Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 43

DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3670702,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 1: BLOCKS AND SHAPING FORM
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-201 -- More Projects

Welcome to "Violin Making 101" -- literally. This episode of DIY's Handmade Music introduces viewers to the students
and faculty at the Chicago School of Violin Making. It's an introduction to the very first steps of building a violin.

This first episode in the five-part violin series focuses on the first steps of building a violin. The rib structure is the
foundation of a violin, and Chicago School co-director Becky Elliott demonstrates the step-by-step process of creating a
rib structure for a beautiful violin.

The first phase in building a


violin is the creation of the
curved "c-curve" at the violin's
waist.

For nearly five hundred years, violin-makers have passed trade secrets to apprentices who develop their skills over many
years of study. The Chicago School of Violin Making revels in that tradition, and it demands from its students more than
three years of dedicated study. This is one of the few schools in America where students can learn the art and the
profession of violin making. Very few "high-tech" improvements are offered in these classrooms. That means students
benefit from the same techniques and secrets passed from Antonio Stradivarius. The school's directors Fred Thompson
and Becky Elliott tell us that violin-building breaks down into a few basic steps:

First, a rib structure is built.

Next, a top plate and a back plate are crafted.

Then the plates are joined to the ribs to create a body.

A carved neck, scroll and fret-board are joined to the body.

Finally, varnish is applied before set-up. From there, the instrument is ready to play.

According to Becky Elliott, the main attribute needed to be a violin-maker is patience: "Patience with yourself
and with your work. If you can deal with that," she says, "then you'll learn and get the skills you need."

Building the Rib Structure

Violin building is about working in stages and building on each stage. Today's stage and goal is to complete the rib structure. The rib structure requires a
foundation. The foundation is a series of blocks glued to a temporary form (figures A and B). Becky's first lesson demonstrates how to create four spruce
corner blocks and two end blocks.

1 of 4 09/09/2006 7:03 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Figure A Figure B

First-year student Miles Mibeck uses a butter knife to cut the blocks, but the cuts are quite precise. The goal is to see the grain pattern run up and down the
spruce block. The best technique for splitting is to keep the blade even and parallel with the surface of the stock ( figure C). First, Miles breaks-off the four
corner-blocks and the two end-blocks. When all six blocks are cut, they're still fairly raw (figure D).

Figure C Figure D

The blocks are then refined a bit after Becky planes them. Each block requires tight ninety-degree angles, and each block
should be about an inch and a half thick (figure E). It's necessary to create a gluing surface on all six blocks so each one
can be attached to a form.

Figure E

Forms (figure F)are just templates used to hold the blocks temporarily in place. Different violin styles require different forms. Makers who develop a unique
violin use a unique form. The forms used here at the Chicago School of Violin Making are patterned after the greatest violins ever made. Students have the
option of building violins like those of made by masters such as Stradivari (figure G) or Guarneri.

Figure F Figure G

After they're planed the blocks are temporarily glued to the chosen form (figures H and I). It's important to note that the form is not actually part of the violin.
Its only purpose is to hold the blocks in position until the ribs are added. Then the form's usefulness will have run its course and be removed.

Figure H Figure I

When the blocks are dry and holding firmly to the form , Becky uses a template to scribe the violins shape onto the blocks
(figure J).

The violin's beauty and elegance will be defined by the c-curve or c-bout. That's where the corner blocks hold the ribs in

2 of 4 09/09/2006 7:03 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

place at the waist. When the ribs are glued into place the blocks must be shaped perfectly.

Becky's next Challenge after marking the corner blocks is to carve away the excess spruce and shape the block precisely to make way for the ribs (figures K
and L). This work is slow and methodical. Careful cuts are required because the fix for going to far is to take the block from the form and start all over.

Figure K Figure L

In the segment that follows, Becky demonstrates how thin maple strips are bent to form the c-curve using steam and a hot iron.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 1: Blocks and Shaping Form

3 of 4 09/09/2006 7:03 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Handmade Violin, Part 2: Bending the C-Ribs


Handmade Violin, Part 3: Completing the Rib Structure
Handmade Violin, Part 4: Rib Linings

4 of 4 09/09/2006 7:03 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3674107,00.html

1 of 3 09/09/2006 7:04 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 2: BENDING THE C-RIBS


From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-201 -- More Projects

This episode of DIY's Handmade Music introduces viewers to the students and faculty at the Chicago School of Violin
Making where students learn to play -- and build -- stringed instruments patterned after classics by masters like Stradivari
and Guarneri.

The students at the school build dozens of instruments each year, and this five-part DIY series gives viewers the
opportunity to watch the evolution of just one.

In this second segment the school's co-director, and violin-building expert, Becky Elliott demonstrates the technique for
bending wood strips to form the curved "waist" of the violin.

A student at Chicago's School


of Violin Making.

The first stage of building a violin is to create a rib structure. In the previous segment, Becky Elliott and her students
completed the foundation when they glued and shaped six spruce blocks to a temporary form (figure A).

Figure A

Now the rib structure begins to take shape with the addition of six thin strips of maple (figure B). The ribs are bent to match the form's shape, and
glued to the blocks.

Student Juan Tamparillas prepares the ribs for bending. The strips are a half-inch wide -- the final width of the violin -- but the walls must be 1.2
millimeters thick. Juan thins the maple first with a plane and then with a cabinet scraper (figure C).

Figure B Figure C

From there, the school's co-director, and expert violin-maker Becky Elliott takes over to bend the C-Ribs using a
specially designed hot-iron.

To bend straight strips into the curved ribs, Becky works on one curve at a time. She dips the wood strip in
water, then applies parchment paper to one side. The parchment layer helps prolong the steam time. Then, using
a flexible metal bending-strip, she carefully works the strip around the iron. As she feels the wood "relax," she
skillfully manipulates the strip around the hot iron to create the curve (figures D and E).

After the initial bending, Becky checks the strip against the curve of the form. In some cases she must go back Figure D
for additional bending and adjusting the shape

2 of 3 09/09/2006 7:04 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

The firm but delicate touch and artisan's instinct required for this technique gives indication as to why it takes
three years to graduate from the Chicago School of Violin Making. This is just one of several skills that is
mastered only through time and experience.

After bending six ribs, Becky will be ready to glue them to the form using shaped clamping blocks (figure F).

Figure F

In the segment that follows, Becky finishes the rib structure to complete the first
stage of the violin building. Later the ribs are augmented with specially shaped wood
linings.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making Jeff Wilson, host of Handmade


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall Music, tries his hand at bending
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998) strips of maple to create the
ISBN: 0709058764 C-curve of the violin body.
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 1: Blocks and Shaping Form
Handmade Violin, Part 2: Bending the C-Ribs
Handmade Violin, Part 3: Completing the Rib Structure
Handmade Violin, Part 4: Rib Linings

3 of 3 09/09/2006 7:04 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3674109,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 3: COMPLETING THE RIB STRUCTURE
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-201 -- More Projects

In this episode of DIY's Handmade Music, viewers witness the first steps in the creation of a violin from scratch. Those
initial steps consist of building the ribs -- or the sides.

In the previous segment, the rib structure began to take shape with the bending of six thin strips of maple to match the
curves of the violin form. Now violin-maker Becky Elliott prepares to complete the rib structure.

The top plate of the violin is


made from fine-grain spruce,
specially selected for its tonal
qualities.

The final step of that critical stage is gluing the ribs to the blocks. Thus far, violin-maker Becky Elliott has glued two of the six strips (figure A). She has also
trimmed the upper and lower curves of the blocks -- including the c-rib (figure B). She's now ready now to complete the step.

Figure A Figure B

Now, Becky applies the hide glue to both the ribs and the blocks.

She then positions the ribs in their respective locations. This is a two person job. The clamping should be done while the maker holds the ribs to the
blocks with both hands (figure C).

Placement of the hide-glue is critical (figure D). It only contacts the ribs to the blocks -- never to the form. The form is not actually part of the violin,
and it will be removed later.

Figure C Figure D

A curved caul is used to prevent the clamps from damaging the spruce ribs.

The two remaining ribs are glued and clamped to the form (figure E).

1 of 3 09/09/2006 7:06 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

After drying overnight, Becky checks the structure on a flat surface to determine how much adjustment will be Figure E
necessary to make it level (figure F).

She will need to flatten the ribs and blocks on both sides using a plane. She must plane carefully (figure G) since wood can be removed from the thin
ribs much more quickly than the solid blocks. She planes in only one direction to minimized the possibility of breaking off a corner.

Figure F Figure G

Any high points detected by the marble slab are planed away until both surfaces are level (figure H).

Figure H

The first stage of violin-making is nearly complete. We've seen how the rib structure is built. The next stage readies the ribs for the top and back plates. In the
segment that follows, the ribs are enhanced with wood linings to prepare them for addition of the plates.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251

2 of 3 09/09/2006 7:06 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 1: Blocks and Shaping Form
Handmade Violin, Part 2: Bending the C-Ribs
Handmade Violin, Part 3: Completing the Rib Structure
Handmade Violin, Part 4: Rib Linings

3 of 3 09/09/2006 7:06 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3674110,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 4: RIB LININGS
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-201 -- More Projects

In this episode of DIY's Handmade Music, we visit Chicago School of Violin Making. DIY's five-part series focusing on
violin-making gives viewers the opportunity to watch the evolution of a single violin. This first episode focuses on the
curved rib-structure.

The first stage of violin-making is nearly complete. We've seen how the rib structure is built. The next stage readies the
ribs for the top and back plates. In this segment, violin-maker Becky Elliott enhances the ribs with wood linings to prepare
them for addition of the plates.

The sides, or ribs of the violin


are made from thin strips of
maple, shaped using a
specialized hot iron and
assembled around a wood
form. The form is used only for
assembly, and is not part of the
violin.

In this episode of Handmade Music we've discovered there are really four basic stages of building a violin:

Constructing a rib structure.

Fabricating a top and back plates.

Carving a neck and scroll and adding a fingerboard.

Finally varnishing, assembly and set up will complete this violin.

The focus of this first episode in our violin series has been on the first stage -- the rib structure. Although most of that stage is complete, it's still necessary to
enhance the ribs to prepare them for the addition of the plates. That's done by adding linings (figure A) along the edge of each rib. Linings add a thicker gluing
surface to the ribs.

The linings insert into mortises that Becky cut into the blocks (figure B). They're cut from spruce and are fashioned into quarter-inch wide strips that
span from block to block along the edge of the ribs.

Figure A Figure B

Like the ribs, the linings are bent against an iron until they hold the shape of the violin's outline (figure C).

The key is to make sure the linings fit snugly. That means there's plenty of test-fitting and trimming before any glue is used (figure D). Loose linings
cause buzzing when the violin is played, so this step's importance should not be underestimated.

After hide-glue is used to attach the linings, a plane is used to level them with the maple ribs.

1 of 3 09/09/2006 7:11 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Figure C Figure D

When that step is complete, the focus shifts to the front and back plates.

As seen in the cross-section (figure E), the blocks and ribs are basically sandwiched between the plates. You
might also be surprised at how thin the plates are. But their strength is just as surprising.

Figure E
The top (figure F) is made from spruce and the back from maple.

Each plate's evolution begins with selecting quarter-sawn book-matched


stock (figure G).

Selection of the wood is critical. For the top, fine-grain spruce is used,
quarter-cut in a pie-slice shape. The light weight and strength make spruce
the ideal choice, allowing for a true transmission of tone.
Figure F
When a slice of this wood is held lightly and sharply tapped, it makes a
signature ringing tone. A clear bell-tone is indicative of a piece that will
provide optimal sound. For the back, flame-maple is used both for sound
and a visually beautiful grain-pattern.

Figure G
After selection, Becky planes the glue
joints for both plates, shaving tiny
ribbons from the stock (figure H).
Rather than running the plates across
a jointer, the specialized plane is set
up and the plates are run across its
blade to provide a spring joint. This
leaves a small, hairline gap in the
center, but is closed on the end. "This Figure H
actually creates a vacuum," says
Becky, "and we do what we call a
non-clamped joint [in which] the
perfection of the joint and the glue
itself holds the wood together as
strongly as if it were clamped."

The planing process is necessary for


both the maple and the spruce plates. Figure I
The technique is the same for both
types of wood, and requires precise
technique and measurement (figure
I).

That essentially completes this first critical phase in the creation of the violin. In later episodes, students create the neck and varnish the instrument to a
beautiful finish.

2 of 3 09/09/2006 7:11 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 1: Blocks and Shaping Form
Handmade Violin, Part 2: Bending the C-Ribs
Handmade Violin, Part 3: Completing the Rib Structure
Handmade Violin, Part 4: Rib Linings

3 of 3 09/09/2006 7:11 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3688783,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 5: FORMING THE PLATES
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-202 -- More Projects

This second episode of DIY's five-part series on violin-making focuses on the violin's plates -- i.e., the top and back. After
a quick review on the violin's rib structure, host Jeff Wilson and the staff at the Chicago School of Violin Making begin
creating the plates for the violin body.

The top plate is made from spruce that's specially selected for its tonal qualities. The back is made from flame-maple.
Expert violin-maker Becky Elliott joins book-matched pairs of stock using the "non-clamp" method used by violinmakers
for centuries. This episode is dedicated to following each step as the stock evolves from raw blanks to precisely crafted
violin plates. The students are treated to an exhibit of rare and expensive (twenty-million dollar) Stradivarius violins. Duly
inspired, the students and directors return to their projects and complete both plates.

Violin-builders share a passion for the craftsmanship that's been passed from master to apprentice through 500 years of
history. DIY's Handmade Music witnesses the modern manifestation of that long tradition as host Jeff Wilson and viewers
visit the Chicago School of Violin making to discover how students learn to build violins, cellos and violas. The school's
directors Becky Elliott and Fred Thompson tell us that students share a common motivation that goes beyond
woodworking.

"Maybe there's a universal desire," says Thompson, "to create something that makes beautiful music and will last a long
time. I think that's what most people are thinking about when they come here."
Fred Thompson, co-director of
"I think it's when you finish an instrument, and especially when you hear somebody else play it," adds Becky Elliott, "and the Chicago School of Violin
you realize all the time you spent on something useful, not just a visual object . . . there's no other reward like that." Making.

In Handmade Music's five-part series on the violin, we've broken up the construction of the violin into four main stages.
In the first episode, we built the ribs -- or sides -- of the violin. In this episode, we create the plates -- or the top and back.
Later we'll carve a neck and put it all together. In the final episode, we show how a violin bow is created.

Co-director and expert


violin-maker Becky Elliott.
Creating the plates begins with raw stock -- maple for the back and spruce for the top. According to Fred, the process starts with pieces of wood that are about
3/4" thick. The 3/4" edges are joined together, but once carving is done, the thickest portion of the violin's top is 1/8" thick. The way they do it here is with a
non-clamp joint. The key is a perfectly planed joint that creates an air chamber between a book-matched pair of pieces of wood stock.

"You push the slightly hollow pieces together, with glue between them, and rub them," explains Thompson, "to create a vacuum in that hollow space that
actually pulls the pieces together as the glue squeezes out."

Hot hide-glue bonds the two halves together for both the maple back and spruce front. Joining a quarter-sawn book matched pair creates a triangular blank
(figure A).

The peak will face out and the flat side is the inside of the violin. Both plates are flattened by hand-planing further before moving on ( figures B and C).

1 of 3 09/09/2006 7:14 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Figure B Figure C

Becky uses the ribs she finished earlier to mark an outline of the violin's shape onto both the maple and the spruce (figures D and E).

Figure D Figure E

She cuts the rough shapes with a bow-saw (figure F). The school has power tools, but working by hand gives students a deeper appreciation for how the
masters created their instruments.

Rough arching is the next step. It's the first of many efforts at thinning the plates. In this initial phase it's done using a gouge (figure G). Long cuts are made to
quickly eliminate unnecessary stock, and working across the grain prevents chipping. Later, carving and scraping will thin the plates even more.

Figure F Figure G

In the segment that follows, the shaping of the rough-cut plates continues.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
After the two book-matched
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
pieces of wood have been
ISBN: 0709058764
glued together, the rough
Order this book from Amazon.com.
cut-out for the plate is made by
Violin Making: A Practical Guide hand using a bow-saw.
Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914 The neck the violin will be
Order this book from Amazon.com. added after creating the sides
and the top and back plate.
Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use
Author: Henry A Strobel

2 of 3 09/09/2006 7:14 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)


ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 5: Forming the Plates
Handmade Violin, Part 6: Shaping the Plates
Handmade Violin, Part 7: Purfling and Completing the Plates

3 of 3 09/09/2006 7:14 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3688795,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 6: SHAPING THE PLATES
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-202 -- More Projects

This second episode of DIY's five-part series on violin-making focuses on the violin's plates -- i.e., the top and back.

Thus far, the book-matched halves of the wood plates have been joined. After sawing out the shapes, expert violin-maker
Becky Elliott thinned them a bit by rough gouging. In this segment we see how to bring each plate's edge to its final
thickness.

Expert violin-maker Becky


Elliott shows the various stages
in the shaping of the violin's
plates.

Perfecting the edge first sets a course to follow later when students create the violin's final arch. First, a channel gouge takes the plate down to the
required dimension at the edge (figure A). Calipers are used to insure the channel stays exactly the same thickness around the plate (figure B).

Figure A Figure B

Next a finger plane flattens the edge of the plate from the low point of the channel outward (figure C).

Filing the edge (figure D) is the last step.

When the process is done, the perimeter is completely even and consistent in thickness. The process is repeated again because the top and the back
plate require this step, but for each, the thickness varies slightly.

Figure C Figure D

Creating the final arch, or the finished exterior, of each plate is easier to demonstrate when you see all the stages together (figure E).

According to Becky, the process begins with rough gouging, then moves on to some edge-thicknessing to determine the low-point of the arch. Then
some additional gouging is done to finalize the shape of the arch. She then refines the arch using finger planes. Once she's happy with the shape, she
smoothes the surface using special scrapers made of hardened steel (figure F). These hand-scrapers are actually made at the school, and are preferred
for this type of smoothing than sandpaper.

The shape and thickness of the arch is critical to the sound of the violin and, like many handmade musical instruments, each violin has its own unique
character.

1 of 3 09/09/2006 7:15 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Figure E Figure F

Once the outer surfaces are done, the inside of each plate -- front and back -- must then gouged out. In other
words, the inside of each plate is flat (figure G) and needs to be hollowed out. Becky places the plate in a special
cradle for support and starts by carving away big chucks (figure H).

Slowly the inside takes shape. Becky works within guide-lines that she has marked on the surface of the plate,
and she monitors her progress closely to make sure she doesn't make the plates too thin. Since the outside of each
plate has been arched, she hollows the inside until the caliper reads between five and seven millimeters (figure
I). That's still too thick for a violin, but it's suitable for this early stage.
Figure G
In the segment that follows, purfling is added to the violin. Purfling serves both as visual decoration and an element to
help strengthen the structure of the violin.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998) Figure H
ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.
Figure I
Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur
Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047

2 of 3 09/09/2006 7:15 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 5: Forming the Plates
Handmade Violin, Part 6: Shaping the Plates
Handmade Violin, Part 7: Purfling and Completing the Plates

3 of 3 09/09/2006 7:15 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3688812,00.html

1 of 4 09/09/2006 7:15 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 7: PURFLING AND COMPLETING THE PLATES


From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-202 -- More Projects

In this episode of DIY's five-part series on violin-making, we focus on making the violin's plates -- i.e., the top and back.

Thus far, the book-matched halves of the wood plates have been joined, the plates have been cut to shape and thinned by
rough gouging, and each plate's edge has been carved to its final thickness. To finish the plates, purfling and an interior
bass bar will be added.

The first two phases in the


creation of this violin are now
complete -- the curved ribs and
the front and back plates. The
purfling has also been added to
the edges.

Purfling (figure A)serves both as visual decoration and an element to help strengthen the structure of the violin. "Purfling is a reinforcing strip," says expert
violin-maker Becky Elliott, "and its main function in the violin is to prevent cracks from traveling on the edge of the plate -- which is unsupported -- into the
center, where repair would be much more extensive."

The cross section shows how the purfling strips are seated in the plates (figure B).

Figure A Figure B

A channel has to be cut half the depth of each plate to accommodate the strips. The channel is marked around the perimeter (figures C and D). Also, notice
both plates are attached to the ribs temporarily. There's still plenty of work to do to the inside of the plates so they are just spot-glued to the ribs for reference
while students work.

Figure C Figure D

After the purfling channel is marked it's cut with a knife. The process is the same for both the front plate and the back
plate. Perfling is first added at the c-bouts -- or the "waist". After each strip is cut and bent, the channels are filled with
hide glue. The synthetic purfling is then set into place (figures E, F and G). It has to be seated tightly into the slot and the
excess glue must be cleared. Once the C-bouts are in place each section of perfling is cut to shape and glued into the
channel. The tricky part is that there are miter cuts required at each perfling joint.

The violin receives purfling on the front and back plates completely surrounding the instrument. At this point, the plates
are still a little high at the purfling channel. The next step is to reduce the height with a specially shaped gouge. The
height of the purfling actually brought down to slightly lower than the surface of the arch, and leaves a smooth edge. Figure E
Remember that the edge has been set to final thickness, so students have to slope smoothly from the edge to the purfling
channel. The cut is less than half a millimeter deep, and that will be the low point of the plate's arch. That sets the stage for
the next step.

This step is called final arching, and it's done with hand-scrapers. The plates should slope upward from the purfling
channel to the each plate's center. After the plates look and feel smooth, final arching is complete.

2 of 4 09/09/2006 7:15 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

The final enhancement for the top plate are the f-holes. When it's being played, the violin actually acts somewhat as a "bellows," and the f-holes allow air
movement in and out of the body of the violin. A template positions the f-holes (figure H) and a saw removes the bulk of the spruce (figure I). A knife is used
to finalize the shape.

At this stage, the outside of each plate looks finished, but more work remains for hollowing the inside. The final shaping of the inside of the plates follows an
established pattern that is preferred at the Chicago School. The thicknesses range from 3.2 millimeters to 2.5 millimeters, and
Becky's task is to transition smoothly from one thickness to the next. Calipers are essential here but there's also room for intuitive measurement.

Figure H Figure I

Finally the top plate needs one more essential piece -- the bass bar. According to Becky, the function of the bass bar is to transfer the vibrations from the
violin's bridge along the length of the plate. It's called the "bass bar" because it is positioned beneath the bass strings of the violin.

The bass bar begins as a piece of split spruce (figure J) which is planed down to a specific thickness (figure K). It is then fit into the plate for an exact and tight
fit. It's actually fashioned so that it puts a small amount of tension on the plate.

Figure J Figure K

As its being glued to the plate, the bar is held in position with glued-in wooden cletes (figure L) Once the bass bar is glued in place it has to be trimmed with a
finger plane (figure M).

Figure L Figure M

When the bass bar is shaped to perfection the top plate is completely finished (figure N). The results are amazing
considering this beautiful piece began as a book matched piece of spruce. But before students can celebrate a milestone,
there is still work to do thicknessing the back. Thicknessing the back is done just like the top, but the difference is in the
dimensions. When the back plate is finished it's glued to the rib assembly and left to dry.

Figure N
RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide

3 of 4 09/09/2006 7:15 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Author: Juliet Barker


Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 5: Forming the Plates
Handmade Violin, Part 6: Shaping the Plates
Handmade Violin, Part 7: Purfling and Completing the Plates

4 of 4 09/09/2006 7:15 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3707954,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 8: INTERIOR LININGS AND BLOCKS
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-203 -- More Projects

This third episode of DIY's five-part series on violin-making focuses mainly on creating the violin's neck and scroll.
Previous episodes have focused on the violin's rib construction and the top and back plates. Becky Elliott and Fred
Thompson, directors at the Chicago School of Violin Making, lead viewers through the process of creating and shaping
the neck. Some of the schools students share some of their techniques and experiences as well.

In this first segment, the violin form is removed and work begins on trimming the interior wood blocks and adding wood
linings to the inside.

Work begins with removing the form from the back plate and ribs. The form is not part of the violin, but is a temporary means of holding the blocks in place
from the inside until the ribs and plates are installed. Now that we've glued the back-plate to the ribs, the form has served its purpose. Third-year student Jeremy
Koons taps the blocks to loosen the form (figure A) then removes the form once and for all (figure B).

Figure A Figure B

With the form removed, it's possible to see the back plate glued to the ribs (figure C). The linings for the back-plate are now visible. This view also hints at the
next phase of the process. The inside edge of each block (figure D) needs trimming and the front-plate linings have to be added. Only then can the front plate
be added to the body.

Figure C Figure D

Jeremy begins the process of adding the linings (figure E). Just like the back plate's linings, these are made from spruce and they're bent with a bending iron to
mimic the violin's outline. The purpose of the linings is to give the thin ribs more glue surface. This gives the plate a wider perch. They have to be snug to
prevent the violin from "buzzing," and the mortises cut into the blocks enhance the fit. Multiple clamps hold the linings in place as the glue dries ( figure F).

1 of 3 09/09/2006 7:17 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Figure E Figure F

With the linings in place, second-year-student Trudy Scott trims the blocks to remove the extra wood that dampens the violin's sound. The process includes
smoothing and refining the inner blocks by hand with a scraper (figures G and H). She leaves the end blocks with plenty of excess because those spots will
support more violin structure -- like the neck and endpin. But the corner blocks are trimmed flush with the ribs.

Trudy first became interested in violin-making when her children were taking Suzuki lessons to learn how to play violin. In that program, young students start
with small violins, then graduate sequentially to larger ones as they grow. Renting or purchasing multiple violins for three children can get very costly, so
Trudy researched the possibility of making violins. That led her eventually to the Chicago school.

Figure G Figure H

In the segment that follows, work continues with gluing on the front plate to finish the body. Then work begins on to
carving the neck.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Trudy Scott,
Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
second-year-student at the
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
Chicago School of Violin
ISBN: 0709058764
Making, explains how she first
Order this book from Amazon.com.
became interested in violin
Violin Making: A Practical Guide making. With three children
Author: Juliet Barker learning to play violin, her
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001) original incentive was
ISBN: 1861264364 financial.
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use Fred Thompson, co-director at
Author: Henry A Strobel the Chicago School of Violin
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989) Making, works on a cello.
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737 The violin body is prepped for
Author: William Henry Hill the addition of the top plate.
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

2 of 3 09/09/2006 7:17 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 8: Interior Linings and Blocks
Handmade Violin, Part 9: Gluing the Top Plate
Handmade Violin, Part 10: Carving the Neck

3 of 3 09/09/2006 7:17 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3707968,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 9: GLUING THE TOP PLATE
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-203 -- More Projects

This third episode of DIY's five-part series on violin-making focuses on creating the violin's neck and scroll. Prior to
carving the neck, however, work continues with gluing on the front plate to finish the body, then smoothing the edges of
the completed body. Those are the steps covered in this second episode segment.

The assembled violin body.


The next phase is the creation
of the neck.

Prior to gluing on the top, the inside blocks have been shaped, the inside of the body is cleaned out and excess glue is removed. Sealer is applied to the inside of
the back and top (figure A).

Also before glue-up, in order to ensure a perfect fit, some planing of the ribs may be necessary (figure B). Test-fits and test-clamping are performed to make
certain that there are no gaps.

Figure A Figure B

Hide-glue is used to join the pieces of the violin together, and it's necessary for the glue to be hot. To keep it from cooling before the bond is secure, test fitting
of the pieces is always done before this step. Because the glue sets up quickly, this step is done by two people so that the process can be completed more
quickly. Glue is applied to the appropriate portions of the top and ribs (figure C). The top plate is then carefully put into position (figure D).

Figure C Figure D

Once the front plate is in place, it is clamped to allow the glue to dry (figure E). Again, this is a two-person job. The
clamps are left on until the glue has dried, which takes about two hours. As an extra precaution, students hold an alcohol
lamp under the seam. It keeps the hide glue hot while the plate settles-in under the pressure of the clamps. Once it's dry
there's just a little work left to finish the violin body.

1 of 3 09/09/2006 7:18 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Figure E

With the glue dried, the outside edges of the violin's plate must be rounded and smoothed using a series of rasps and files (figures F and G). According to
violin-maker Becky Elliott, the outside edge is rounded and brought up the lip of the channel made earlier. "How far you bring that lip around, and how clean
that line is," she says "is very individual. It's a style choice of the maker. A clean, crisp line is preferable."

Figure F Figure G

The violin maker's eye is the key here, because there has to be a balance in the inside-and-outside roundness (figures H and I). Makers have to look at the
instrument now from all angles now.

Figure H Figure I

Finally, to finish the violin body a notch is cut at the bottom of the top-plate (figure J). This is for the saddle to be added. "The saddle is a piece of ebony that's
set into the edge of the top, above the lower block," says Chicago School co-director Fred Thompson, "The purpose of the saddle is to hold the tail-gut that
attaches the tail-piece to the end-button. Without the saddle, the tail-gut would cut right into the spruce because spruce is pretty soft."

Once the saddle is added, the body is complete (figure K).

Figure J Figure K

In the segment that follows, work gets underway with cutting and hand-shaping the neck.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

2 of 3 09/09/2006 7:18 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 8: Interior Linings and Blocks
Handmade Violin, Part 9: Gluing the Top Plate
Handmade Violin, Part 10: Carving the Neck

3 of 3 09/09/2006 7:18 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3707969,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 10: CARVING THE NECK
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-203 -- More Projects

This third episode of DIY's five-part series on violin-making focuses on creating the violin's neck and scroll. The body of
the violin has been assembled, and the glue has dried. Then next phase is the creation of the neck.

The neck is made from maple, and its crafting includes several points of emphasis -- but overall the violin maker's success
is defined by the quality of the scroll. The simple and elegant shape of the spiral is one of the most beautiful parts of the
instrument.

The precision and curves on


scroll on the neck is indicative
of the quality in the
violin-maker's craft.

"It's probably one of the more daunting parts of the violin for students who don't have a lot of woodworking experience," says expert violin-maker Fred
Thompson, "Laying it out in a series of steps, going from step to step and knowing which cuts to make first kind of clarifies and simplifies the process. Really, I
think for most students it becomes one of the most enjoyable parts of making the violin."

First, a block is cut from maple, and some preliminary shaping is done using a hand-plane (figures A and B).

Figure A Figure B

After marking the block of lumber with a template, a blank (figure C) is cut using a band saw.

From there, work begins on the scroll. According to expert violin-maker Becky Elliott, the creation of the scroll can be
broken down into individual steps, but it's actually a continuing process, with refinements being made by going back
through the series of steps again and again. Students should expect to spend at least two weeks on their first scroll.

Figure C

Before breaking out the gouge for carving, a saw trims the majority of un-needed wood (figure D). The surplus is marked in pencil, and Becky gets started
carving using a small hand saw (figure E).

Figure D Figure E

1 of 3 09/09/2006 7:18 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

The sawing will eventually create facets. Those facets ware rounded with the gouge (figure F). Again, experienced violin
makers view this as a continuous process, but for the purpose of teaching the students, the process is broken down into
steps. It's done in a number of small stages, starting from the outside and working inward, with a series of gouges that
gradually get narrower. At each level, more of the outside wood is removed. Violin-makers refer to the stages as first turn,
second turn and so on.

Figure F

Evidence of the staging, or the facets, eventually fades and continuity emerges. That's especially true when it's done by a
master violin-maker like Tschu Ho Li, co-founder of the Chicago School of Violin Making. Mister Li now serves as an
advisor at the school he founded. His skill is evident in all aspects of violin building, but it's a marvel to watch him create
a scroll (figures G and H). Students at the Chicago School of Violin Making have been watching and learning from him
since 1975 when he opened the school's doors. Before that, he played the violin as a youth in Korea. Eventually he made
his way to the Mittenwald School in Germany -- the world's premier school of violin making. After graduating early, Li
earned his Meister certificate, meaning he's a master violinmaker -- the highest honor bestowed on a violinmaker. Li's
leadership and spirit continue to influence the Chicago School of Violin Making. Figure G

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
ISBN: 0709058764
Figure H
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:

2 of 3 09/09/2006 7:18 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Handmade Violin, Part 8: Interior Linings and Blocks


Handmade Violin, Part 9: Gluing the Top Plate
Handmade Violin, Part 10: Carving the Neck

3 of 3 09/09/2006 7:18 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3726091,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 11: MORTISE AND ASSEMBLY
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-204 -- More Projects

This fourth episode of DIY's five-part series on violin-making focuses the final stages in the creation of violin -- final
assembly, varnishing and polishing. Previous episodes have focused on the violin's rib construction, the top and back
plates, the neck and the scroll. In the final episode dealing with the instrument itself, Becky Elliott and Fred Thompson,
directors at the Chicago School of Violin Making, lead viewers through the final stages in the completion of the violin
process of creating and shaping the neck. Some of the schools students share some of their techniques and experiences as
well. In a later episode, the process of creating the violin bow will be addressed.

In this first segment Kwangho Lee, a third-year student at the Chicago School creates the mortise in the violin body to
accommodate the neck, and glues the pieces together.

We've been observing the process of building a violin in stages at the Chicago School of Violin Making. Now, with the
help of some of the school's students, students, it all comes together. We've watched the students and their instructors
build a body. It began with the sides, or ribs. Then after crafting two plates (a top and a back) everything was glued
together. From there, the neck was carved with particular attention to the scroll. Now the neck and the body have to be
joined. Then the instrument will be varnished. Set-up will follow, butt first a mortise must be cut into the body. This will
make way for the neck.

The Mortise

Kwangho Lee is a third-year student at the Chicago School of Violin Making, puts the final touches on the mortise.
Before the neck is glued to the body, final measurements are taken. He checks two things: how high the fingerboard rises
over the top-plate, and the all-important centerline.

The fingerboard and the center of the scroll have to line-up with the instrument's center. It's another way of saying it must
be balanced. Previously the neck's width was carved with the fingerboard as a guide. Now the neck's thickness is carved.
Kwangho marks the where the ribs contact the neck and uses those marks to shape the button. He carves the shape
primarily with a knife. Additionally, the button helps determine the remaining proportions of the neck. Kwangho shapes
the neck to those new proportions first with a gouge and then with a knife.

Finally, with the carving complete, the neck can be glued to the violin body. Remember that the fingerboard is only
temporarily attached. It's been used to align the neck and serve as a template, but when the neck is firmly attached, the
fingerboard will be removed. Only after varnishing will the fingerboard be permanently mounted to the neck. This step
really should be a "no-brainer" since all the difficult work and tough decision were made when the mortise was cut. If
that's done properly, the gluing is a simple, stress-free process.

In the segment that follows, students at the Chicago School receive a valuable lesson in violin history, and our handmade
violin receives its varnish and final polish.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall

1 of 2 09/09/2006 7:20 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)


ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com. Fred Thompson, co-director of
the Chicago School of Violin
Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur Making.
Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Co-director and expert
Order this book from Amazon.com.
violin-maker Becky Elliott.
The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762
Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 11: Mortise and Assembly
Handmade Violin, Part 12: Varnishing and Polishing
Handmade Violin, Part 13: Finis

2 of 2 09/09/2006 7:20 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3726096,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 12: VARNISHING AND POLISHING
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-204 -- More Projects

This fourth episode of DIY's five-part series on violin-making focuses the final stages in the creation of violin. In this
second segment of the episode, the violin receives the varnish. But first, the students at the Chicago School of Violin
Making receive a brief history lesson that's relevant to their efforts at building and finishing a violin.

To build a violin, the students at the Chicago School first have to know their violins, and they learn history from the best.
They are able to see up-close priceless violins made by masters like Stradivarius, and ones that have been played by some
of the leading violinists from past years and earlier centuries. It may seem that Stradivarius and his contemporaries
protected some closely guarded trade-secrets to secure their place in history but that's not exactly true. According to
Chicago School graduate Whitney Osterud, the master violin makers worked in simpler times. Most of the layout done on
even the priceless classics shown in the school's collection can be done with a straight-edge, pencil and divider. Early
templates and patterns were relatively simple. The builders did have a firm grasp of "the golden mean," but the designs
were not based on complex formulas or calculations.

As these students search the tabletop library of knowledge the secrets they seek are right in front of them in the priceless instruments on display. One instructor,
Phillip Greenberg of the Savannah Symphony, encourages the students to give special attention to becoming experts on wood and its tonal properties. Sound
advice. Another thing about wood is that it also has some nice visual properties. That becomes apparent during the next step in the creation of the violin --
varnishing.

Mixing varnish is the first step in finishing a violin. It's an important step, and at times it can seem a bit like chemistry
class. After orchestrating a mix that includes seedlac, turpentine and alcohol, a varnish concoction emerges. Students
hope their alchemy creates a finishes similar to those created by Stradivarius, but exhibit curator and conductor Phillip
Greenberg explains that there may be less "magic" in that process than one might imagine. "I know that all of you . . . may
forever be in search of Strad's secret varnish formula," he says, "but in my opinion, it's an exercise in futility. There were
no 'secrets.' You could go into the equivalent of a typical hardware store of the day and buy the same varnish.
House-painters had it." With some of the pressure of seeking the "perfect varnish" removed by those words, students can
be content in the varnish they create. Confidence and ability have a way of improving naturally at the Chicago School.

In our demonstration, one of the students applies a spirit varnish, gently brushing on a series of thin coats.

The Varnishing Process

According to co-director Becky Elliott, depending on the violin-maker's preference, as many as 20 to 30 coats may be
applied. Becky summarizes the overall process thusly:

The process starts with a "white violin," cleaned and smoothed, but with no varnish.

A water-color may be added to soften the white shade a bit. A ground coat is then applied to add a small
amount of color to the wood, and also to serve as an intermediate coat between the wood and first coat of
varnish. The ground coat must be formulated so that it's able to adhere to the wood, and so that the varnish will
in turn be able to adhere to the varnish. The ground coat has partial sealing properties that prevent the varnish
from soaking completely into the wood.

Clear coats of varnish are added next. That's something of a misnomer since these coats aren't entirely "clear,"
but actually starts to darken the wood somewhat. Some additional color may be added at this point using color
coats. Once the color is built to the desired point, the process ends with a final clear coat. The exact color and
degree of darkness may vary according to the maker's preference.

Pure sable brushes, in a variety of sizes, are used for the process of varnishing. These work best for an alcohol-based

1 of 3 09/09/2006 7:21 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

varnish. A large brush is used for the body, medium for the scroll and a small brush for detail work.

During this process, there is a temporary block attached to the neck. This keeps varnish off the neck where the fingerboard
will be glued later. When students finish each coat, and ultimately when they finish all varnishing, the violins are stashed
in a drying room.

After brushing on twenty or more coats of varnish, the violin is allowed to dry in preparation for the final steps of
touch-up and polishing.

Touch-Up, Polish and Set-Up

According to expert violin-maker Fred Thompson, touch-up mainly involves taking a small brush and adding varnish to some of the areas of lighter application,
between the general coats. Some sanding was done earlier, between application of varnish coats.

In addition to touch-up, polishing is one of the final steps in violin-making. Fred removes brush-marks with very-fine foam-backed abrasive pads, ranging from
1800-grit to 6000-grit. This leaves a surface that will be easy to polish. It's best to wait at least a week after the last coat of varnish before polishing the violin.

Fred the uses a scrap of clean cloth, some alcohol, and a little mineral oil. He describes it as "a little like French-polishing,
but without shellac." The alcohol softens the varnish a bit, allowing any sanding marks to be removed. The mineral oil
acts as a lubricant to prevent the rag from sticking. It's critical to keep the cloth moving, since the varnish is actually being
softened as you work. Stopping could leave undesired marks in the finish.

The goal of the polishing is to remove any brush-marks and sanding marks -- ending with a smooth, transparent finish.

In the segment that follows, the final add-ons are added -- including the pegs, sound-post, bridge and strings -- so that the
first sounds can be made by this handmade instrument.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth

2 of 3 09/09/2006 7:21 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)


ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 11: Mortise and Assembly
Handmade Violin, Part 12: Varnishing and Polishing
Handmade Violin, Part 13: Finis

3 of 3 09/09/2006 7:21 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3726105,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN, PART 13: FINIS
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-204 -- More Projects

In this final segment in DIY's Handmade Music series on violin making, the final steps are completed to give this
instrument its voice. The final add-ons are installed -- including the pegs, sound-post, bridge and strings -- so that the first
sounds can be made on this newly created instrument.

The final polish removes any


brush marks left by the
varnishing process.

With the vanishing and polishing done, the visual transformation is complete. But the violin needs several "add-ons" before it can be played. Expert
violin-maker Fred Thompson begins the set-up by gluing on the finger-board. He first uses a knife to remove the temporary protective-block that was placed on
the neck during varnishing. Then he glues the fingerboard back into position using hide-glue. With the fingerboard in place, he allows several hours for the
glue to dry.

With the fingerboard installed and dressed, the remaining bare-wood section of the neck will be sealed with shellac and polish. This portion of the violin is not
varnished since the varnish would wear off when the instrument is played, and could cause stickiness that could impede movement of the musicians fingers.
This section will be sealed and polished, but basically kept as bare wood so that it remains smooth.

The violin is now practically complete. The next step is to add the pegs to the scroll section of the neck. Setting the pegs is
fairly simple and, obviously, important. A peg reamer sizes each hole, and the pegs are firmly put into place to await the
strings.

Installing the pegs.


Before string can be added, one of the least impressive looking -- but most important -- components has to be added: the sound post. This is a simple wooden
dowel that must be installed without glue. "The sound post has a couple of functions," says Thompson. "It supports the top under the treble-foot of the bridge.
There's quite a bit of downward pressure there from the strings. It also effects the way the top of the violin vibrates and the way it produces sound, so the
position is very important. It also has to fit snugly and well inside." Fred uses a special tool to insert the post through the violin's F-hole.
Equally ital to the performance of the violin, the bridge is added next. From a blank, Fred carves a custom fit for this
violin bridge. He adjusts the height and its relationship to the fingerboard. Also, he trims the bridge-feet to fit the arch of
the top-plate.

The bridge.
Each string is added, one end in the tailpiece and the other end through its peg. Finally, a sound emerges from all the hard
work that has gone before. This violin is now, as they say at the school, "in the books. " But students here at the Chicago
School of Violin Making build cellos and violas as well. All three varieties share similar quality traits.

The instrument's outline gives an overall picture. A graceful symmetry in the arching indicates quality. Smooth transitions
from all points are part of a great violin as well, and the F-holes are a dead giveaway to a job well done. Symmetry,
position, size and shape are all clues to good f-holes. Fiinally, good varnish is obvious even to the layman. Even
application , minimal brush marks and good color are lofty goals to which students at the Chicago School aspire. But the

1 of 2 09/09/2006 7:22 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

ultimate goal of any student is a real-world application -- the way the instrument sounds when it's played.

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

An Encyclopedia of the Violin


Author: Alberto Abraham Bachmann
Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 1975)
ISBN: 0306800047
Order this book from Amazon.com.

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin, Part 11: Mortise and Assembly
Handmade Violin, Part 12: Varnishing and Polishing
Handmade Violin, Part 13: Finis

2 of 2 09/09/2006 7:22 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

DIY NETWORK

To print this page, select File then Print from your browser
URL: http://www.diynet.com/diy/hb_musical_instruments/article/0,2033,DIY_13881_3744211,00.html
HANDMADE VIOLIN BOW: FASHIONING AND BENDING THE STICK
From "Handmade Music"
episode DHMM-205 -- More Projects

This episode of DIY's five-part series on violin-making focuses on the creation of a violin bow. In the four preceding
episodes, we saw students and instructors at the Chicago School of Violin Making go through all the steps in the creation
of a violin.

Though to the novice it may look like little more than a stick, you'd likely be amazed at the complexity, precision, and
dedication required in building violin bows. In this special episode on the violin bow, we show you how it's done.

Steven Beckley checks his


work as he fashions a newly
made violin bow from
pernambuco wood.

What's the difference between a violin and a fiddle? Most people say the only difference is in the violinist or the fiddler.
In other words, it's how the instrument is played. One thing that's the same for both is the importance of the bow If you
think of a violin as a high-performance machine, then the bow is the fuel that powers it. Without the very best fuel, a
violin can never reach its maximum potential. For a violinist, performing with a 19th century French bow can be a dream
come true, but those bows command a king's ransom. Today on handmade music we'll discover how modern craftsmen
offer alternatives for the world's best musicians.

Our lesson in bow making brings us to Mendocino, California where Steven Beckley creates bows of exceptional
craftsmanship and beauty. Steven's task is not unlike that of a symphony conductor. Both must interpret master works with
great respect and understanding. Steven makes each bow his own with a tip of the hat to the classics.

To show you how to build a bow, we focus on two of its components, the stick and the frog.

Beginning with the stick's construction, sticks are made with pernambuco wood. A bow must be dense, strong, elastic,
light and -- if that's not enough -- beautifully grained and colored. That makes pernambuco the only choice. But don't
expect to find it in your local lumberyard. In fact, with its South American habitat severely threatened, bow makers have
become the tree's protectors.

The role is something Steven takes seriously and his first step proves it. He marks-out a bow blank from a template with
great precision. Wasting material is considered a mortal sin among bow makers. Using a band saw, Steven creates a blank
before checking its quality.

Rapping the stick against his palm tells him plenty about the character of this wood. He's feeling for vibrations that
indicate a stick's action. To judge wood, time and experience are the only forms of education a bow maker receives.
The transformation from blank to bow begins with the head. In the first stage, Steve marks a profile and cuts away a
rough shape.
A completed violin bow seen
next to a solid pernambuco
"blank" before it has been
shaped and bent.

1 of 4 09/09/2006 7:23 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

In this stage, Steve also attaches the tip. The tip's job is to hold the horsetail hair to the head. Traditionally the tips were made from ivory, but amazingly the
material of choice has become mastodon tusk -- an animal that has been extinct for about 10,000 years. Frozen remains are still found today in the artic tundra.

Steven attaches it to the roughly carved head with glue (figures A and B).

Figure A Figure B

His clamping method (figures C and D) gives an idea of the practical and independent nature of bow makers.

"Sometimes the simplest is still the best this way," says Steve, "I'm able to apply pressure over a large area with quite a bit of tension. It's very non-marring so I
don't have to worry about using a caul or something like that to protect any of the pieces.

Figure C Figure D

After the glue dries the tip's placement proves helpful in carving the head (figure E).

"Not all bow makers put the tip on this early," says Steve, "but to me I find it really helpful to have the point of reference
of the tip. It really tells you where everything is. You obviously now know the height of the head you know the length of
the head you know where the bow starts at so it's really nice to be able to have a solid point of reference like that."

Figure E

The band saw only roughed out the head's shape. Steven will methodically transform its shape from rectangle to triangle
to violin bow head (figure F). Files, scrapers and knives gradually form a shapely head.

Figure F
Next, Steven adds a mortise to the tip. This will eventually be the entry point into the head for the horsetail hair. The Initial hole is drilled into the tip using a
bow-lathe for control (figures G and H).

Figure G Figure H

Using a past work for its pattern Steven scribes the lines for the mortise (figure I). Eventually a wedge will trap the
horsetail hair into this mortise.

2 of 4 09/09/2006 7:23 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

The angles are cut with precision to make the fit absolutely perfect (figures J and K). Keep in mind that the hair will be changed often over the life of the bow,
so glue can never be used to hold the hair or the wedge in place.

Figure J Figure K

After carving the rough profile of the head and attaching the tip, Steve's ready to bend the stick. The stick's bend is called
its camber, and every aspect of the bow's camber is controlled, before bending. by creating a predetermined taper -- or
graduation. That progression means Steven will mark changes in thickness along the stick (figure L).

Figure L
He makes adjustments with a hand plane, and checks constantly on his progress (figures M and N).

The square bow blank will eventually be circular, but the transformation happens in stages. Stage one requires Steven to
plane the blank into an octagon. With eight forty-five degree facets, the task of creating a circle is simple. He just rounds
the edges. But that stage will have to wait. In the short term the stick remains an octagon.

Ideally, before moving on, the head should share the stick's design. It too will be rounded in time and adding facets will
aid that task. This step is really about symmetry. Steven wants a smooth flow extending from the butt end of the stick up
over the head and all the way to the end of the tip. Figure M

" I always like to think of it as like throwing a pebble into a calm pond," says Steven, "but in this case you get to control
how the ripples in the water are."

Steven's eye for detail and coordinated carving are major assets. This work is certainly not recommended for a first time
luthier. When the stick and the head are evenly tapered and sporting an octagon shape it's time for the stick to become a
bow. In other words it's time to put the camber into the stick.

"Camber is the bend that we put in the bow," say Steven, "and it's kind of like a suspension like a leaf spring is a
suspension for a car. You put that suspension under tension with the hair and then the hair and the camber ride against Figure N
each other."

The dry heat of an alcohol lamp is used to prepare the wood for bending (figure O). It provides a low temperature flame
that penetrates inside the stick without damaging the exterior. When a specific area is warm enough Steven provides
pressure to force the bend (figure P).

"Lately I've been just bending freehand and what I'm trying to do control the bend," says Steven "by heating it evenly and
then putting some stress on the stick and just letting it take a natural bend due to the stress. I think that a bow has
somewhat of a natural bend. Your exact bend is kind of a partnership with what your graduations are. You have to go
back and forth with what your graduations are and your camber -- to get it all come out even."
Figure O

Figure P
Clearly Steven's technique demonstrates an intimate understanding of pernambuco's character. Its camber must be created inch by inch. All along he keeps an
eye on the direction the stick tries to bend. If it's getting out of square, more time in the flame might be required.

3 of 4 09/09/2006 7:23 PM
DIY Network: Musical Instruments http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cda/article_print/0,1983,DIY_13881_3...

RESOURCES:

The Art of Violin Making


Authors: Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
Published by: Robert Hale & Company (1998)
ISBN: 0709058764
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Practical Guide


Author: Juliet Barker
Publisher: Crowood Press [UK] (2001)
ISBN: 1861264364
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Violin Making: A Guide for the Amateur


Author: Bruce Ossman
Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company (1998)
ISBN: 1565230914
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Useful Measurements for Violin Makers: A Reference For Shop Use


Author: Henry A Strobel
Publisher: Henry Strobel Publisher (5th edition - July, 1989)
ISBN: 0962067326
Order this book from Amazon.com.

The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, 1626-1762


Authors: William Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill, Hill Alfred Ebsworth
Publisher: Dover Publications; (Reprint edition - October, 1989)
ISBN: 0486260615
Order this book from Amazon.com.

Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, 1644-1737


Author: William Henry Hill
Publisher: Dover Publications (2nd edition - June, 1963)
ISBN: 0486204251
Order this book from Amazon.com.

GUESTS:

Steven Beckley
Owner, Bow Works
Little River, CA
Phone:707-937-0570
Email: Steven@Beckley-ViolinBows.com

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:


Handmade Violin Bow: Fashioning and Bending the Stick

4 of 4 09/09/2006 7:23 PM