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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) 

December 5, 2021 - 10:29 am
Member Since: September 27, 2021
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A quick update. I've just enjoyed a session in the workshop; the four knife blades now have handles fitted and shaped just needing finishing and sharpening. Today's problem is my Makita 18V battery now refuses to charge; these problems never leave me alone but at least I've been in the workshop today; WHOOPEE.

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In order to get the pin holes in exact position I drilled the first hole through one half of the wooden handle then added a pin before drilling the second hole; I did this with all eight half handles. The pins are 1/8" dia brazing rod I had to hand cut at 1" lengths using an hacksaw.

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The four knives just needing finishing (linseed oil) and sharpening but most of the work is now completed.

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I used my home made 4" belt sander to bring the handles to shape; it worked a treat. This is a job where dust protection is a must.

Kind regards, Colin.

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December 5, 2021 - 12:01 pm
Member Since: August 23, 2020
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Retired said

Thanks for asking stringy. It's actually a very narrow chisel and is used to remove the waste from between the purfling scribed lines. Here's a full description;

I'm still making the tools I'll need so I'm still a long way away from doing purfling but I've done similar work on vintage valve radio cabinets; here it's called stringing.

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I made my own stringing by laminating veneers of contrasting colour. I made a jig and cutting tool as shown to cut the strings accurately to width.

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A TV cabinet side set up for routing the stringing groove; this was a nervous job.

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I'd already veneered using Sapele Pommele for the inner panel and striped Sepele for the cross banding; one slip adding the grooves would have been rather distressing.

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Having made the stringing I needed a correct sized router cutter so I made my own cutter and tested it for fit before doing cutting the stringing groove; it worked very well indeed. The cutter I made from high speed steel it resembling a "D" bit.

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Stringing added ready for finishing. Hot hide glue used throughout this restoration.

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It was a long project but I got there in the end as I'll do in making this violin. The finish is french polish (Shellac). It's a 1957 Valve TV/radio I also fully restored the chassis and it still works.

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For the tight curves I decided to make a pair of formers and having just glued up the veneers I quickly inserted them into the former and used clamps to tightly secure everything; when the clamps were removed I had perfectly shaped strings.

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The formers were accurately made of softwood.

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Having glued the stringing in position it looked incredibly rough as I used a cabinet scraper to bring the stringing flush.

I hope the violin turns out as well as this cabinet then I'll be pleased but it's going to be a long interesting project. I've just come out of the workshop having glued the handles to the four knife blades. It's unpleasant due to being so cold but I can't control the weather; I switched on the fan heater though because I dislike being cold.

Kind regards, Colin.


That is some really beautiful work, all I can say is wow

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


December 11, 2021 - 9:26 am
Member Since: September 27, 2021
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Thanks @stringy much appreciated.

I've not posted here for a while because I've done very little in the workshop due to terrible weather with two recent heavy storms coming through the first leaving a million without power further north; we lost email and TV too for almost a day due to Virgin Media suffering an "Outage" today is still cold; wet; dark and miserable but tomorrow is forecast milder so I'll get into the gardens to do some tidying before the temperature plummets again.

Having spent so much time making the knives and purfling tool I've just bought four knives suggested in the Strad book these being cobblers knives so I think I'm now covered for knives but I believe more tools are still to be made which I'll make weather permitting.

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These shoe makers knives (cobblers knives) are robust and can be ground to shape required but taking care whilst grinding not to overheat and draw the temper; thay are cheap enough so won't stress a bank account too much.

Normally I'd ignore this winter weather and just wrap up well but I confess to finding it increasingly difficult to get motivated; I'm fed up of getting wet and feeling cold just to reach the workshop then once inside it takes the fan heater a while to make any impact; cold hands and cold tools aren't a pleasure but I'm still keen to resume work once the outside temperature hits double figures in degrees C. It's now 2:25pm and getting dark also rain is coming again. In the meantime I keep wandering into the studio to do a bit of violin practice and I'm constantly browsing the web and YouTube regarding anything related to violins; I think I'm addicted to violins.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Fort Lauderdale
December 29, 2021 - 1:45 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Retired said 
.......Thanks Fiddlerman; I've actually bought a good selection of brand new files for making the knives from but being a mechanical engineer I thought I'd also try using "Gauge plate" which these knives are now made of; this gauge plate is the correct material for tools etc but as explained I've no problem hardening but have lots of problems tempering; I've been giving this some thought and if I try using gauge plate again I could simply cut out rectangular knife blanks then heat treat the blanks before shaping into knife blades but then I'd need to be carefull not to overheat the metal and draw the temper but doing this would give the mass allowing slower cooling? my biggest problem is getting into the workshop and being able to work in comfort; a huge storm swept through a few nights ago leaving well over a million homes without power even tonight on TV it's said there are still over 20K homes without power and the army has been called in to assist; fortunately for us we didn't suffer any such damage but the weather is all over the place; one day it's -5.5C the next day it's 10C; last Monday morning I had great difficulty getting into the car at 7am it was frozen solid; I'm not complaining but explaining difficulties. Today I wanted to wander down to the workshop but the TV died on us again and it's cost me over 8 hours to get just partial service on; I've tried phoning Virgin Media but I think I've more chance of contacting the dead by joining hands; problems never leave me alone to do as I want to do.

It definitely sounds like you know what you are doing. Thanks for all the interesting posts and images.


stringy said

Fiddlerman said

That is very interesting about hardening your own knives.

Some of our luthiers (we have 8) make their own knives out of very hard metal. For example, one guy likes to pick up files at flea markets and make his knives out of those. Not sure if anyone actually heats the blade to harden them. I know we buy expensive knives for them from Dictum Tools.

They spend a good deal of time sharpening their knives as well.

So did jack the ripper.

ROFL, however, we shouldn't joke about him....☹️

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


December 30, 2021 - 1:40 pm
Member Since: September 27, 2021
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Thanks Fiddlerman; at the moment work on making a violin has been suspended due to our dire climate so I'm spending more time practicing playing my violin; I'm practicing twice daily for about half an hour each time but I'm finding my left arm is becoming more used to the strange demands placed upon it so when I first started practicing my arm hurt after only a few minutes but now just aches a bit after 30 minutes; I'm not pushing myself just taking it easy exploring the magical world of violins.

I want to enjoy making a violin not feel it's a punishment so I might hang back until springtime; I've already got the wood from Poland and am gathering tools so by springtime I should be able to get on with the project; I think making a violin will be considerably quicker than learning to play a violin but I'm more than happy with progress so far. I've a lot to learn but I'm sticking with it.

Kind regards, Colin.

Greater Chicagoland

June 18, 2022 - 10:26 pm
Member Since: April 16, 2021
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Don't know if you've seen this, but I just posted a video in the Making a Violin subforum. Start to finish in 35 minutes, hand tools only except for drilling holes for pegs.

The old curmudgeon!

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