible I could have bought wooden brush handles and cut these to 1" lengths; I have the machines and offcuts so I enjoyed playing with my toys. I used a spanner as a turning gauge having gently removed and rounded over the sharp ends; the spanner was 1" so was perfect.

I take safety very seriously so fully protect myself if using machinery; I always wear shoes with steel toe caps in case I drop something heavy.

Being a mechanical engineer I enjoy buying scrap machinery of the old fashioned cast iron kind which I easily fully restore ending up with top quality machines which will  last another lifetime for scrap prices.

Kind regards, Colin.

97-bobbins_0001.JPGImage EnlargerReady-for-action_0001.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-clamps_0004.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-clamps_0005.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-clamps_0007.JPGImage EnlargerViolin-clamps_0008.JPGImage Enlarger

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ELCBK
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@Retired , @Irv , @Mark -

A little late, but I found the article I remember reading from "The English Woodworker" - about Liquid Hide Glue vs. Old Brown Glue vs. PVA glue, etc... 

Great little bit of info for general woodworking here that might be of interest to everyone. 

Liquid Hide Glue Advantages. Why It's The Best Wood Glue For Joints.

...not recommending for violin making.

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Hi,

Thanks Emily for the interesting link; how strange that I'm English and have never heard of The English Woodworker so I learn something new every day.

Ready to use out of a plastic bottle like Titebond 5013 liquid hide glue isn't traditional hide glue it being only an alternative; genuine hide glue has to be carefully heated hence called hot hide glue and this is the proper glue to use.

It was interesting in the video where it was mentioned nicely fitting wood joints needed a sledge hammer to put together if modern wood glue is used and I fully agree with this.

I've enjoyed a session in the workshop this morning more associated with mechanical engineering than violin making but it's related to this project. I'm still working on the violin clamps which are taking quite a bit of time but I'm at home with this kind of work and enjoying myself.

Having turned the wooden bobbins I then looked at the 4" long bolts I intended to use but unfortunately they were much too large in diameter so looked around to see what I had to hand I could use instead.

I've had lots of 6mm dia long rods for over twenty years these threaded at each end and are from scrap electric motors; four were used on each motor to secure the end covers to the frame; I knew they'd be useful one day. Each rod was long enough to give two lengths at just over 4" to allow for the extra nut; the drawing shows 5/16" dia stove bolts being used but as these aren't going to be exposed to a great deal of stress I think 6mm dia will be OK; only enough pressure will be needed to nip the violin plates to the ribs.

Having cut the rods to length then it meant threading the cut end of each; I started off hand threading using a die wrench but this was going to take forever with over 40 ends to thread; I tried using my Lorch engineering lathe but the VFD powering the lathe stalled due to the low speed high torque required; not to be beaten I then set up my big industrial drill press this having a back gear allowing revs as low as 60 rpm which proved ideal. I simply laid the die wrench on the vice and gently nipped it and now I was threading quickly.

With the rods now threaded I decided to remove the paint from each which proved time consuming and tedious but at least the bobbins would slide better on shiny metal than on paint. I've just completed removing the paint so the rods are now ready to use; all the rods have cost me are time and a bit of electricity for the machines; I love this kind of work especially as I'm not under any pressure.

I've had to knock off because we're out this afternoon taking care of another day; possibly tomorrow I'll manage to drill the holes through the bobbins and to keep as near as possible to originals I'll have a look at leather washers.

Violin_0003.JPGImage Enlarger

The drawing specifies 1" diameter bobbins and I think I'm near enough as shown.

Violin_0004.JPGImage Enlarger

Using die wrench by hand proved too time consuming; I enjoy working with my hands but I'm not nostalgic about it and will use machinery if it will speed the job up; I'd already used the hacksaw to cut the rods to length involving over forty cuts.

Violin_0005.JPGImage Enlarger

Here are the rods being cut to length.

Violin_0006.JPGImage Enlarger

Using the drill press to speed up threading; it worked a treat and saved no end of time and effort.

Violin_0009.JPGImage Enlarger

The rods nicely polished using the lathe with abrasive paper; there are still plenty of spare full length rods if needed. Many of these old skills are dying out as we dinosaurs die and take the skills with us; it's sad these days youngsters prefer a mobile phone than get their hands dirty; obviously not all youngsters but certainly a lot of them; I have friends who can do this kind of work but they live a good distance away; our neighbours wouldn't have a clue where to start on a project such as this.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Hi,

Here's the master drawing of the violin clamps I'm making.

Kind regards, Colin.

Violin-plans_0003.JPGImage Enlarger

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Gordon Shumway
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I haven't understood what you've been saying about hide glues. I suppose you must have researched, but all I know is that you put the back on using a stronger glue and the front using a weaker glue, as it may need removing for repairs or adjustments.

Andrew

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Peter
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Retired said
...The rods nicely polished using the lathe with abrasive paper; there are still plenty of spare full length rods if needed. Many of these old skills are dying out as we dinosaurs die and take the skills with us; it's sad these days youngsters prefer a mobile phone than get their hands dirty; obviously not all youngsters but certainly a lot of them...

It's the way of things; all skills pass, and not always for the same reasons. It's true of flint-napping, coopering, trug-making and so on through to such things as selecting germanium transistors for guitar pedal making. We can only pass on what we do and know in whatever form we can: books, videos, artefacts and whatever the future holds for information storage.

Traditional mechanical engineering is enshrined (horrible word, really...) in books; the IMechE library is somewhere I have spent shamefully little time (there's lots available online for members). I have a small but treasured personal collection, and these will pass to my youngest son. Whether or not he appreciates the bequest is his business but I have hope.

The skills are a different matter. There is much you cannot learn from a book (try learning Tai Chi, for example), and the personal master / apprentice relationship is thin on the ground these days; the instructional methods are not as they were in my day. We therefore hope that the third element, experience, will serve future craftsfolk well.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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Hi,

I'm sorry if I've been somewhat confusing regarding hot hide glue Peter; I've not researched at all; I was introduced to hot hide glue when I started woodworking classes at the secondary modern school I attended from the age of 11 this 63 years ago so I give hot hide glue little thought it just being so natural to me to use; there's lots of information online; it's also often called Scotch Glue. I detested woodwork classes all the four years at this school and learned little regarding woodwork; I even failed woodworking exams but now many years later I enjoy all aspects of woodworking but then I no longer have a bully teacher intimidating me; this bully threatened the class the first time we had the misfortune to set eyes on him; he introduced us to three assorted straps made of conveyor belting and he liked to use them.

I hadn't even thought of using two strengths of hot hide glue when I eventually start to glue up; hot hide glue can be reversed whatever its strength so I'll be using the same full strength for all the violin; I wouldn't knowingly weaken a glue joint expecting it to be taken apart at a later date; perhaps I'm wrong having never attempted to make a violin but I want to do my best.

Thanks Peter; I can't see where the UK is supposed to be heading; schools; sorry academies no longer teach the old fashioned ways I suppose due to the ever stricter health and safety regulations; shudder the thought of little Tommy nicking himself with a wood chisel or playing conkers in the play ground without wearing a suit of armour. When I was a kid; we climbed trees and if we fell out of a tree we learned to bounce; we carried huge sheaf knives carving our names into tree trunks and there were never any stabbings not a single one so what has changed since so long ago.

Bron and I like to watch YouTube tutorials  and today came across American crafting mostly related to Christmas but we were interested when these crafters kept mentioning "Dollar Tree" so I had a look and wish we had similar stores nearby to us in the UK and with such a low price. We have Hobbycraft but it's a 50 mile round journey and we aren't too keen of the store always finding it expensive.

I wonder how many in a home workshop here in the UK actually make a violin or indeed any other musical instrument; how many have a home workshop. So many places I used to visit have closed; only recently we've visited three local places where Bron used to buy crafting materials but all three have suddenly reduced their crafting section so now it's a case of buying online.

I'm struggling to buy things I need for this project; I couldn't even get the A2 master violin plans copied and printed having to do this myself involving many hours of hassle; one way or another I'll do my best to make a violin however long it takes; if no one else was interested in my efforts I'd still carry on because it's something I want to do.

Kind regards, Colin.

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This is an Olaf video worth watching, but it's in the twoset list

Andrew

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Colin,

Olaf's repairs reminded me that the open-time of a hide glue joint is short, and when I overhauled my own violin I made sure the room was stinking hot before I put the table back on; I had a portable convector heater directly under the bench and let the room soak until it was quite uncomfortable. Everything was set up and laid out: tools, spool-clamps, violin parts, glue-pot running at set-point, dire warnings to the family members. I'd rehearsed the gluing operation and only when confident did I commit; it was quite an exciting day, and the preparation paid off. The violin sounds lovely, and with care I shouldn't have to open it again in my lifetime. Here it is with it's electric friend (home-made).IMG_20210612_100900264.jpgImage Enlarger

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"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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