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Giuseppe Guarneri (Del Gesù) 1742

“Alard” Violin construction

Table of Contents


Table of Measurements

Chapter 1
Patterns and mold

Chapter 2

Chapter 3
Plate carving

Chapter 4
Installing the Purfling

Chapter 5
Plate tuning and installation

Chapter 6
Fitting the neck

Chapter 7
Setting up the instrument
In the white

Chapter 8
Varnish Application

Chapter 9
Final setup of the instrument

Forward tools and the fixtures. Being at sea I just
could not run down to the nearest music
Some years ago I received a store (nearest land was straight down). It
poster in my Strad magazine of took me the entire deployment to
Giuseppe Guarneri Del Gesù Alard complete. That year at Christmas I
Violin. I was excited about it at first, and presented the poorest instrument that I
then my excitement waned as I had to go have ever seen to my uncle. He was so
to work to earn my living as a Master happy and tried to play that crude
Maintenance Mechanic. My love for representation to no avail. That day I
fiddles started during my Navy career. decided that my next one would be
My mother’s cousin (my god father) better. Here it is 26 years, 3 marriages, 2
wanted a violin to play but could not daughters and 32 instruments later; I
afford even the cheapest instrument. I have become proficient enough to
referred to him as my uncle ever since I produce a quality instrument. I
could remember being on the farm with experiment and sell violins and fiddles
them. The guidance given was not occasionally. Constantly trying to
always headed as I grew up. I believe the improve the instruments I build. I have
Lord placed me there for a reason. had no formal education in the
Through the years I was on the receiving construction if violins but was an artist at
end for everything. Yes, I did appreciate heart. My education after dropping out
it. With 6 brothers and one sister the of high school was completed in the
attention wasn’t on the middle child for Army. They taught me to be a helicopter
long. After my tour of duty in the U.S. repairman and to shoot straight. I could
Army (fighting Ticks and Chiggers in not see a use for this trade when I
Texas) I joined the U.S. Navy where I returned home to my uncle’s farm. In
stayed for the next 14.5 years. My first January of 1980 I was discharged from
tour of duty was onboard the USS the Army but was unable to find
Forrestal CV-59 based out of Mayport, employment. After moving around from
Fl. near Jacksonville. The year was one relative to another, I had enough and
1980. I returned home for Christmas joined the Navy. Being wiser and older I
leave straight to my uncle’s farm. That selected a trade that I could use later on.
was when my grandfather gave me his I liked the Navy and stayed receiving
copy of a Giovanni Palo Maggini violin. more education and advancement. The
I then found out that my uncle had different schools and duty stations taught
always wanted a violin but being a me theory and practical application of
farmer could not afford the expense. that theory. I was required to study many
I thought that I may be able to build a different things focused on fluid and
violin and give it to him for the next steam power. Throughout this I
Christmas. I had no real idea of the continued building while at sea. With
process involved (little did I know that I instrument 28 I had a turning point. My
would continue building violins for so instruments started selling. I was
long). After my leave was up I was due confident enough to start repairing for
to deploy overseas with the Forrestal. I friends and relatives. Half of the
ordered a book on building a violin from instruments reside with family members,
Lynchburg press. Read the book and some were destroyed some given away.
over the next year fabricated the parts,

I was always reading everything that I projection. The instrument was sold 3
could get my hands on concerning violin weeks after completion.
construction. I have learned and applied
that learning to the instruments I
construct. My latest instrument is a
Hardanger style Fiddle number 32,

Started as a Maggini copy in 1999,

converted to the Hardanger when I
realized the arching was incorrect for the
Maggini. Date of completion September
2006 with in actuality a good sound and

(Purfling to edge varies in center bouts)
Table of Measurements Purfling distance to edge -------------- 4.1
Del Gesù 1742 upper and lower bouts 4.3 center bouts
Arching height -------------------------16.5 Purfling groove depth ----------------2.5
Body length---------------------------353.5 estimated
Body length needed to make wood Neck length upper edge to nut ------130
resonances correspond on the Violin- Neck angle in degrees ----------------79.1
349.6 Neck height over top -----------------24
Ratio of actual body volume to volume Neck thickness no fingerboard toe-11.75
of a Violin------------------------------- 1 Neck thickness no fingerboard heel
Ratio needed to make air resonance 11.75 at start of curve, 37 at dovetail
correspond with Violin-----------------1 Neck thickness, fingerboard toe -----20.5
Body width Upper bout------------ 167.5 Neck thickness, fingerboard heel------ 45
Body width Center bout------------ 112.5 Back button width----------------------- 17
Body width Lower bout------------ 207.5 Back button length---------------------- 11
Stop length--------------------------- 193.6 Sound hole upper lobe diameter-------6.5
Side height --------------------------- 32 Sound hole lower lobe diameter-------- 9
Side thickness------------------------ 1.1 Scroll refer to plan
Lining height Upper bouts --------- 2.5 Peg box width inside top “A” peg -----16
Lining height center bouts---------- 3 Peg box width inside btm. “A” peg -14.2
Lining height lower bouts----------- 3.5 Peg box width inside top “G” peg---16.5
Lining thickness ----------------------2 Peg box width inside top “G” peg---- 22
Lining length --------------------------230 Peg box side width top--------- 5.3L 4.6R
Arching height Top ------------------ 16.5 Peg box side width btm. --------------27.2
Arching height Back ---------------- 4.2 String nut length ---------------------22-27
Distance, upper sound hole circle--- 43.5 String nut height ------------------------- 9
Distance, lower sound hole circle--- 114 Saddle nut height ------------------------7.5
Distance, bridge line------------------72.6 Saddle nut width ---------------------- 35.5
Top, and Back thickness refer to plan Saddle nut shoulder to end------------- 11
Bar length above bridge line ---------138 Fingerboard length----------------------270
Bar length below bridge line --------129 Fingerboard width at nut -------------23.5
Bar length overall ---------------------268 Fingerboard width at heel ------------- 32
Bar height at bridge line ---------------15 Fingerboard edge thicknesses at nut-- 9.5
Bar height at ends -----------------------6 Fingerboard edge thickness at heel----10
Edge thickness back, neck button-----5.1 Fingerboard surface radius --------- 42 @
Edge thickness back, upper bout base bridge end
side corner block------------------------4.5 Fingerboard height, bridge end --11 – 26
Edge thickness back, center bout-----3.9 Bridge width outside of feet ----------- 40
Edge thickness back lower bout corner Bridge thickness at string --------------1.2
block--------------------------------------4.5 Bridge thickness at feet --------------- 4.5
Edge thickness back, lower bout widest Bridge foot height ------------------------ 1
point--------------------------------------3.7 Sound post diameter ------------------ 6
Edge thickness back, end block------ 4
Edge overhangs ------------------------3.7
average 5 at corner block miters
Channel width ------------------------- 2.5

Chapter 1
First fabricate the patterns from
Patterns and mold the drawing. These were stacked 3 high
Giuseppe Guarneri (Del Gesù) and held together with spray adhesive. A
1742 Alard Violin is this project I try to l 1/8 inch diameter hole was drilled ½
apply the theories that I have learned inch below the neck and end block
through the years. They will be locations on the centerline, using a 1/8
documented here for later use and inch dowel, gives consistent alignment
analyses. of the patterns to the mold for tracing.
Start with the poster provided by The plate out line (photo 01 right
the Strad Magazine of Giuseppe pattern) is cut to the line then sanded
Guarneri (Del Gesù) 1742 Alard Violin. with an oscillating fence and drum
The plan was photo copied at a local sander. Removing the drawn line, I
printer some years ago. Unfortunately it checked the shape of the pattern to the
was copied incorrectly. I have made 3 poster. Noting one variance in the lower
instruments with the photo copied plan bout of 1mm. and the C bout corners
and had to modify dimensions a were 1mm. to close together. The corner
considerable amount. They turned out shapes were re-sanded to match the
very good as a 7/8 instrument. All 3 have poster. Then the lower bout variance was
sold for not less than 1200 dollars. corrected with a 1mm strip of material
For this instrument I returned to glued to that section of the pattern. Upon
tracing the plans by hand. Short cuts re-checking against the poster a match to
have a habit of not working as planned. the outline was achieved.
Checking drawings with the dimensions Separating the plate pattern from
on the plan poster, I know that it isn’t the bottom of the stack (use sanding dust
exact but will be close to the poster. One particles to remove the adhesives
observation is that the dimensions are stickiness) allowed cutting to the inside
not consistent, but vary with minor shape of the sides based on the average
things like edge overhang. Calculate the overhang of 3.5mm, plus the stated side
average overhang to the side in order to thickness of 1.1 – 1.3 mm, giving a
fabricate the mold fixture. Using Violin measurement of 202.5mm (equaling
and Fiddle Tech manual Builder and 207.5mm the poster calling for 207.8mm
Apprentice as a reference, start with the {varnish thickness not calculated in this
2 part mold construction. Creating the measurement}) at the widest point of the
drawings required 18 hours, fabricating fixture pattern with corner blocks.
the mold was 3 hours. Repeating the sanding and separation
Photo 01 process the corner block pattern was
completed (photo 01center). By leaving
the corner block shapes in the location it
will be easy to layout the corner block
shapes during mold preparation for rib
The last layer with the plan still
attached, cut the corner and end blocks
out with a band saw. The neck and end
block width was based on a 1720

Stradivarius plan, due to no dimensions After removing the pattern locate
specified on the Del Gesù poster (photo one 3/16 inch hole below the neck block
01 left). ½ inch lower than the alignment hole.
Selecting a piece of ¾ inch Next clamp the ½ inch plywood to the ¾
plywood for the mold lower half and inch lower section. Using the dowel pin
clamping the pattern to it, drill two 1/8 holes as a guide, the 1/8 inch holes were
inch holes into the plywood using the drilled through the ½ inch top section
pattern holes as a guide (photo 02). and the dowels inserted to maintain
Photo 02 alignment. The 3/16 inch hole is drilled
through top and bottom sections with a
drill press. The dowels are removed to
separate the sections. With the sections
separated the ¾ inch plate is tapped to
¼-20tpi (threads per inch). The ½ inch
section is drilled to17/64 diameter to
allow screw clearance. The two sections
are put together with a flat head ¼-20tpi
brass machine screw. The edges were
The pattern shape was transferred aligned before the screw was tightened
to the plywood with a pencil. Flip the (the taper of the head of the screw served
pattern over and insert the dowels for as a centering device to align the screw
alignment and the pattern shape is traced hole as it was tightened). This same
to the mold. process was repeated for the mounting
Photo 03 hole located at the end block (photo 05).

Photo 05

Photo 04

The two sections were

reassembled and 6 additional 3/16 inch
mounting holes were drilled ½ inch in
from the widest point of the upper and
lower bouts and the narrowest point of
the C bouts toward the centerline
through both sections. Separating the
two sections and tapping the ¾ inch
lower section to ¼-20tpi and the top

section to 17/64. The sections are Photo 08
reassembled with the neck and end block
mounting holes. The remaining six holes
are counter sunk from the top section
allowing the screw head to be at least
1/16 inch below the surface when
tightened. The mounting screws were
inserted and tightened with minimal
torque. Then remove and countersink the
remaining holes (photo 06).

Photo 6 The pattern was reinstalled on the

mold and the shape transferred to the top
as on the ¾ inch section (photo 8).

Photo 09

Photo 7

After marking the mold with the

block locations the blocks are cut out
using a band saw cut into the relief holes
previously drilled (photo 09). The rest of
the shape is rough cut leaving 1mm
outside the line (photo 10).

Photo 10
The mounting screws are
reinstalled (photo 07) completing
mounting screw installation. Drill 3/16
inch diameter holes at each corner of the
block locations too provide a relief in the
corner when the blocks are installed at a
later time. The sections are separated and
the jacking hole positions at each block
plotted (photo 7). The shape is sanded with an
oscillating vertical fence and drum
sander (photo 11), sanding the marked
line off of the mold.

Photo 11 Photo 13

Next flat sand the top and back

sections. The final height of the mold is
30mm uniformly. The dimensions
specified on the poster require a tapered
The sections are disassembled reduction from the center bout block
and the jacking holes are tapped to ¼- location to the neck block location.
20tpi in the top plate only (photo 12) Being reduced to 29mm creating a taper
after the clamp cutouts were removed on the mold and adjusting the air
from the mold with a scroll saw. resonance at the same time
compensating for the lower bout size,
Photo 12 this will occur naturally when sanding
the rib height and linings flat.

Photo 13 the sections are

reassembled and the block locations are
squared with a file and small square. The
inside edge of the block locations are
parallel to the centerline and at right
angles to the centerline at the corner and
end block locations. Scribe the centerline
on the top section and use the band saw
to cut 1/16 inch deep slot on the
centerline of the end and neck block

Chapter 2 Photo 15 shows the corner block
with the news paper attached to the
Ribs block. Adding glue to the paper
coinciding with the ½ and ¾ sections of
Preparing the mold took 8 hours the mold, Insuring that no glue is in the
of work. In photo 14, start installing the area if the separation line. Position the
blocks. The end blocks are installed first, block to the mold and allow the block to
then the corner blocks. To install them extend beyond the top and back slightly.
glue (with Elmer’s wood glue) a strip of
newspaper to the block with glue on the The block installation is
top and bottom of the side. Do not put completed (photo 16).
glue where the mold will separate. The
grain orientation is side to side neck and Photo 16
end blocks, with the end grain on the top
and bottom of the mold. Corner block
grain orientation for this instrument
curves from upper bout to corner point.
This was done using black willow. The
annual rings point to the corner miter
joint position.

Photo 14

Photo 17

Photo 15

Turning the mold over, check the

block height above the top, enough
material must be present to flat sand the
blocks flush to the surface of the mold
top and bottom. While the glue is drying,
start preparing the side ribs for
installation. Use a scraper to reduce rib
material to 1.2mm thickness. The side
material is well flamed and required
holding the scraper at an angle to reduce
the high spots of the curls evenly (photo
18 and 19).

Photo 18 Photo 21

Ribs prepared for scraping

The glue has dried enough to
Photo 19 continue with the mold side block
installation (photo 21). The micro bar
clamps have been positioned to allow
flat sanding. Preventing the blocks from
being knocked out during this process
(photo 21).

Photo 22

Scraper held at an angle to

reduce the material evenly across the
curls (flaming pattern).
Photo 20
Side view of sanding plate (photo
22); note the gap under the mold. This is
caused by the blocks extending beyond
the top and bottom surface of the mold.
The mold is then moved in a circular
motion removing material from the
blocks. This reduction of the block
material is depicted in photo 23 by the
Photo 21 is the sides scraped and ready lighter shaded circular patterns.
for book matching to determine location
on the instrument for the best aesthetic

Photo 23
Photo 26

Unfortunately the sand paper was The sanding process is continued.

caught and torn by a block requiring The new sanding cloth required more
replacement (photo 23). force to move the mold. This removed
material faster from the blocks (photo
Photo 24 26).
In photo 27 the pattern is lighter
due to the color of the sanding cloth. The
circular pattern on the left is more
pronounced due to more pressure applied
during sanding.

Photo 27

Photo 24 shows where the

material was removed from the blocks.

Photo 25

I solved this problem by adding a

clamp to each end of the mold after
removing the micro bar clamp from each
end block (photo 28). Than placed a
steel drop (waste end of steel bar stock
that drops on the floor when cut to
length) directly over the center bout
Removing damaged paper from location. Grasping the clamps and
the glass plate. Old spray adhesive was moving the mold in a circular pattern
removed with denatured alcohol (photo was easier and the added weight insured
25). The glass is sprayed with 3M-77 even pressure o the mold.
spray adhesive and new cloth backed
paper is pressed into position (photo 26).
Insuring no pucker or loose ends of the
sanding cloth is present to catch on the

Photo 28

Photo 30 shows the drop position

changed to the neck block and the back
of the mold is in the sanding leveling
During the sanding process
process. I started with the drop at the
repositioning the drop to the neck block
neck end due to the harder wood.
area was required. The harder neck block
was higher then the end block causing
Photo 31
uneven removal of the block material. As
the material was removed the dust
pattern on the sanding board changed to
the outline of the mold. The blocks are
now flush with the surface of the mold.
Remove the drop and tap the mold on
the sanding board. Leaving an outline of
the mold in the sanding dust (photo 20),
examination showed that the blocks were
flush with the surface of the mold.
Recheck the blocks with a straight edge. In photo 31 the lower left of the
dust pattern appears to be partly missing,
Photo 29 indicating a high spot. I re-sanded lightly
with hand pressure in this area and re-
checked the dust pattern (photo 32 and

Photo 32

Photo 33
Photo 30

Photo 34

Next cut the corner and end block shapes

with a small band saw and a 1/8 inch
scroll blade (photo 36 and 37).

Photo 37
Using the corner block pattern
pined to the mold with the 1/8 inch
dowels; transfer the corner block
patterns to the corner blocks (photo 34).

Photo 35

In photo 35 extend the side

curves of the upper and lower bouts
across the blocks, then mark and number
the blocks for location.

Photo 36 Photo 38

Photo 41

In photo 38 the cut off sections are

matched with the location marked before

Photo 39

In photo 41 and 42 the corners

are shaped with the drum sanding
Photo 42

Using an osculating fence sander

the neck and end blocks are sanded to
shape (photo 39 and 40).

Photo 43
Photo 40

I accidentally broke the end and
neck blocks loose and had to re-glue
them in place (photo 43). While this
repair was drying, I started inspecting
the wedges for the top and back. I found
flaws in the grain pattern of the top plate
(circled photos 44, 45, 46, and 47), one
Chipped corner in waste wood
corner chipped out, a resin pocket, and a
area will not cause a problem.
check (split in the end grain of the
Photo 47
Photo 44

The grain appears to be offset.

Photo 45
Resin pocket and check directly
above it, this is in a waste area so will
not cause a problem during carving.

Photo 48
Off set of grain pattern may show
on carved plate.

Photo 46

Photo 48 is the back wedge with state. I desired to install it flame leaning
slight warp on inner surface area due to to the neck. Cutting the rib marked for
cutting angle. This will be corrected the left side in half, I marked the top of
during carving of the plate. I lightly the inside of the left center bout.
sanded the plate to show the grain and Wetting the material with water I
flaming pattern better. I was then able to bent and installed the left center bout (no
book match the rib wood to the location glue). Test fitting as the bends are made,
they needed to be for aesthetic value due to the length of the wood increasing
(photo 49). as the bend is completed. I clamped it
into position with the waste blocks from
Photo 49 cutting of the corner blocks. These
blocks were not sufficient to clamp the
rib wood correctly. I then made new
blocks and clamped the left c bout in
position (photo 50).

Photo 50

Rib material book matched to back plate

(photo 49).

Bending the ribs

Now that the end blocks have

dried, start the process of bending the
ribs. I turned the bending iron on after
mounting it to the work bench. I then set The mold was clamped in a
up the glue pot and prepared the hide swivel vice attached to the work bench.
glue. I want to use a medium thin This allowed me to position the mold in
mixture for gluing the ribs to the blocks. any position required. I repeated the
Testing the iron I found it was to hot. process for the right c bout. After
Dropping a small amount of water on top checking the fit, I used medium thin hide
of the iron it evaporated instantly. After glue to attach the right c bout in position
turning the iron down one notch, I allowing ¼ inch extension on top and
cleaned the iron with a wet rag. bottom of the mold. Repeating the same
Removing dirt and dust from the iron procedure for the left side I finished the
that may cause problems with bending installation of the center bouts. Now the
the side wood. drying time has to pass and the shop
I re-checked the marking that I needs to be cleaned and equipment
had put on the side wood for the position turned off.
that I wanted that piece in. Compared it
to the mold and back, determining the
angle of the rib flaming in a finished

Photo 51 shows the center bout Photo 54
ribs in place and the clamps removed.
Photo 51

Photo 55

Photo 52

In photo 55, I have cut the first

half of the miter joint at the corner points
of the center bouts using the drum
The rib height is then reduced to sander. Mount the mold in the swivel
1/16 inch above the surface top and back vice and prepare the glue.
with a low angle block plane (photo 52).
Turn on the bending iron to allow
Photo 53 it to heat up. Select the rib material for
the location you are bending next. Check
the flaming orientation for correct
pattern and wet the wood. Bend to shape
starting at the corner block, test fitting as
you bend the wood. When the fit is
correct glue in place add the clamps and
check that the joints are tight. Clean
Next the sanding board is used to excess glue from the joints. Pull the rib
reduce the rib height flush to the mold tight adding clamps as necessary to hold
surface top and back (photo 53 and 54). the side to the mold. Add glue to the end
block and clamp the rib to it. The rib
overlaps the centerline to allow cutting
both lower rib butt joints at the same
time (photo 56).

Photo 56 Photo 58

The ribs are installed and glue allowed

drying time before completing the end
The upper bout is bent in the block butt joint (photo 58).
same manner and glued in place. A ¼
inch gap is left between the upper bout Photo 59
ribs at the neck location. This will be cut
out later during cutting oh the dovetail
joint for the neck.

Photo 57 is the completed and glued

right side of the instrument.

Photo 57

Four hours later, the butt joint

was ready to be finished. Mark the
center line on the rib projected from the
mold. Lift the lower bout rib high
enough for saw clearance with out
damaging the rib. Place a small square
on the rib (that is glued to the end block)
centerline for the butt joint and clamp in
place. This is used as a cutting guide, cut
the rib with a 64 tooth fine tooth saw.
Try not to cut into the end block, after
the cut is made remove the excess with a
small flat chisel (photo 59). Clean the
end block and lay the other rib over the
butt joint pulling as tight as needed to
have the rib lie flat against the mold.
Add clamps to hold rib in position.

Clamp the small square in place lining final shaping done with a file. The sharp
up with the previously marked edges were removed with sandpaper. I
centerline. Make sure to allow for saw checked them against the poster and had
cutting width. Then test fit the joint. to adjust two of the patterns. I then
Adjust as required to have a flush butt drilled a ¼ inch hole in the end of the
joint. Then glue in place and clamp, pattern for hanging on the peg board
allow 4 hours drying time (photo 60). (photo 61).
Photo 60
Photo 62

The glue on the butt joint has

finally dried and I can continue with the
ribs. Using the same process I flattened
Photo 61 the ribs to the top and back of the mold
(photo 62).

Photo 63

While waiting for the glue to dry

I made the arching templates for the top
and back plates. The vertical centerline
was made from a ¼ inch piece of oak Next I finished cutting the miter
board wide enough to layout the top and joints. Using the drum sander the joints
back arch on the board. I used 3M-77 were dressed and rough areas removed
spray adhesive to glue the templates to photo 63 and 64 is a completed joint.
the board. For the remaining arching
guides I used 1/8 inch lexan and attached
using the same adhesive. Then using a
band saw the patterns were cut out and

Photo 64 Photo 66

Photo 65

Photo 67

Next I laid out the center line on

the top and back plates matching the
flame pattern of the ribs to the bottom
plate (book matching). I placed the mold
on the marked centerline of the top plate.
This is a one piece top that I had in the
closet for about ten years. I was able to
adjust the position to avoid the flaws in
the top plate, tracing the outline of the
mold sides onto the top plate using a Photo 67 is the back plate laid
washer with a side width of 4mm (photo out using the same method. The back
65) as a guide. Giving me a 5mm plate is a one piece back. The flaming on
distance from the mold to the outside the side was matched to the back by
edge of the marked line. The line will be moving the mold slightly up or down
removed later during the final shaping of until the pattern looked the same.
the top plate (photo 66).

In photo 68, I have removed the Photo 70
holding screws and inserting them into
the jacking holes. Slowly turning the
screws in ½ turn at a time in cross
pattern sequence, the news paper holding
the blocks on the mold parted, allowing
the top ½ inch section to rise out of the
ribs partly. There was insufficient
clearance to total remove the ½ inch
mold section.
Photo 68 The lining installation is next.
Photo 70 is the ¾ inch mold section with
the ribs attached and clamps added to
prevent knocking the blocks loose during
the lining installation. The clamps serve
as a stand during this process. Prepare
willow strips 6mm high x 2mm wide x
300mm long. Sand the side and edge of
each strip smooth (photo 71).

Photo 71
Photo 69

I removed the four center jacking

screws and installed longer ones. As I
turned these in the screw in the lower
right of photo 69 started drawing the ½
inch section back into the mold. After
removing that screw the remaining
screws lifted the ½ inch section from the
sides. I found that the jacking hole in the
lower right had penetrated into the ¾
inch section void that was not noticed
during the fabricating the mold. I will
have to repair the ¾ inch section if I
wish to use this mold.

Use a chisel to notch a bevel into Photo 74
the corner blocks of the center bout
(photo 72).
Photo 72

Photo 75

Photo 73

Photo 76

Completed linings

Cut a bevel on one end of the

lining. Then position it into the bevel of
the lower corner block. Bend the lining
and clamp in place with a clothes pin.
Holding the lining to the couture of the
rib mark the other end at the corner Wet the lining and install it with
block, remove the lining and cut a bevel the bevels into the corner blocks. Add
at the marked location (photo 74 and the cloths pins and allow to dry
75). overnight (photo 75 and 76).
The lining will retain the shape
long enough to glue in place the next
day. This same process is used on the

rest of the linings. The other method is Photo 80
to bend the linings on the bending iron
and glue them in place. When glued in
place the linings need to be 3mm higher
in the upper bouts and 1mm higher than
the lower bouts. This will compensate
for the air volume difference in the upper
and lower bouts (photo 77-80).
Photo 77

After drying, flat sand the linings flush

to the top of the ribs.

Photo 81

Photo 78

Lining material extends 2-3mm above

the sides (photo 81).

Photo 82

Photo 79 The lining material sanded flat to the

sides. The measurement at the neck
block is 29.5mm height. The linings for
the back are installed in the same
sequence after the top plate is attached to
the sides.

Chapter 3
Photo 84 is the back plate rough cut to
Plate carving shape the material at the top of the
picture is re-sawn into side material.
Refer to the plate carving chapter of Make sure that you leave a button on the
Violin and Fiddle Tech manual Builder back plate.
and apprentice.
Photo 85
The center lines have been
marked previously. The mold shape with
the sides has been transferred to the top
and back plates. Using the plate pattern
(photo 01), check the outline on the
plates, line up the centerline and trace
the pattern onto the plate’s flat surface.
Remove the pattern and check the
outline note variances in the pattern. The
outside of the marked line will be the Back plate shape sanded to the marked
overhang of the final plate shape (photo line on the plate (photo 85). The button
65-67). will be finished after neck installation.
Use a small band saw and cut The drum sander was used to shape the
outside the line marked on the plates center bouts and corner wings. The fence
(photo 83). Save as much of the cut off attachment was used to shape the upper
material as possible, for use later making and lower bouts of top and bottom plate.
blocks and repair patch material.
Photo 86
Photo 83

Top plate rough cut to shape (photo 83).

Photo 84

In photo 86 the edge thickness is scribed,

then darkened with a pencil point.

Photo 87 Photo 90

After marking the edge height, the arch

height is marked adding 2mm to the
measurement. This will allow sanding
the plate flat prior to gluing to the ribs
(photo 87).
Photo 88 Photo 91 and 92, the plate’s bottom
mounting area is sanded flat. This
operation was previously done on a
sanding board and block plane.

Photo 91

Scrap top plate material saved for

patching and corner blocks. Photo 89,
the plates are sized quickly with the
thickness sander.
Photo 89
Photo 92

Photo 92 and 93 are the sized

plates ready to mount to the carving

Photo 93 The spindle block is added (photo 96).

Photo 97

Photo 94

The carving board mounted in the vice

(photo 97).

The top plate is being attached to the Photo 98

carving board with two screws (photo
Photo 95

Material is reduced to the edge thickness

in photo 98. As the material is removed
the grain will change direction. To avoid
tear out of the wood change the carving
board position. Turn by loosening the
Top view of the carving board (photo 95) vice repositioning the carving board and
Photo 96 retighten the vice.
Photo 99

In photo 99 the top centerline arch is

Photo 100 Photo 104

The arch for the back is shaped (photo

The remaining arches are shaped (photo Photo 105

Photo 101

The remaining arches are shaped on the

back (photo 105).
In photo 101 the top plate arching is
blended together. Photo 106

Photo 102

The back plate arches are blended

together forming a smooth contour.
In photo 102 and 103the shaping and
Looking at the plate with deflected light
blending is completed. Photo 103 is the
shadows will appear next to high spots.
side view of the top plate showing the
These were smoothed with sandpaper
and scrapers (photo 106).
Photo 103

Chapter 4

Installing the Purfling

Checking the outline of the plates

to the pattern, the top plate was good, the
back plate needed to be reshaped in the
lower bout to match the pattern. The
plate edges are now at their final shape
(with the exception of the back plate
neck tab).

Photo 107 In photo 108 the second cut is


Stop the cut close to the corner

and finish the cut with a knife and chisel
(photo 109 and 110).

Photo 109

Starting with the back plate (photo 107),

make the setup on the rotary tool, router
guide (photo 108) with the
measurements from the plan. This may
not be the easiest way to install the
purfling but I find it the fastest. I use the
back plate as a guide. Rout a test piece
of scrap the same thickness. Check the
depth and distance of the cut from the
edge. Use a compass divider to mark the
position of the purfling on the back and
top plates. The area under the back plate
neck tab must be extended across to the
other side. Rout the purfling groove in Photo 110
two step cuts. First cut 1.5mm deep
second remaining measurement to final
depth of cut. Photo 107 first cut made
following the guide line.

Photo 108

Photo 111 The upper bout and lower bout
are done in one piece. The purfling is
trimmed to match the corner joint where
it meets the center bout purfling to a
miter joint. 2-3mm length is left on the
end for the bee sting. Temporally install
the purfling strip and cut the opposite
end. Shape the bee sting and glue in
Photo 113

Photo 112

Purfling installed back plate. The top

plate is done using the same method
(photo 113).

Photo 114

The back plate purfling groove is

extended below the tab. This area is cut
with a knife and purfling clean out chisel

Install the purfling in the center

bouts first, cut a 45 degree angle on one
end. Fit the cut end into the groove at the
corner. Bend to shape and press lightly
in place. Cut the other end to a 45 degree In photo 114, the first half of the cove is
angle at the point of the corner. Remove cut with a gouge chisel reground to a
the purfling and inject thin hide glue into low angle. The cove extends from the
the groove, install the purfling strip. purfling to 1mm from the edge of the
Lightly tap in the purfling with a dowel plate. Photo 115, the cove is cut in the
and tack hammer. Insure the purfling is top plate.
seated in the groove and clean off the
excess glue (photo 112).
Photo 115

Photo 116

Use a scraper to blend the inside of the

purfling to the arching (photo 116 and
Photo 117

Photo 118 is the completed cove.

The areas at the corners require special
care, they can be damaged easily. The
top and back plate took about 8 hours to

Photo 118

Chapter 5

Plate Tuning and Installation

Decide what tuning method you

wish to use. I will start with the
Vigdorchik method. Then adjust with tap
tone method. Referring to the poster
determine the thickest measurement for
the top and back, layout these
measurements on the inside of the top
and back plates. Use a compass divider Use a drill press drill the back plate to a
to layout the inside edge plus 3mm of uniform thickness of 4.5mm depending
the lining position (edge overhang + side on the tone of the plate. Decrease the
thickness + lining thickness = drilling depth 1mm to a thickness of
measurement to be marked). Leave 5.5mm. On the top plate, drill to a
enough material for the end and neck uniform thickness of 4.5mm.
blocks gluing surface. Photo 119 is the
back plate and photo 120 is the top plate, Photo 121
both plates have the layout and
calibration marked. While doing the
calibration marking I realized that the
marks were laid out in reverse of the
theory. This means the measurements
were taken from the outside of the
instrument. In order to have then in the
right location they had to be reversed on
the inside of the plate.
Back plate depth holes used as a
Photo 119 guide to remove material (photo 121).

Photo 122

Photo 120
Top plate guide holes drilled.

Photo 123 Clamp the top plate to the mold
in the proper position, double check the
edge overhang. Drill 2 1/16 inch holes
located at the neck block and end block
on the outside of the purfling (photo 126
end block)( photo 127 neck block). Drill
into the blocks and insert 1/16 inch
diameter pins. The pins are used for
alignment only and will be removed
after gluing the plate in position. The
area where the alignment holes are will
be removed during neck attachment and
saddle nut installation.

Use a gouge to remove the Photo 126

material on the inside of the marked line
(photo 123). Finish removing the
material with the finger planes photo
Photo 124

Alignment pin installed end block

Photo 127

Material removed and finger

plane removal is next (photo 124).

Photo 125

Alignment pin installed neck block

Prepare the glue, and seize the

blocks with thin glue. This seals the end
grain preventing absorption of the
moisture in the glue when the top is
glued into position (photo 128).
The plate support made from
liquid silicone rubber (photo 125).

Photo 128 Photo 130 the back plate is
roughed out using the gouges and finger
planes. The thickness at this time is 5mm
and will be finished tuning after the top
plate is removed. This is not the normal
way I have done this before. I want to
find out how much the ribs affect the
tuning of the back plate.

Photo 131
Blocks seized

Photo 129

Removing the ¾ inch section of the

mold is done by gently detaching the
corner and end blocks from the mold
with a small chisel or a knife. Lifting up
Clamping garland in place with your fingers under the mold and
pushing down with the thumb on the
In photo 129 the top plate is block will slightly lift the section out of
glued into position and the alignment the ribs (photo 131).
pins are removed. Thin hide glue is used
too make it easer to remove in a later Photo 132
step. The top is glued to the ribs as an
experiment to see how much the ribs
affect the tuning process. The ¾ inch
section of the mold will be removed and
linings installed before finish tuning of
the top plate.
Photo 130

In photo 132 the mold has been

removed from the ribs. The inside of the
ribs are inspected for damage. The
corner block shaping must be done after
the linings have been installed. Tap test
of the plate without the ribs resulted with

the pitch “F”. With the ribs attached The top plate has been trimmed inside to
without the back linings in place is “F#”. carry the shape of the inside of the plate
to the ribs, linings and blocks. The top
Photo 133 plate with the sides and linings in place,
tap tone is “E”+30 cents toward sharp.
The sound holes and base bar must be
installed before final tuning.

Photo 136

Photo 133 is the linings for the

back plate installed. During trimming of
the linings the side joint separated from
the top plate and had to be re-glued
before proceeding.

Photo134 In photo 136, I have glued the

back onto the ribs to allow me to remove
the top plate for base bar installation and
sound hole cutting.

The next chapter will be the

carving of the neck and preparation to
install it onto the body. This photo
(photo 137) shows a carved neck with
the string nut and fingerboard attached.
In photo 134 the linings have been Using the dimintions from the poster I
installed and flat sanded. The blocks thinned the heel to 1mm larger then the
have been trimmed to shape in photo measurements given on the poster. I then
135. The corner blocks are trimmed to calculated the neck angle for a standard
continue the shape of the lower bout into size violin. Based on the poster the neck
the center bout. The neck block corners angle needs to be 79.2 degrees to match
have a ½ inch radius and the end block is the poster.
trimmed to a half circle.
Photo 137
Photo 135

Photo 138 deflection angle representing the center
of the base bar. The base bar is then
glued in position in photo 140 with
medium thin hide glue. The clamps are
installed in the center bout first, then the
ends. A fourth clamp was added due to a
slight gap in between the center and
lower bout clamps.

Photo 140
The calculations for the base bar
have been completed and laid out on the
inside of the top plate. The carbon paper
is taped in position and the base bar is
shaped to the contour of the inside of the
top plate by rubbing the bar on the
carbon paper and scraping the high
spots. The base bar material was cut
from the scrap of the top plate (photo
Photo 140 base bar clamps are in
Photo 139
Photo 141

Photo 141, the base bar has been

shaped and tuned. The plate tone is “G#”
In photo 139 the center of the in mode 2 position. In mode 1 position
plate is laid out and the bridge line the upper bout treble side responds at
plotted. This position is transferred to the “F” + 20 cents. The lower bout treble
base bar to aid gluing in position. The side responds at “G”+ 10 cents. The
top of the bar is 45mm from the neck lower bout base side responds at “F” +
end of the plate edge. The other end is 30 cents with an overall tone of “G”.
43mm from the edge of the plate at the
end block location. The base bare is set
at an angle, to obtain these
measurements the widest point of the
upper and lower bout measurements are
divided by 7 equaling 12.5 for the upper
and 15 for the lower. These are laid out
on the plate at the widest point. Then the
measurement is laid out for the

Photo 142

Photo 142 shows the sound holes

in position. Sound hole shape will be
adjusted after set up in the white.

Bevel the finished edges of the

plates with a file and knife, scrape
smooth, and then lightly sand with 600
grit finishing paper too remove sharp
edges. The bevel or chamfer angle
should be 45 degrees.

Chapter 6 Lay out the height of the neck on the
centerline (photo 150) of the heel.
Fitting the Neck Photo 150

The neck is carved using tracings

from the poster. This procedure is
described in the Violin and Fiddle
Technical Manual Builder and
Photo 143

Photo 143 is the neck with the

fingerboard and string nut attached
temporarily. The neck length on this
instrument will be 130mm rather then
the 124mm of the reconstructed version
The side of the neck shows the
of the original neck.
cut line for excess material to be
removed to allow the heel to sit flat on
Photo 144
the neck button of the back plate. When
fitted to the instrument the bottom of the
string nut should be inline with the glue
joint of the top plate and the ribs. Leave
extra material, for adjusting the height of
the neck, as the angle is changed during
the fitting procedure.
Photo 151

Photo 144 shows the neck heel

with the centerline. The neck heel will
be trimmed with a disc sander to obtain
an angle from the edge of the
fingerboard to the bottom of the heel.

The excess material is trimmed
leaving 1/32 extra material, for Photo 154
adjustment of the neck angle (photo
151). In photo 152, the neck is fitted to
the body using the neck angle gauge.
The dove tail is cut to allow the neck
angle gauge pin to rest on the top plate at
the bridge line.

Photo 152

In photo 154, the top plate is

removed and the neck is glued in
position with medium thick hide glue.
While overnight drying of the glue joint
will be sufficient to finish the assembly
of the instrument, you should allow 24
hours of drying time before tension is
applied to the instrument.

Photo 155

Photo 153

Photo 155, the sides have been

prepared for installation of the top plate.

Photo 156

Photo 153 shows the completed

dove tail joint. The top plate has been Photo 156 the top plate glued to
trimmed to allow the neck to sit at the sides using thin hide glue. Clamping
correct angle. The top plate is first garland installed.
pinned in place with the locater pins, and
then spool clamps are added to the center
bout to hold it in place during the fitting

Chapter 7 Photo 159

Set Up in the White

In photo 157, the clamps have

been removed from the instrument and
the glue joints have been cleaned and

Photo 157

With the peg reamer, set the peg

shaper to the angle of the reamer. Use a
knife to score around the peg shoulder
before sizing the peg. Size the peg to the
smaller opening of the shaper. Insure the
peg is shaped evenly for each revolution.
Stop the turning just before the shoulder
of the peg (photo 160).

Photo 160
In photo 158, the peg holes are sized and
the pegs fitted. Insure that the peg
reamer is held straight while turning.
View the end of the neck with the reamer
in place to check for correct angle (photo

Photo 158

Fit the saddle nut, to the instrument

(photo 161).

Photo 161 Photo 163

Photo 162

In photo 162 the fingerboard has been

tack glued in place. The stop length of
the strings is checked with a blank
bridge in place and the belly of the
instrument is marked at this location.
The bridge line should be at this

In photo 163, the bridge tailpiece end pin

and chin rest have been added. Bow the
instrument and check the tonal
difference’s and adjust the bridge and
string nut for playability. The instrument
was brought to tone and allowed to rest
for 2 days. Once the strings have been
stretched the tone of the instrument can
be adjusted.
For fitting if the bridge, follow the set up
procedures in the chapter of “Violin and
Fiddle Tech Manual Builder and

Photo 164

Photo 164 is the back of the unvarnished



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