Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Today I resumed my apprenticeship in the violin shop. There's a very long way to go on this instrument, which I started before the break; but that's good, as it gives me the opportunity to begin documenting fairly early in the process. This particular violin-to-be is unique in that it is a) for me (for to have!), and b) the first one I'll be doing every step of the work on myself--and as such, progress will be painfully slow for those readers not measuring in geological epochs.

Here's where things stood when I started this morning. Most of what you're seeing here--though it is deceptively violin-shaped--is a form; its only function is to shape and support the ribs through the next several steps.

[Flashback: I made said form by clamping together two pieces of plywood, tracing the shape of the violin from a Guarneri blueprint onto them, and cutting the shape out on the band saw. I bolted the plywood layers together, then cut corner blocks (which you can see supporting the corners, the top, and the bottom). Those spruce blocks, unlike the plywood, will be part of the finished instrument.]

Peter gave me some strips of very fine, wildly-flamed old European maple to make the ribs out of, and I sanded them to the appropriate thickness, then shaped them around a hot iron (manipulating them with a thick strip of lead, which supported it and conducted heat from the back). We then glued the ribs into place around the outside of the form--being very careful to only glue the maple to the corner blocks, NOT to the form itself (which we'd rubbed paraffin into, as a precautionary buffer). [Aside to the interested reader: hide glue has many distinctive properties that make it desirable for these applications...but its aromatic aura is not chief among them.]

That brings us to today. From a massive block of willow, we cut a thin panel; I sanded it even thinner, then cut the panel into several 7 mm strips. Once glued in, these will serve as liners, adding further structural support to the ribs. I also unbolted and removed the top half of the form, in preparation for that process.

A note: I'm very grateful to Peter for his generosity with time, tools, and materials (and equally grateful to his students, for sharing his divided attention). Every step of the work that I do "all by myself" represents a through and detailed demonstration (sometimes repeated several times) on his part beforehand.

No comments:

Post a Comment