Home Stretch for the 14-inch Viola

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On the Home Stretch Now!

The 14-inch Viola is getting closer to completion!

When I last posted, the viola was still in the spool clamps. The back plate was installed, but that was as far as I got that night.

Viola in spool clamps

Lots of promise, but not much “grace” in this picture.

 

Spool Clamps Off: Lots of Work to Do, Preparing for Purfling

So…the next step was to remove those clamps, adjust the overhangs as needed, and get on with the purfling. That sounds pretty straightforward, but there is always more to anything than meets the eye.

front view, back plate installed, button needing shaping.

Looks nice, at first glance, but take a look at the neck button (where the back plate overlaps the heel of the neck.)

 

side view viola with unfinished back plate.

Side view of the same state of the viola.

 

Back view viola with unfinished back plate.

Back view: button hidden by my hand. No purfling, and no shaping done.

 

Purfling Groove

I marked the purfling groove, using what is frequently called a “Purfling cutter“, but which is actually a marker. It has two blades that simply lay out the sides of the groove, by scribing them a set distance in from the outer edge…which is why I want the outer edge perfect, before beginning purfling. I have modified my¬†cutter a bit, to make it work more reliably, but the link above shows the type of tool I use. I don’t think I have that brand. I can only use the marker to get within an inch or so of the corners. I lay out the corners by hand, sometimes using a frnch curve to achieve some repeatability.

Afterlaying out the groove in pencil and scribe marks, I incise the lines with a small sharp knife, then pick the waste wood from between the cuts.

Here is the completed groove:

Purfling groove and button complete

Purfling groove complete. Notice that the button is taking shape as well. The neck, too is getting slimmer, and smoother. Lotsa work…

Here is a detail shot of the groove:

Detail of purfling groove.

Detail of the purfling groove.

 

The Purfling, the Channel, and the Finish Work.

Finally I can start cutting and installing the purfling itself. I use a wood purfling, which is very brittle when dry, but bends nicely with a little moisture and a lot of heat. Once the purfling fits correctly, I lift each stip out partway, and insert hot hide glue under it, then force the strip back into the groove. Afterward, I mark the crest of the channel, and cut the channel using a sharp gouge. Finally, I use a tiny plane as well as gouges and scrapers to bring the convex curve of the plate into a fair, smooth agreement with the concave curve of the channel.

The purfling is complete, the channel is cut, and the back curve faired into the channel.

The purfling is complete, the channel is cut, and the back curve faired into the channel.

 

Purfling detail

Purfling detail: look closely, and you can see the edge-crest line in pencil.

 

side vies of viola.

It is a fairly high-ribbed viola: 35mm. I think it will sound good.

And, it is looking more and more like a viola!

Viola nearly complete

On the Home Stretch!

 

What is next? Edgework, and final scraping; coffee stain, mineral ground, sealer, and varnish…and then fittings and set-up. (The outer edgework is not even begun on the back plate.)

This is definitely as far as I am going tonight, though…. Getting too tired.

 

Thanks for looking

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